posted on Feb, 14 2004 @ 01:38 AM
Did you know that the races in Daytona originally started on the beach?
Before the superspeedways, corporate villages and big-money television deals, before NASCAR was the nation's largest spectator sport and Dale Jr. was
a household name, this was the heart of the NASCAR world.
The beach/road racecourse was a narrow, 4.1-mile oval, determined more by rising tides than design. Two miles headed north on the hard-packed Daytona
beaches and two miles headed south along a two-lane strip of Highway A1A.
From 1936 to 1958, 79 organized races -- 46 for automobiles and 33 for motorcycles -- were held on the famed beach/road course. It was those races --
and the outpouring of fan support for them -- that led to the eventual construction of the Daytona International Speedway, some 10 miles to the north.
"It's nothing like it is today. You would have cars on the south end that if they'd miss the turn, they'd go right over the edge. One crash would pile
on top of another. Sand is flying around, cars are fishtailing. Engines are backfiring. It was chaos -- but boy was it fun to watch. The fans felt
like part of the action. "
- Webber Johnson
Russ Truelove remembered his first race on the beach, in which one of the more experienced drivers offered some advice. He told Truelove that at the
beginning of the race, the sand was so blinding, he should cover his windshield in a piece of cardboard for the first straightaway. Just before the
first turn, he should rip it off and throw it away.
"But I'm like, 'What if the guy in front of me stops?'" Truelove said. "'I won't even see him.' He goes, 'It won't matter -- with the sand, you're not
going to see him anyway.'"
Sounds like it was pretty wild back then.