Daytona – The Daytona Beach Road Course
There were 11 world land speed records set on Daytona Beach during the years 1904 to 1935.
After this date, in 1936 many of the world land speed races moved from Daytona Beach to the Salt Flats in Utah. The final speed record had been set along Daytona’s hard packed beach.
Interest in racing was still high in the area and Sig Haughdahl suggested creating a 3.2 mile oval track along the beach. The 1.5 mile measurement along the beach was measured where “Campbell’s Measured Mile” had been. This was known as the Daytona Beach Road Course and the course was constructed between Dunlawton and Silver Beach within the city limits of Daytona Beach Shores.
The Daytona Beach Road Course’s first race was sanctioned by the AAA (American Auto Association) on March 8, 1936. Daytona Beach attempted to organize & promote the race that had a $5000 purse, due to winds and bad driving conditions the track became impassable and the race was forced to end early, resulting in numerous disputes about the results. Milt Marion was named the winner by the AAA . Unfortunatley, the city of Daytona Beach lost 22,000 attempting to promote the race and has not promoted an event since.
In 1937 the Daytona Beach Elks Club promoted the racing event and lost money. So in 1938 Bill France, a racer and garage owner in Daytona beach took over promoting the race and was extremely successful. Bill France promoted the race at the Daytona Beach Road Course from 1938 until 1942.
Races were not regularly held from 1942 until 1948 due to WW2.
After the war, The Daytona Beach Road Course was moved to the location north on A1A, the present location of Racing’s North Turn Restaurant & Lounge was the actual mnorth turn of the track. Thousands used to show up to see the races. Organized Events were beginning to be held around the country. Many times, unscrupulous promoters would blow town with the cash and drivers would not be paid. Promoters needed to organize their efforts. Bill France started to hold talks at the Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotel with other race promoters from around the country they organized themselves and formed NASCAR in 1948.
The racing continued at The Daytona Beach Road Course with events scheduled yearly thru 1958. The Daytona Beach Raod Course closed when the Daytona International Speedway opened in 1958.
This is an excerpt from an article I read that was written by Bill France Jr. :
I actually worked the races after the war when I was older and part of my responsibility was to try to keep spectators from sneaking in without paying. One of the things we did to keep people from sneaking over the sand dunes where we might not see them was put out signs in those areas that said, “Danger, Beware of Rattlesnakes.”
People have asked me from time to time what the purses were for those races on the beach and I remember $100 being paid one time for first place. I don’t remember what year that was but that was a lot of money back then. Another thing I remember from way back is something my father said then that still holds true today. He said, ‘Stock car racing is the one sport where the automobile is the equalizer as far as physical abilities. In basketball, the tall guy has advantages. In football, it’s the bigger fellow that has an edge.
“In racing, your size has nothing to do with how successful you are.” That was true then and it’s true today.
Elizabeth M. says
What a nice summary of the Daytona Speedway history. I have heard the rumor about there being rattlesnakes there in the old days…now I know the rest of the story.