Daytona Beach was founded in 1870, incorporated in 1876, and historically known for hard-packed sand which was conducive to the running of motorized vehicles on the beach. Hence, the birthday that we are celebrating is the fact that 80 years ago today (3/8/1936) was the first stock car race held on the Daytona Beach Road Course!
The winner of first race was Milt Marion of St. Albans New York. The race featured 27 cars, but finished with less than half (10). The original race was actually shortened from 250 miles to 241, because the impending tide was only going to leave enough room “with-wise” for only one car to finish the race at a time at the finish line.
The unique dimensions of the 3.2 mile course included a 1.5 mile straightaway on both the beach and pavement, with hairpin turns among the sand dunes.
The road/beach course was run until 1958. In 1959 the first Daytona 500 was run at the NEW DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY.
I’ve been to my share of races, both on asphalt, and on dirt, and I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to witness one of those beach/road races back in the day, I bet it was a BLAST!
(photos courtesy of: auto.howitworks, stockcar.racersunion, roadauthority, dreamstime, topix)