Planning to Make History in Daytona
by Anil Lewis
From the Editor: Anil Lewis is the past president of the National Federation of the Blind of Georgia and recently resigned from the NFB board of directors to become its director of strategic communications. One of his major projects is the publicity for the Blind Driver Challenge. Here is what he has to say about the debut of the first vehicle equipped with prototype technology to put blind people behind the wheel:
Where will you be when we demonstrate the most exciting technology ever to affect the lives of the blind? If you start planning now, you can be in Daytona Beach, Florida, with hundreds of other Federationists who will be on site to witness this truly momentous event. On January 29, 2011, the National Federation of the Blind's Blind Driver Challenge will be featured as part of the pre-race activities of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. In front of tens of thousands of fans, we will debut our prototype nonvisual interface that will empower a blind person to drive a car without sighted assistance. Who will be the driver? How does the interface work? What driving functions will be performed? Members of the National Federation of the Blind will be present in a big way to find out.
In Federation fashion, we have planned a fun-filled weekend of activity to celebrate this historic event. We are encouraging members to arrive in Daytona on Friday, January 28, and stay through Sunday, January 30. We have secured room and ticket prices that will make it possible for our members to attend. The following is a summary of event activities along with travel, lodging, transportation, and ticket information.
On Friday evening before the race, members are invited to gather in the ballroom of the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel for an update on organizational matters. Topics will be the logistics for the Blind Driver Challenge demonstration, the Imagination Fund campaign, and the Text2Give program. The race environment will be quite thrilling, and we encourage all race attendees to come to this session.
We will have Blind Driver Challenge polo shirts to commemorate the event. Members should wear the BDC shirts on Saturday to demonstrate their support. A limited number of BDC shirts will be available for sale in Daytona, but members are urged to purchase shirts from the NFB Independence Market before the event.
Round-trip transportation between the hotel and Daytona International Speedway will be available for our members to attend the demonstration only on the day of the event. Pick-up for attendees wanting transportation to Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, January 29, will be at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel. Buses will arrive at the track two hours before the yet-to-be-determined time of the demonstration. Buses will return to the hotel after the conclusion of the demonstration. Some buses will leave the track two hours after the event, and others will leave four hours after.
In addition to witnessing the actual Blind Driver Challenge demonstration, members are encouraged to visit the NFB Blind Driver Challenge at the Sprint FANZONE area of the Daytona International Speedway, which will be open on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The second Blind Driver Challenge vehicle will be on display in this area, as well as information on Text2Give, bumper stickers and other surprises.
We will conduct a press conference immediately after the track demonstration of the Blind Driver Challenge vehicle, and we hope all members will plan to attend. Finally, on Saturday night we will gather in the ballroom of the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel to celebrate the events of the day.
For the race weekend we have negotiated discounted lodging at three hotel properties adjacent to each other. A minimum stay of two nights during January 28 to 30, 2011, is required. You can take advantage of the prices listed below as long as rooms are available under our block:
- The Plaza Ocean Club Hotel is at 640 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach. Rooms are available at $103 (or $149 for ocean-front rooms). This will be the central location of activity; it is between the two hotels listed below, which are a quick walk away. Meetings throughout the weekend will take place in the ballroom of this hotel. To make a reservation, please call (386) 239-9800 and ask for the National Federation of the Blind pricing.
- Plaza Resort and Spa is located at 600 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach. Rooms are available at $129 (or $169 for ocean front rooms). This is an upscale hotel, and it has an additional $12 resort fee for those who stay there. To make a reservation, call (386) 255-4471 and ask for the National Federation of the Blind pricing.
- The Conch House is located at 700 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach. Rooms are available at $49 ($59 for ocean-front rooms). We negotiated this less expensive option for those who are working with a tight budget. Note that this property has an additional $3-a-day parking fee plus tax. To make a reservation, call (386) 255-3411 and ask for the National Federation of the Blind pricing.
- The rates for all three hotels are based on single/double/triple/quadruple occupancy, with an additional charge of $10 (plus tax) for each additional guest if more than four people are staying in the room. Rollaway beds are available for $10 a night plus tax. In-room safes are available at $1.50 a night plus tax. Local and toll-free outgoing phone calls are $1. Bellman gratuities are $2 per person or $4 per room. These services must be requested at the time of reservation.
- Reservations require an advance deposit equal to the total cost of the first night's room and tax and can be paid by check or credit card. The present room tax rate is 12.5 percent. Personal checks must include the individual's birth date, driver's license/identification state, and license/identification number. Please note that personal checks may be submitted as payment before December 29, 2010 only and will not be accepted at checkout. Only American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club, Discover, traveler's checks, and cash will be accepted at checkout.
- Make your reservations before December 29, 2010. Those who cancel their reservations less than seven days before the arrival date and those who do not check in before midnight on the first day will forfeit their first night's room deposit and tax, and the room will be released.
- The demonstration will take place as part of the pre-race activities of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. You must purchase race tickets in order to attend. We have also negotiated discounted race tickets. You can choose between the following two packages:
- The Race Rewards Package, which is normally $85, will cost our members $30 per person and includes infield and general admission for January 29-30, Rolex Series garage access, and $10 in Daytona Dollars (which are redeemable at any Daytona International Speedway concession stand). This does not include infield parking.
- The Speed Insider Package, which is normally $199, will cost our members $119 per person, and it includes single admission Pit Road Patio Access, providing admission into the Speed Pit Road Patios overlooking Pit Road for January 29-30, general admission access throughout the infield grandstands, Rolex Series garage access, Rolex 24 at Daytona hat, and lunch on Saturday. Infield parking is available (one pass for every four tickets purchased).
- Race tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP (1-800-748-7467) by January 23, 2011. Please note that a $14 processing fee will be added to your order, so attendees can reduce costs by ordering tickets in groups. Also please be aware that, while there is a will-call option, race day will be quite busy, and, since the price is the same to have tickets shipped, we urge attendees to have their tickets mailed to them.
- Attendees can also purchase a Daytona International Speedway cap, a Daytona International Speedway credential holder, and the Café 24 Breakfast Garage tickets (note that we will not be providing transportation to accommodate the breakfast option).
- If you are flying in to attend the event, you can use either the Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) or the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Those traveling to the Daytona Beach International Airport have a number of taxi and shuttle services to choose from. For more information go to <http://www.flydaytonafirst.com/default.htm> and search for taxis or shuttles. We recommend that those traveling to the Orlando International Airport use DoShuttle, which travels between the Orlando and Daytona Beach airports. Rates are $32 per person one way and $59 per person round trip. The extra fee for door-to-door service to our hotels is $10 per group each way. Shuttles depart the airport every two hours. For more information and reservations, call (866) 947-9947 or visit <http://www.doshuttle.com/> .
If you are planning to attend this exciting event but have not emailed to let us know, please email <[email protected]
> with a message letting us know you will be there. For more information about the NFB Blind Driver Challenge, visit our Website at <www.blinddriverchallenge.org>. For more information on logistics for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, contact Kristian Kuhnke at (410) 659-9314, extension 2219, or email <[email protected]