DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Faint tornado sirens in the background, flashes of lightning, and booming thunder -- ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2014 Daytona 500. Complete with warnings from the Red Cross advising fans to go to their cars and fasten their safety belts in case the worst occurs.
That is the scene at Daytona International Speedway, which has morphed from "The World Center of Racing" into "The World Center of Take Cover."
It all began shortly after 2 p.m. ET when NASCAR's signature event was halted for what was initially believed to be light showers that would soon dissipate. But while under the red flag, the showers turned into a heavy downpour with the sky becoming dark and angry.
The conditions became such that NASCAR evacuated the grandstands and posted a warning message on video screens across the track: "Please be aware that there is a potential threat of severe weather for this area in the forecast."
You know it's a bad sign when famed weatherman Jim Cantore is openly tweeting about the possibility of tornadoes in the surrounding Daytona area. And as if on cue, phones throughout the media center buzzed in unison when a tornado warning was officially issued for Volusia County.
The Daytona 500 is traditionally held on the third Sunday each February, but for the second time in three years it appears were headed for Monday Night NASCAR, according to NASCAR Sr. vice president Steve O'Donnell. Let's just hope this time around Juan Pablo Montoya stays far away from the jet dryers.