Daytona Beach is all abuzz with talk of the "Thunder" being back in town the last couple days. When you hear "Thunder" mentioned this time of year they aren't speaking of the weather or our 2 yr old Arena Football Team, The Daytona Beach Thunder, they are speaking of NASCAR Thunder!
I've been hearing that Thunder for the past 2 days here at the office as the cars come up on Turn 2 and head to Turns 3 & 4, our office is about a mile from the Daytona International Speedway, as the Great Blue Heron flies off the backstretch and heads south. usually I hear everything that goes on there. (but I didn't hear the Rolex cars last week.) The drivers are testing out their machines at speeds from 183.194 MPH (Dale Jr's 10th fastest speed) to 183.974 (Tony Raines fastest lap time so far) this week in preparation for the Superbowl of racing, the 49th Daytona 500, the next round of testing is January 15th-17th for the NEXTEL Cup and BUSCH Series will be testing on January 20th - 23rd. THEN! We begin Preseason Thunder Fan Fest :
NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder Fan Fests: Jan. 9 - NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Fan Fest; Jan. 13 - NASCAR Craftsman Truck Fan Fest
Jan. 16 - NASCAR Nextel Cup Fan Fest;
Jan. 20+ 21 NASCAR Busch Series Fan Fest.
Then... what every NASCAR fan has been patiently waiting for since the last race of 2006~
Speedweeks and Daytona 500: The three-week speed festival highlights include the 29th annual Budweiser Shootout (Feb. 10), the 49th annual Gatorade Duel At Daytona (15th), the 8th annual Chevy Silverado HD 250 Craftsman Truck Series (16th), the 49th annual Daytona 300 Busch Series race (17th) and the 49th running of the Great American Race - The Daytona 500 scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. * (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 18th. (Information taken from Daytonainternationalspeedway.com)
If you are in town for the race, stop by The Speed Experience! This is a new event being put together and hosted by some real good friends of mine, it promises to be alot of fun, you'll find the The Speed Experience at
The Daytona Beach Flea Market, February 14th thru the 18th 2007
I-95 and International Speedway Blvd. 2987 Bellevue Ave, Daytona Beach
There'll be some great entertainment and meet some of the Coca Cola Racing Family like Kyle Petty. Racing great Marvin Panch will be there with his 1960 Daytona 500 winning 1960 Pontiac. Mickey Jones is our Master of Ceremonies and entertainment such as Pat Travers, Georgia Satellites and Rick Derringer are scheduled to perform. There is NO CHARGE to get in. I confirmed this on Monday Night.
A Little Racing History:
49 years ago Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500, apparently the race was so close that Johnny Beauchamp was actually celebrating because he thought he won. Imagine how disappointed he was... That was the only 500 Lee ever one, but his son Richard began as the "winningist" driver at Daytona with his first win there in 1964. The car Lee drove in 1959 used to be on display inside Daytona USA the last time I visited there, which is open to the public 7 days a week.
Stock car racing actually began in Daytona Beach back in 1936, they raced on the beach of what is now known as Ponce Inlet. In the old photos taken you can see how they would race down A1A and around the turns onto the beach and back to A1A with the famous Ponce Inlet Lighthouse in the background. The "track" was 3.2 miles long and the turns were banked sand. Can you imagine turning into a turn like that driving a stock car? Man those guys had to have some good strong arms! A small town mechanic who had a gas station on Main Street in Daytona Beach, Bill France began participating in the events, he finished 5th in the first one. In 1947 Bill France began NASCAR, National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. By the way, the gas station that Bill France owned still sits on Main Street and is now called the Main Street Station and is a favorite hangout of good hearted bikers as myself, the antique pumps long shut off still showing gas at 19 cents a gallon if I remember right, a pool table sits in one of the bays
In 1987 Bill Elliot set a 1 lap speed record at Daytona Speedway of 212.809 mph, a record that with the new NASCAR rules, and restrictor plates, this record will probably not ever get broken. (restrictor plates inhibit air flow to the engine and lesson horse power, ok.. so why even bother?) Remember the speeds I put up from yesterday? Yep, that's about as fast as it gets now...
If you do come to Daytona, head out to Ponce Inlet on A1A, there will be a restaurant on the Oceanside called "Racings North Turn". Stop and get a bite and a good rum runner, they have a huge patio that overlooks the beach and ocean along with indoor dining also. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Daytona Speedway Facts
40 feet wide with 12- to 30-foot apron
Banking: 31 degrees
(If you go into DAYTONA USA they have a mock set up of the banks where you can stand on them and get an idea of how steep they are.)
Length: 3,000 feet
Radius: 1,000 feet
Banking: 18 degrees (at start/finish line)
Chute length: 1,900 feet (from turn to middle of trioval)
Total length: 3,800 feet
Banking: Minimal for drainage only
Length: 3,000 feet
Banking: Minimal for drainage only
BOOGITY! BOOGITY! BOOGITY!
LET'S GO RACING!!!!
Source for Speedway Facts and a couple photos: http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/