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Daytona


Florida

The Daytona Beach Area’s Proud Racing Heritage

From the historic timed trial that pitted wintering millionaires Ransom Olds and Alexander Winton against each other in 1903, to the present day, when famous race car drivers such as Jeff Gordon and Sterling Marlin compete head to head in the glorious race known as the Daytona 500, the Daytona Beach area has been, and continues to be, synonymous with speed.

Automobile racing has grown and evolved in the Daytona Beach area since the turn of the 20th century. The early roots of the sport can be traced back to Ormond Beach, a small beach resort town located north of Daytona Beach, and its most famous resident, oil billionaire John D. Rockefeller.

Though he was too old and frail to race himself, the sport of car racing owes a great debt to John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller, the richest man in the world at that time, wintered in Ormond Beach and eventually called it home in the last decade of his life. Because of his influence, other high-society playboy industrialists visited Ormond Beach to hob nob with the elite, play golf in the area, and soak up the sun and surf. Some playboys took their sporty cars with them for show and to experience the thrill of opening the throttle to zoom down the beach.

In a historic race between one of those playboys, Ransom E. Olds – father of the Oldsmobile – and Alexander Winton, Winton beat Ransom in the Ormond Challenge Cup – the sport’s first sanctioned timed trial. Winton in his “Bullet #1” edged out a victory against Olds in his “Pirate” by a narrow two-tenths of a second. Their battle launched America’s love of motor racing and the sleepy little winter resort town garnered its place in history as "The Birthplace of Speed." That seminal race didn't end Winton's fascination with speed. Determined to set a world Land Speed Record, Winton returned the next year with a faster car named "The Bullet No. 2" and set the Land Speed Record to 68 miles per hour. The event was chronicled in many newspapers and spread public awareness and interest in automobile racing among the elite.

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Automobile racing has grown and evolved in the Daytona Beach area since the turn of the 20th century.
Automobile racing has grown and evolved in the Daytona Beach area since the turn of the 20th century.

   
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Source: Daytona Beach CVB; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20070426
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