On Tuesday, the staff of Daytona International Speedway celebrated the 60th service anniversary of Juanita “Lightnin” Epton, who has been a part of the speedway’s ticket office operation since 1958 when the “World Center of Racing” was being built.
The special reception took place in the Bill France Room at the Daytona International Speedway Ticket and Tours Building.
Epton is now 97 – she turns 98 in July – and resides in Ormond Beach. Having always believed her place was in the ticket office, until this February, she had never seen a DAYTONA 500 in person. This year, she finally watched a portion of the 60th annual DAYTONA 500 from a suite.
After 60 years, she has no plans of slowing down.
“As long as I feel good, I’m going to try to keep working and as long as I feel like I’m still of service, I’d like to continue,” Epton said. “But when I feel like I’m not doing my part … but I can’t imagine it not continuing to be exciting. When you’ve worked with [fans] for 50 years or more and they come back here and ask to see you, that’s a thrill.”
Epton’s late husband Joe was NASCAR’s first chief scorer. The couple first met Bill France at the fairgrounds in Spartanburg, S.C. where Joe was scoring races. When “Big Bill” began building Daytona International Speedway in 1958, the young couple moved down to Florida and “Lightnin’” started working in the ticket office alongside Anne B. France, Bill France’s wife.
“I couldn’t believe the size of it, because all we’d been used to was a half-mile or quarter-mile,” Epton said. “The largest track I’d even seen was Charlotte which was a mile. And Lake Lloyd – it was just beautiful. Everything … it was just so unique. I was so struck.”
Tickets for the July 5-July 7 Coke Zero Sugar 400 Weekend can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
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