A fairly new tradition took place again today; Saturday, Feb 15th in Ponce Inlet, Florida. For the third year in a row, 1950's Era race cars paraded along the route once used to hold the races that are now the Daytona 500. This Racing Legends Beach Course Parade started at 1pm at the North Turn restaurant, located at 4511 S. Atlantic Ave in Ponce Inlet.
It all didn't start off to well, as it rained early and was overcast with winds and chilly temperatures reminding us how fickle the weather can be this time of year. It cleared up to the delight of what looked to be several thousand spectators however and the show was on!
The cars all gathered across from the North Turn, awaiting the starting time of 1pm to head on out and relive the moments that started it all - racing on the beach that was home to NASCAR until 1958. This was the year before the first Daytona 500 at the then brand-new Daytona International Speedway.
It was close to 40 cars in all that participated today and remember; all of these were driven under their own power so the sound and look was just like years long ago. The route was run pretty close to the old races in that they drove south down A1A about 2 miles on the pavement, then entered the beach area much like they did in the 50's. Down the beach they came, escorted by the Beach Patrol for another 2 miles back to the North Turn and thus the 4.2 mile "track" was complete.
With Race Weeks in Full swing here in Daytona, what better way to kick off the season? Names like Fireball Roberts, Junior Johnson and some not so familiar names too - all brought back to life the history of the sport. It was amazing to see the simplicity of form and function and yes; all not-too-safe it would seem equipment these guys all raced with for the love of it all. As they say - they had gasoline running through their veins - AWESOME is all you could say!
- Gary Rosier