Treacherous weather delays Daytona 500 for more than 5 hours

Chaffin Mitchell
·2 min read

The Daytona 500 NASCAR race was off to a slow start on Sunday as a 30-minute lightning delay morphed into a weather delay that lasted nearly five and a half hours. Unfortunately for fans, the Daytona International Speedway was right in the line of fire of feisty storms on Sunday afternoon.

"This storm about to hit them is intense and borderline severe, gusts to 50 mph are likely," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said at 3 p.m. EST.

The same string of thunderstorms spawned a tornado that tore through a gated retirement community in Seminole, Florida, early on Sunday morning.

The car driven by Austin Dillon is pushed to the inspection area before the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Attendance was limited to 30,000 socially distanced fans, down from the 100,000 spectators that typically flock to Daytona International Speedway, due to COVID-19 restrictions; However, these weather delays likely had fans in the stands and at home watching the weather radar as thunderstorms threatened to throw a wrench in the action-packed end to the weekend.


Lightning was detected in the area around 3:30 p.m. EST, which put the race on hold.

Showers and thunderstorms were developing to the north and west of the racetrack at that time, according to Samuhel.

"At 4:52 p.m. EST, the lightning alert for the area was lifted," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said.

However, rain continued to pour across the area.

Thunderstorms approaching the track around 3 p.m. EDT.

"At the nearby Daytona Beach International Airport, over an inch of rainfall was recorded between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST," AccuWeather Meteorologist Mary Gilbert said.

Around 8 p.m. EST, NASCAR tweeted that track drying was underway so the race could continue at 9 p.m. Drivers were told to return to their cars at 8:45 p.m.

Shortly after 9 p.m. EST, NASCAR announced that the race was back in action.

Keep checking back on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.