DAYTONA BEACH — As world-class drivers prepare this week for the annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, a field of area chefs also is shifting into high gear for this year’s Taste of the 24, an annual fund-raising event that’s a traditional highlight of the big racing weekend.
This year’s trackside culinary showcase — a benefit for children’s health charities supported by the NASCAR Foundation — will unfold from 6-10 p.m. Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
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Based at the Speedway’s Midway Suites, the event offers an array of culinary treats from 19 of Volusia and Flagler counties’ most popular restaurants, served against the backdrop of the iconic 24-hour endurance race on the track below.
After limiting capacity by 50% a year ago and implementing other changes to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, the event returns to pretty much a pre-COVID mindset on Saturday, said Nichol Krieger, NASCAR Foundation executive director.
“We’re really back to normal in a great way,” Krieger said. “We’re still asking folks, if they are indoors, to wear a mask. But outside, in the corridors, it’s not necessary. They’ll be able to go into the suites to enjoy bite-sized samples of some of the favorite items served at these restaurants.”
This year’s restaurant lineup is 4 Rivers Smokehouse; 31 Supper Club; Ben & Jerry's; BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse; Crabby's Oceanside & New Smyrna Beach; Dave and Buster's; Daytona's Original First Turn Steakhouse; Donnie's Donuts; Kale Café; Oil and Vinegar; Rock Bottom; Sessions Restaurant Hard Rock Hotel; Sloppy Joe's Daytona Beach; SoNapa Grille; Stoked Poke; Texas Roadhouse Port Orange; The Blue Flame; Tijuana Flats; and Treats and Sweets Cakery.
For restaurants, event combines charity and marketing
For area restaurateurs, the event is an opportunity to support the community as well as introduce themselves to potential new customers.
“In partnering with NASCAR Foundation and all the other restaurants, it’s just a neat event to be a part of,” said Adam Barringer, owner of SoNapa Grille.
After participating in the early years of the Taste’s decade-plus connection to the Rolex, SoNapa Grille returns this year to showcase a trio of signature items from the restaurant’s Ormond Beach location that opened in March 2021.
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“We’re preparing our smoked salmon appetizer, lobster bisque and chicken marsala bites,” said Barringer, who hopes the samples might entice new customers to visit the restaurant. “The marketing exposure we get for helping out a charity is one of the reasons we’re involved.”
Another longtime restaurant participant, 31 Supper Club in Ormond Beach, will be showcasing dishes that include a Smoked Shrimp Remoulade, said Kris Dorough, general manager.
“It’s a variation of a shrimp cocktail in which the chef actually smokes the shrimp with applewood smoking chips, which gives it a rustic and deep flavor that’s just delicious,” said Dorough, who also noted the marketing potential of the event.
“It a chance to get out into the community among a lot of regular customers and a lot of new people and to see them at one time,” he said. “It’s a good way to connect with people you haven’t seen in a while. It’s a reminder that, ‘Here we are, come and see us again.’”
This year will be the second Taste of the 24 appearance for the Stoked Poke, which opened its location at One Daytona, across from the Speedway, this past October, said owner Eric Jackson. The restaurant will be showcasing its signature Hawaiian-style poke bowls (pronounced po-KAY), as well as some other variations, he said.
“It’s an event that’s put on in a venue that sees a ton of people,” Jackson said. “It’s great that they take time to highlight a lot of the local restaurants. The NASCAR Foundation is involved in a lot of community-driven stuff and it’s always good to give back.”
By late this week, ticket sales had topped the 1,200 mark, with VIP packages already sold-out, Krieger said. There are still general admission tickets available at $110 per person.
Those tickets include Taste of the 24 admission at the Speedway’s Midway Suites, a two-day pass to the Rolex 24 At Daytona that includes access to the infield, UNOH Fanzone, general admission front-stretch seating for two days of racing and a raffle ticket for a chance to win a Rolex Watch
A child’s ticket, at $24 per person for ages 12 and younger, includes Taste of the 24 admission and free access to the Rolex 24 At Daytona with parent’s ticket purchase.
Tickets are available by calling 386-310-5710 or visiting NASCARfoundation.org/Taste24. Online ticket sales will close at 5 p.m. Friday. On-site ticket sales will be available on Saturday in front of the Axalta entrance at the Speedway.
Rolex 24 Schedule
Thursday: Rolex 24 practice sessions begin at 11:05 a.m., 3:20 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.; Mazda Series race 5:30-6:15 p.m.
Friday: Mazda Series race from 10:15-11:30 a.m.; final Rolex 24 practice from 11:20-12:20; BMW Endurance Challenge (Michelin Pilot Challenge series) from 1:35-5:35.
Saturday: Start of 60th Rolex 24 at 1:40 p.m.
Sunday: Rolex 24 conclusion at 1:40 p.m.
• 4-Day Adult Tickets At Gate: $125 (Infield/Frontstretch/Garage Access); Kids 12-and-under FREE
• Sat-Sun Adult Tickets At Gate: $75 (Infield/Frontstretch/Garage Access); Kids 12-and-under FREE
• Sat-Sun Adult Tickets At Gate: $50 (Infield, Frontstretch Access): Kids 12-and-under FREE
• Sat-Sun Adult Tickets At Gate: $50 (Unreserved Frontstrech Seating): Kids 12-and-under FREE
More info: DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Taste of 24 benefit for NASCAR Foundation set for Rolex 24 At Daytona