A Tradition Begins
After the 2002 Daytona 500 was announced as the most watched motorsports event in the world, Daytona International Speedway decided to thank the fans by beginning the tradition of holding a concert leading up to the running of The Great American Race.
Five-time Grammy winner Mariah Carey was chosen as the very first in what would become a long line of iconic, award-winning from a who’s who of entertainers.
Appearing in a form-fitting race suit, Carey belted out her hit single, "Through The Rain", as a tribute to those lost in the space shuttle Columbia. Fireworks and cheers erupted around her.
DAYTONA 500 50th Anniversary
2008 played host to a heart-pumping, one-of-a-kind pre-race prelude to the most anticipated event in racing history - the historic 50th running of the DAYTONA 500.
Fans were treated to a tour through the history of music as Legendary rock and roll singer Chubby Checker kicked off festivities with his 1960 summer hit “The Twist”.
The 1970s were represented by none other than soul singer Michael McDonald, while Kool & the Gang smoothly transitioned the crowd to the 1980s. They sang “Takin' It To The Streets.” and “Celebration”, respectively.
The concert was capped off with a performance by the most awarded duo in country music – Brooks & Dunn, producers of 23 #1 hits and sellers of over 30 million records.
Florida Georgia Line rocks the new stadium
With the opening of a reimagined DAYTONA experience set to break records across the board in the world of entertainment, it only made sense to kick things off with another record-breaker.
The first-ever country song to achieve certified diamond status, Florida Georgia Line was no stranger to setting new standards. Their new country sound served as the perfect partner for the opening of the world’s first motorsports stadium as they played hits like “Cruise” and “This is How We Roll”.
By the Numbers
The awards and accolades for those who have performed these pre-race concerts is simply staggering. Altogether here’s how the 14 years of pre-race concerts measure up.
Grammy’s Won: 38
Grammy Nominations: 119
Platinum Albums: 86
Number One Singles: 31
Worldwide Sales: more than $975 million
Mariah Carey, 2003
Carey holds record for most consecutive years charting a number-one single, 11 years, from 1990 to 2000.
LeAnn Rimes, 2004
The Rimes recording “How Do I Live” holds the record for the most time in the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 at 32 consecutive weeks.
Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, 2005
The Beach Boys are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest amount of time, 22 years, between #1 songs – “Good Vibrations” (1966) and “Kokomo” (1988)
Bon Jovi, 2006
In 1986 "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Livin' On A Prayer" reached #1, making Bon Jovi the first hard rock band to ever have two consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 chart hits.
Kelly Clarkson, 2007
2009’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” gave Clarkson the record for the furthest jump on the Billboard Hot 100 after it jumped 96 places in its second week on the Billboard Hot 100 to reach number one.
Chubby Checker, 2008
In 2008, Chubby Checker's "The Twist" was named the biggest chart hit of all time by Billboard magazine. Billboard looked at all singles that made the charts between 1958 and 2008.
Kool & the Gang, 2008
The group saw a 15-year span with ten top 10 hits, beginning with “Jungle Boogie” in 1973 and ending with “Stone Love” in 1987.
Michael McDonald, 2008
Of his five Grammy awards, McDonald has won as a songwriter, performing as member of a group (Doobie Brothers) and a performing as a solo artist.
Brooks & Dunn, 2008
Brooks & Dunn’s 23 country charter-toppers has made for a career that’s seen Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn become the best-selling duo in country music history.
Keith Urban, 2009
Urban is the only person to have served as a judge on both The Voice and American Idol.
Tim McGraw, 2010
Twelve of his fourteen studio albums have also reached number one on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
Brad Paisley, 2011
He set a new record in 2009 for most consecutive singles (ten) reaching the top spot on the U.S. Billboard Country Airplay chart.
Lenny Kravitz, 2012
He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002, breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male.
