Without a doubt, DAYTONA Rising is the most ambitious project ever set about in the motorsports industry. The $400 reimagining has transformed the World Center of Racing into the World’s First Motorsports Stadium. After two years of steel, bolts, and concrete the project is near completion and will be unveiled with the 2016 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA.
The man that may have the most unique perspective on the new stadium is DAYTONA’s very own, John Majzun. In his time with DAYTONA, he has worked on the old facility, helped with designs on the DAYTONA Rising project, and now is set to manage the stadium operations for the new stadium.
Currently, Majzun serves as Daytona International Speedway’s Building Manager. In this role, he is responsible for operating, maintaining and overseeing the new facility. He supervises all of the contracts, cleaning, upkeep, maintenance, load-in & load-out for all of the races, and much more.
While the role is certainly quite exciting, especially considering the momentous opening to ensue, John’s path to this point has been quite the winding road.
His introduction to Daytona International Speedway came in 2001.
“In 2001, my family came down here from Ohio to visit my in-laws. The first time I ever saw this track was on one of the tours in February, which happened to be during one of the practices for the DAYTONA 500,” Majzun recalled.
“They took us to Turn 4 and let us walk up to the wall and I watched Dale Earnhardt Sr. drive by. I turned to my wife and my mother-in-law and said, ‘I don’t care if it’s cleaning restrooms, I’m going to work here one of these days.’”
It didn’t take long for the Majzun family to end up back in Daytona Beach for good as they found themselves moving down in 2002. John was an HVAC Technician (heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers) by training and began working for a bunch of local contractors in the air conditioning field.
One day, however, fate intervened. A regular day of work brought Majzun into the home of Dick Hahne, the Vice President of Operations at the time, to fix the air conditioning. Impressed by his craftsmanship, Hahne asked him to join his team at DAYTONA.
“I thought it was a joke. I didn’t know who the man was,” said Majzun.
“He gave me his card and I never looked at it. It probably sat on my dresser for six weeks. One of the guys that worked for me kept telling me to take a look at the card. I ended up calling him one day and he told me to come on over. I’ve been here ever since.”
Majzun worked in the capacity of Air Conditioning Supervisor for Daytona International Speedway until March 2014, when he was transferred to ISC Design and Development, where he remained for two years as the MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) Project Manager for DAYTONA Rising.
In this role, he oversaw all of the mechanical, electrical and plumping installations and contractors for the entire complex. In terms of day-to-day responsibilities, he was working with the design builder, Barton Malow, making sure that everything was being followed to code, the specifications were installed correctly and that everything was up to standards.
“The obstacle was just the sheer size and magnitude of the stadium,” explained Majzun.
“It’s nine-tenths of a mile long and seven floors high, counting the tower.
Now, as of December 1st, he has transferred back to Daytona International Speedway as the Building Manager.
“The most challenging part of my job now is trying to bring together so many different people. Right now, I have to work with contractors to get things ready for the race while Barton Malow continues to finish its construction work and the Founding Partners each ready their respective injectors.”
His talent for coordinating logistics from a wide variety of different people with different objectives and schedules, while keeping everyone on the same page definitely stands out.
“There is one big freight elevator and everything that everyone needs to take up into the stadium is going onto this elevator,” he began. “All at once, you’re trying to coordinate everyone with deliveries, from signage to concession stands to cars. Everybody wants in somewhere at the same time. The old saying we used all the time at the old track was, ‘If you desire it, we’ll acquire it.’ That’s how we try to approach things every day now.”
As the official opening fast approaches, he spends his days making sure that everybody gets what they need, when they need it and where they need it.
It’s clear that he has really enjoyed seeing where the project is today from where it was when he began.
“When I started, it was dirt. The concourses were gone. It wasn’t long after I came over to Design and Development that they tore the old tower down,” he continued.
“I think I have a pretty unique perspective on this whole process because I worked on the old building, helped design the new stadium and now manage stadium operations for the new stadium. For me to be a part of all that is pretty special.”
With mere weeks until the debut, he encourages fans to make DAYTONA a destination.
“It’s going to blow your mind,” he said. “You can imagine it all you want to, but that just doesn’t do it justice. It’s an amazing structure.”
Daytona International Speedway is ready to take its place as the most fan-friendly facility in the sporting world, with more escalators, 40, than any outdoor stadium in the nation, double the number of restroom, triple the number of concessions, and 101,500 brand-new 20”-21” stadium seats with backs and armrests.
“The new stadium is so fan-immersive. As a matter of fact, from day 1, it was designed with the fan in mind,” he recalled. “From the vertical transportation to the injectors to the restrooms to the signage, the new stadium is all designed around what a fan wants and expects.”
After two years spent on the project, he definitely has some favorite features that he thinks fans will enjoy.
“Fans will love the vertical transportation with all of the escalators and elevators. There’s no more walking 17 stories to get to your seat. The most amount of steps any fan will have to go up 20 rows to find a seat.”
The vertical transportation will take fans right up into one of 11 neighborhoods, each a football field long.
“Each neighborhood has a restroom, multiple concessions, carts, Wi-Fi connectivity and a fan engagement area. You have all of the amenities you need in a neighborhood.”
Thus, unless you’d like to walk the stadium to check things out, you won’t need to leave the general vicinity of your seat to meet all of your needs, getting you back to the racing action in record time.
Fans will be able to easily traverse these neighborhoods thanks to an increase in the amount and quality of signage.
“Fans will be able to look halfway down a concourse and be able to see where they need to go,” he said. The sections and rows, the concessions, the restrooms and more will all be easy to find from a distance.”
When asked to find a contemporary to compare this facility with, he was quite sure that Daytona International Speedway is one-of-a-kind.
“It doesn’t compare to other race tracks. There’s no comparison. There’s nothing to compare it to. It’s a completely new concept. When you go to any motorsports facility, you don’t have 90-foot wide concourses where you no longer have to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with other fans. Now, it’s an actual stadium. It’s on par with any sports stadium that you can imagine.”
John and his team excitedly await the fan feedback following Speedweeks 2016.
“I’ve been very lucky to work with a lot of talented people. It should validate the hard work and effort we’ve put into it all. Everybody really has worked together as a group to make it all happen. At the end of the day, it will be rewarding to hear what people have to say.”
When asked how he’d feel on the day of the DAYTONA 500, watching the USAF Thunderbirds fly overhead as the crowd roars, he paused.
“I’ll feel a big sigh of relief and great sense of accomplishment because not only did I have a hand in building it originally, but also am part of stadium operations for such an important event. People are going to be sitting in their seats with stars in their eyes from the World’s First Motorsports Stadium,” he guaranteed.
The launch of the new Daytona International Speedway certainly marks a new era in motorsports, but also an unexpected development in John’s life.
“I would’ve never imagined this ten years ago. I would’ve never believed you,” he said shaking his head.
“I’d have guessed I’d still be here cleaning toilets. To go from the A/C guy to stadium manager took a lot of hard work and feels like quite an accomplishment.”
Be sure to come out to witness history and see all that John and thousands more have accomplished in making the World’s First Motorsports Stadium a reality.
For event information or tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com
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