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Daytona Beach -supercharged speed
Daytona Beach is the home to wonderful stretches of sand, backed in parts by 50’s pop culture attractions. However, it is probably associated in most people’s minds with supercharged speed.
Daytona’s is still host to one of the last Atlantic coast Spring Breaks, albeit much more restrained nowadays, but it is during the Speed Weeks when the area really explodes. The association with speed originates from the days of Prohibition. During this era the production of moonshine, a high-octane corn liquor, was an important part of the economy of the Southern economy, and distribution was handled by young men driving cars fast enough to outrun the local law officers. When they were not ‘working’ the drivers raced against each other, and even when alcohol was legalised again, the races continued. The most popular and glamorous place to race and be seen was the Beach Street track in Daytona. It was here that Bill France a driving entrepreneur began promoting ‘Race Weeks’ which soon attracted thousands of drivers and spectators.
While many motor racing enthusiasts initially dismissed the sport as being for rednecks, driving cars which could be built by any mechanic in their home garage, Bill France had more faith and in 1947 organised the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing known better as NASCAR, whose headquarters are still in Daytona.
‘Speed weeks’ feature the Rolex 24 Race and the famous Daytona 500 during the first two weeks of February, while ‘Bike Week’ actually spans 10 days at the beginning of March each year and the Nascar ‘Pepsi 400 Meet’ is the highlight of the 4th July weekend for most race fans.
Today you can still drive along sections of the former raceway at Daytona. A speed limit of 10 mph is strictly enforced and of course access is only available during daylight hours, tides permitting!
However, if being associated with speed and party going high school students is not your idea of a holiday then Daytona still has plenty to offer. If your preferences are for more sedate amusements then the Boardwalk area between Auditorium Road and Main Street, despite suffering some damage in the hurricanes of 2004, still offers rides, go-carts and beachside patio areas where you can sit and sip a cool beer.
The Daytona Beach area is popular with loggerhead turtles as well as green turtles and sometimes leatherbacks and wild life enthusiasts are catered for at the Marine Science Center, which has become a rehab center for turtles and marine birds. Entry is only $5 for adults, reductions for Seniors and children, and daily guided tours are available but you may need to call ahead as spaces are limited.
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