The history of Daytona International Speedway began in 1953 when Bill France Sr. realized the days of racing on the beach were numbered due to spreading land usage of a rapidly growing population and huge race crowds. France put his plans for the future of racing in Daytona Beach, Florida in motion on April 4, 1953 with a proposal to construct a permanent speedway facility. On August 16, 1954, France signed a contract with City of Daytona Beach and Volusia County officials to build what would become Daytona International Speedway, the “World Center of Racing.” In 1957, land clearing began for the Speedway. The famous 31-degree highbanks were included in the design of the track so higher speeds could be achieved and to make it easier for fans to see the cars race around the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The dirt for the banking was taken from the infield and resulted in a 29-acre space that is known as Lake Lloyd.
Racing moved from the beach-road course to Daytona International Speedway in 1959 and the first DAYTONA 500 took place on February 22 in front of a crowd of over 41,000. Car entries included both hard tops and convertibles (it was the only DAYTONA 500 that included convertibles). The finish of the inaugural DAYTONA 500 was too close to call. Johnny Beauchamp went to Victory Lane, but 61 hours later Lee Petty was declared the official winner after a clip of newsreel footage showed that Petty nipped Beauchamp at the line by approximately two feet.