Sunday, November 26, 2017

Daytona Beach

November 2017 - Daytona Beach FL

The plan was to only drive three hours today and enjoy some of the sunshine.

We were going to have a late lunch at Joe's Crab Shack before we checked into the hotel so we parked in the first lot we found, $15.
I stepped out of the car and saw a Hilton to our right and said "we could have saved $15 and parked at our hotel!"

Daytona Beach was founded in 1870 and officially became a city when it was incorporated in 1876. Most sources agree that it received its name from its founder Matthias D. Day, a business tycoon from Mansfield, Ohio. He purchased 3,200 acres in the fall of 1870 for the sum of $1,200.

Made famous for its wide beach and smooth, hard-packed sands, Daytona Beach became widely known in the early 1900s for high-speed automobile testing, and later, racing. This made the beach a mecca for racing enthusiasts.

By the 1920s, it was dubbed the “World’s Most Famous Beach.” As more and more racing took place, the sandy beaches gave way to the development of the famous racetrack known as the Daytona International Speedway, which was built by NASCAR founder William “Bill” France. The speedway has been hosting the Daytona 500 since 1959 and attracts thousands of tourists and race enthusiasts from all over the world in search of thrills.

The glass building on the right is our hotel.


The Clock Tower has stood as a symbolic landmark for the "World's Most Famous Beach" since its construction was completed in 1937. Its four, one-of-a-kind, 48 inch diameter clock dials [which were made from vitrolite6 glass with a milk white color] featured the twelve letters of the city (D-A-Y-T-O-N-A-B-E-A-C-H) instead of the traditional one through twelve Arabic or Roman numerals. The original hour and minute hands were made from wood. The structure itself is constructed of reinforced concrete faced with coquina rock and stands 55 feet tall. The base has circular steps and a low masonry railing with arched openings that surround the fountain pool. It is classified as being of a late 19th and 20th century Revival/late Gothic Revival architectural style.

In the 1920s, residents of Daytona Beach considered this area to be run-down and held discussions on ways to improve it.

In 1936, WPA workers began construction on this community-use project that was to cost Daytona Beach $84,000, the federal government $184,000, and be completed in 1938. Originally known as "Broadwalk", common usage gradually changed the name to the boardwalk.

The first facility constructed was the 48 foot by 114 foot natural coquina rock bandshell which seats 4,500. This was begun in September, 1936, and was completed in time for the first program to be presented on July 4, 1937. Open air concerts, as well as other programs, are still presented in the bandshell. The other structures in the boardwalk area are a clock tower, kiosk, concession facilities, restrooms, subway entrances (now closed), and an elevated walk from Earl to Ora Streets.

Daytona Beach is dubbed the “World’s Most Famous Beach” for a variety of reasons, but mainly for its 23 miles of wide, hard-packed sand that welcomed the first automobile and motorcycle races in 1902.

Beach driving is one of the most popular and iconic activities beach goers have come to enjoy as part of their Daytona Beach vacation tradition. Take a scenic ride or put your car in park to enjoy a beach day with everything you need just a stone’s throw from your beach towel.

Frank Stallworth Lockhart (born April 8, 1903 at Dayton, Ohio - April 25, 1928 at Daytona Beach, Florida) was an American automobile racing driver active in the 1920s, considered by many historians to be a legend in the sport on par with 1960s British World Driving Champion Jim Clark. During a "remarkable if all too short" career, Lockhart won numerous races on dirt, board tracks, the 1926 Indianapolis 500, and set a world land speed record for a distance average. In all, he had nine AAA wins and two vice-championships in two years of competition.

The Daytona Beach Boardwalk, also known as the Daytona Beach Broadwalk, was built in 1938. It is open seven days a week and consists of a concrete walkway with various stores and shops including the City Walk shopping and entertainment complex, hotels, gift shops, amusement centers, arcades, restaurants and bars. It also features outdoor and indoor rides like the Ferris wheel, Slingshot, Hurricane, Tilt-O-Whirl, go-carts and rollercoaster.

The Daytona Beach Pier is the most recognizable landmark on Daytona Beach and has been the center of beach life since the beginning of the community.

The original pier, constructed of palm logs, was built before the turn of the 20th century and extended 600 feet into the ocean. It was built by Thomas Keating and was known as the Keating Pier. It was located at the end of Main Street, where the present pier is located.

On January 20, 1920 a tremendous fire destroyed the pavilion and most of the pier. In 1924, Keating sold the remains of the pier to Jeter McMillan who tore it down and began construction of a new pier. The new Pier Casino opened on June 11, 1925. The pier was 1,000 feet in length and featured a Victorian style building. Its ornate ballroom could accommodate 2,000 dancers and hosted some of the top bands of the day. In addition to dances, the Pier Casino was the scene of charity balls, weddings, beauty contest, social events as well as civic meetings. 

During the years of beach racing, some of the pilings were removed to allow race cars to pass under the pier. The Pier Casino was also a popular location for photos of the famous racers who came to Daytona Beach. Those photos were seen worldwide and helped Daytona Beach to become known as “The World’s Most Famous Beach.”

In 2012 Joe's Crab Shack moved in.

The clock Tower from our hotel room.

The next morning as we are leaving town.

Beach racing in Ormond was an idea of J.F. Hathaway, a guest of the Hotel Ormond. Hathaway noted the heavily packed sand was perfect for driving his auto. In 1902, he observed a bicycle race on the beach and became eager to stage an automobile race there also. He shared his idea with Price, Anderson, and W.J. Morgan, a sponsor of bicycle races and a New York sports writer. The first race was held on Ormond’s beach in 1903. In 1904, Flagler built the Ormond Garage just east of the hotel to house the cars brought to participate in the annual races. Some of the early racers and enthusiasts were Ransom E. Olds, Alexander Winton, William K. Vanderbilt II, Barney Oldfield, Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, Glenn Curtiss, and Sir Malcolm Campbell. Unfortunately, the Ormond Garage burned down in 1976.

Birthplace of Speed Park, commemorating the world’s first time trials, is located where Granada Boulevard S.R. 40) meets the beach. The Motor Racing Heritage Association raised funds to build a small replica of the Ormond Garage in the park.

The park was dedicated March 28, 2013, exactly 110 years after the first race. The garage houses replicas of Bullet #1 and the Pirate automobiles.


  1. In my childhood I remember the Daytona 500. I guess there are no sand critters along the beach to destroy if cars are constantly driving over the sand. It is a nice looking town and not at all like I imagined. You had good views from your hotel, but then you are used to good views.

  2. Quite a beach, and I do like that clock tower!


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