The most visible piece of property at the Daytona 500 sits in the middle of the action. It always seems to find the spotlight so it needs to be in perfect condition.
Who tends to the field every day for months ahead of the race? We introduce you to Jason Griffeth.
“It is my fourth Daytona 500,” he tells us. “It has been awesome, absolutely awesome, it was the best decision of my life to come down here.”
Griffeth is the grounds supervisor at the Daytona International Speedway. He previously worked at a golf course while he was a student in high school. He was raised in Maine on a potato farm so he has always enjoyed the outdoors.
“My boss asked me, he said, ‘What are you going to do in school next year?’ I said, ‘I have not really thought about it,’ so he suggested I go into turf. I was surprised you could go to school for it but I did it,” says Griffeth.
He interned with the Boston Red Sox in college and then the organization offered him a job.
“The story I like to tell is I was cut from my Babe Ruth team,” says Griffeth. “I was cut but, now I have three World Series rings.”
After nearly 15 years at Fenway Park, Griffeth brought his green thumb from the Green Monster to Daytona to dabble in the art of the infield.
“This was an awesome opportunity,” says Griffeth, “and I just could not pass it up. If I passed it up, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life so I had to take a shot.”
He is thrilled to be here but he admits the job can be challenging.
“It is two different types of grass actually,” he tells us. “We will kind of color it in like a coloring book with seed.”
The preparation process for the tri-oval area begins in November.
“We dropped a little bit more than 3,000 pounds of seed, which amounts to over 837 million individual seeds. We will fertilize the seeds with the starter fertilizer, a little bit more than 1,000 pounds of it,” says Griffeth.
The attention to detail is important because without it the grand finale would not be so grand. Griffeth tells us he has one worry when he plants the seeds.
He says, “The biggest thing is you have to make sure you have the right color seed in the right spot.”
Unfortunately, the crashes often cut through the field leaving plenty of spots for Griffeth to fix.
“Coming from baseball, I am used to like 2-inch divots and now I have got 300-foot-long divots,” Griffeth tells us with a smile.
He must repair the damage overnight so the image is perfect for the main event on Sunday February 17, the Daytona 500