DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – She’s 102 years old, has worked for NASCAR in Daytona Beach at the speedway’s ticket office for over 80 years, and now, Juanita “Lightnin” Epton will be an even more permanent name at Daytona International Speedway.
“Her story dates back to the beach track, to selling tickets with Annie B, to then 65 years in this building,” said Frank Kelleher, the speedway president.
The ticket office is now named after her. It was a big surprise revealed to her Thursday.
“This is an honor I’ll never outlive,” Epton said.
“Lightnin’,” a nickname given by her late husband, met Bill France, the founder of NASCAR, in 1945 in North Carolina. France hired the couple to work in Daytona so they quickly packed up and moved down.
Epton’s husband, Joe, was a timer and she worked behind the ticket window, quickly becoming a familiar face who greeted fans.
“They love this race just as much as we do,” Epton said.
She’s 102 yrs old & still working 5 days a week in the @DAYTONA ticket office where she’s worked for over 80 yrs… and now, the office is officially named after her. Congrats Lightnin’! Catch her story tonight on @news6wkmg pic.twitter.com/A9yYyf2hvh
— Molly Reed (@Mollyreednews) August 25, 2022
She watched the transition from the old beach track to the current international speedway built in 1959.
“It was a wonderful feeling to know that we started with dirt and ended up with something beautiful,” she said.
Despite the change of scenery, leadership, cars and racers over the years, Epton’s been a fixture. She said the passion from the fans also hasn’t changed and has kept her going.
“We have customers that have been coming since the race started and they come back each year, those that can, and thank us for keeping the speedway open,” she said.
The job has changed a little. She now sorts mail in the ticket office but Epton said she hopes to be remembered for her spirit: the kind and smiling woman who gave fans their key to see a race.
“I didn’t need it. That’s that. It’s in here. To thank the people for being what they are and the loyalty of the ticket customers,” she said. ”I’ll never forget it and God bless each and every one of you.”
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