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Continued: The Daytona Beach Area’s Proud Racing Heritage

After Winton's feat, 19 annual tournaments of speed were held on the shores of Ormond and Daytona Beach from 1904-1935, advancing the world Land Speed Record 15 times. In 1904, industrialist W.K. Vanderbilt crushed Winton's record, zooming down Ormond’s beach at an astounding 92.30 miles per hour in the "No. 1", his specially built Mercedes. Vanderbilt's feat received worldwide media attention and the event became the catalytic spark for associating Ormond and Daytona Beach with automobiles and speed.

Throughout those early years, other pioneers paved the way and accelerated the area's reputation as the "Birthplace of Speed". Names like Arthur MacDonald, H.L. Bowen, Frank Croker, the Stanley Brothers, Fred Marriott, Barney Oldfield, Ralph DePalma, and Tommy Milton were featured in newsreels and newspapers.

But it was throughout the late '20s and '30s that new significant historic milestones in speed were made and Daytona Beach became the proving ground for man and machine. Each attempt to break the record garnered worldwide attention, which lead to Daytona Beach being nicknamed the "World's Most Famous Beach." On March 29, 1927, Englishman Major Henry Segrave made automotive history by breaking the 200 mile per hour limit while racing down the sands of Daytona Beach in the Sunbeam "Mystery S," a car powered by twin Napier aero engines, which weighed over 6,000 pounds.

But right on Segrave's heels were other dashing daredevils of speed such as Philadelphian Ray Keech, and, another fellow Englishman, Sir Malcolm Campbell. Campbell was the most determined driver to set new speed records. Throughout his 25-year racing career, Campbell broke the world Land Speed Record nine times -- five of which occurred in Daytona Beach between 1928-1935.

Campbell was attracted to Daytona Beach because of its solid racing reputation, which had long since been established, and for its wide, flat beaches. Campbell's most famous run at Daytona Beach occurred in 1935. Like Segrave before him, Campbell was determined to set new speed precedents, and Campbell eyed the 300 mile per hour barrier. He nearly set it. Campbell's 29-foot long mechanical marvel, the "Bluebird V", weighed 12,000 pounds and was propelled by a monstrous 2,227 cubic inch supercharged V-12 Rolls Royce engine. Despite its enormous size and weight, the "Bluebird V" was capable of reaching speeds up to 300 miles per hour. It was a futuristic-looking car and its design has inspired and influenced modern automobile designs.

Pioneers paved the way and accelerated the area's reputation as the Birthplace of Speed
Pioneers paved the way and accelerated the area's reputation as the Birthplace of Speed



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