Zac Brown Band, 2013
The number 1 peak on Mainstream Rock of "Heavy Is the Head" has made Zac Brown Band only the second musical act after Bon Jovi to have a number 1 single on both that chart and Country Airplay
Luke Bryan, 2014
Bryan is the reigning two-time CMA entertainer of the year, winning in both 2014 and 2015. Kid Rock, 2015 The genre-crossing artist has charted in the top five on the Adult Top 40 chart, US Country chart and US Mainstream Rock chart.
Kid Rock, 2015
The genre-crossing artist has charted in the top five on the Adult Top 40 chart, US Country chart and US Mainstream Rock chart.
Florida Georgia Line, 2016
Their debut single “Cruise” is the first-ever country single to earn diamond certification, is the best-selling country digital single of all time and overtook the record for the longest No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart.
It May Surprise You
Actor and recording artist John Corbett performed for the crowd of over 100,000 as he opened for Lisa Marie Presley prior to the running of the 2005 Pepsi 400.
In 2008, Academy Award-winner Kevin Costner his six-member “Modern West” rock band perform a one-hour pre-race concert inside the Sprint FANZONE prior to the 50th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola.
Good Sam Rally
This RV rally made its final 2012 stop at Daytona International Speedway as attendees had access to the 2.5-mile track by taking a spin in demonstration motorhomes. The event was headlined by a couple of bonafide legends in country superstar in Reba McEntire and legendary singer-songwriter Kenny Rogers.
Rogers serenaded the crowd with his greatest hits, while Reba engaged the audience with several of her chart-topping signature songs
An Eye For Talent
While DAYTONA prides itself on bringing in established acts, not every performer that comes to Daytona International Speedway is a household name or international star. While these artists all had experienced success prior to their trip to the World Center of Racing, their careers certainly skyrocketed following their appearances.
Harry Connick Jr.
Connick Jr. was already a widely respected jazz artist and actor when he sang the National Anthem for the 52nd running of the DAYTONA 500; however, his career went to new heights following his DAYTONA appearance. He was cast in his first lead role in the movie “Dolphin Tale” in 2011 and was selected as an American Idol judge in 2013.
While Blacc was starting to gain name recognition thanks to collaborations with Avicii, he was still a relative unknown by the mainstream. His most successful single as a solo artist to date, “The Man”, was released just six weeks before he sang the National Anthem at the 56th running of the DAYTONA 500.
Since then, he’s gained widespread exposure, confirmed by a 2015 Grammy nomination for “Lift Your Spirit” as Best R&B Album.
She certainly enjoyed success with The Black Eyed Peas as studio albums Elephunk and Monkey Business went 2x platinum and 4x platinum. However, by 2006 Fergie was looking to start a solo career, with her first album due to come out in September. Nearly 7 months prior, Fergie dazzled the crowd at DAYTONA with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem. Her first and only solo album went 3x platinum, had three songs peak at #1 on the US charts and introduced the world to the term “Fergilicious”.
More Than Country
While several of the concerts here have fallen into the country category, there are plenty of examples of a wide range of music genre that DAYTONA has hosted.
Multi-platinum Grammy-winning superstars Train, whose hits include “Hey Soul Sister” and the smash hit ““Hey, Soul Sister.”, performed an hour-long pre-race concert prior to the 54th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola.
3 Doors Down, 2005
3 Doors Down, one of America’s most popular rock and rolls bands, took the stage ahead of the 27th annual Budweiser Shootout. They made an excellent addition to an already exciting night of racing by playing from among six of their #1 hit singles, including “Kryptonite” and “Duck and Run”.
Bon Jovi, 2006
World-class rock act Bon Jovi headlined the pre-race festivities at the DAYTONA 500 next weekend. The high-energy show brought down the house with classic songs “It’s My Life”, “Have A Nice Day” and “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”.
Brian Wilson, 2005
The Beach Boys iconic and revolutionary frontman served as the main attraction for a DAYTONA 500 pre-race extravaganza that included several big names including soft rock’s Five for Fighting and R&B’s Vanessa Williams.
The history of music in Daytona Beach reaches a new milestone with the inaugural Country 500, May 27-29 -- Memorial Day Weekend. For tickets and more information, click here.