‘An honor I will never outlive:’ 102-year-old NASCAR employee gets box office name after her

DAYTONA Beach, Fla. – She’s 102 years old, has worked for NASCAR in Daytona Beach at the highway box office for over 80 years, and now Juanita “Lightnin” Epton will be an even more permanent name at Daytona International Speedway.

“Her story begins with the beach racetrack, ticketing with Annie B, then 65 years in this building,” said Frank Kelleher, president of highways.

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The box office is now named after her. It was a big surprise revealed to her on Thursday.

“This is an honor that I will never last longer,” Epton said.

“Lightnin”, a nickname given to her by her late husband, upon meeting Bill France, the founder of NASCAR, in 1945 in North Carolina. France hired this couple to work in Daytona, so they quickly packed up and moved down.

Epton’s husband, Joe, is a timekeeper and she works behind the ticket gates, quickly becoming a familiar face greeting fans.

“They love this race as much as we do,” Epton said.

She followed the transition from the old beach trail to the current international highway built in 1959.

“It’s a great feeling to know that we start with dirt and end with something beautiful,” she said.

Despite the changing landscape, leadership, cars and racers over the years, Epton remains a fixture. She said the passion from the fans has also not changed and has kept her going.


“We have customers who have been coming since the race started and who come back every year, customers who can and thank us for keeping the freeway open,” she said.

Work has changed a bit. She now sorts mail from the box office but Epton said she hopes to be remembered for her spirit: the kind and smiley woman who gave fans the keys to watching a race.

“I do not need it. That’s it. It is here. To thank people for who they are and for the loyalty of ticket buyers,” she said. “I will never forget that and God bless each one of you.”

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