DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne took a drive down memory lane Friday with a trip around the historic beach course that preceded the Daytona International Speedway.
Bayne piloted the iconic Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford from a portion of the old beach course through the streets of Daytona Beach before delivering the green flag to be used in next Sunday's Daytona 500 to DIS.
"This is probably the coolest thing I've gotten to do outside of actually racing on other tracks," Bayne said. "This is an unbelievable feeling, being on the beach where it all started. This is history right here. I almost want to bottle up the sand and take it with me because this is where it started for Daytona. This is where it started for NASCAR.
"Being in the No. 21 car here, I feel like I'm part of history."
More than half of the temporary track was sand, a pair of turns and a long strip of beach linked to Route A1A’s pavement. It was unique to say the least but ultimately drew tens of thousands of post-war race fans to Central Florida before Speedweeks was shifted a few miles northwest to Daytona International Speedway in 1959.
"It was just like a dirt track," said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Glen Wood, who won three sportsman races on the beach and finished 11th in his only NASCAR premier series start in 1957. "The turns were like a half-mile track – one bank to the other."
Bayne drove his No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford over a section of the beach course to the track’s former north turn. Following a press conference, Bayne went on to the speedway.
Racing began on a 3.2-mile course in 1936. Daytona Beach racer Sig Haugdahl promoted the first two events, which weren’t commercially successful. City officials gave promotional rights to Bill France, who wore both a promoter’s hat and a competitor’s helmet – and with the latter won the Labor Day event in 1938 and a July race the following year.
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