On my first visit to Daytona Beach, Florida, I was told that there used to be stock car racing on the beach itself. It didn’t seem likely because the speed limit for civilians is 10 mph; but thanks to the wonders of YouTube, we can get a taste of the thrilling racing, that took place in the early days of NASCAR. This is a clip of the 1952 Modified-Sportsman Race that had ninety-seven competitors. Ninety-seven!
The 100-mile race started on the beach, went to the road and then back to the beach again. Sure, it’s an oval but a really, long one. Fans got up close to action, much like rally fans still do today. Oh and trust me, Daytona Beach doesn’t look like that anymore…at all!
I got a kick out of the observing the pit area, which was just a patch of sand where mechanics used sledgehammers to knock fenders and hoods off of cars, before sending them back out to race. Oh, and of course, the drivers wore regular clothes with hardly anything resembling safety gear, except the occasional pair of goggles and/or gloves. It was wild stuff, with bumping, sliding and crashing! We can only see brief glimpses of this unbridled competition in modern stock car racing. I fully understand why the elders yearn for the good old days.
This film demonstrates how far we have come in automotive safety and racing. This is from the former Speedvision TV network’s series “Victory Circle”. Recorded approx. 1998.