by Dan Smith
Speed Weeks always rolls in a flurry of auto-related happenings throughout the area and this year is no exception.
On Friday, Feb. 15, the Ormond Beach Historical Society will present a screening of "The Great Sand Speedway" at the Anderson Price Memorial Building, 48 N. Beach St., Ormond Beach.
The film covers beach racing from the arrival of the earliest inventors to the culmination of the land speed records in 1935. Because of my involvement with the Birthplace Of Speed events, over the years I have worked with many productions on this subject. This is the best ever done. Talented filmmaker Virgil Taylor of WDSC public television has done some excellent projects in the past, but this time he has outdone himself. Perfectly narrated by racing announcer Preston Root, this piece is the result of years of work by local historians to "get it right" and tell the true story.
The DVD will begin at 7 p.m. and run for about an hour followed by a discussion with the audience. On hand to answer questions will be Mr. Taylor, Mr. Root, Suzanne Heddy of the Ormond Beach Historical Society and yours truly. Admission is $5 for non- society members and $3 for members.
My new book "The World's Greatest Beach", T-shirts and other Birthplace of Speed souvenirs will be on sale to benefit the historical society. Come on out and spend some time with us and find out what really happened on the beach. For details call (386) 677-7005.
On Saturday, Feb. 16, the Living legends Of Auto Racing will put cars on the sand to retrace the last beach road course in Ponce Inlet. Pre-1959 vintage racers and classics should be in the parking lot of Racing's North Turn restaurant by 8 a.m. to participate. The Living Legends always do a great job and many of the men and women who raced on the beach will be there. After the parade, stop in at Racing's North Turn to meet them all. Buz McKim of The NASCAR Hall Of Fame will be on hand to lead the fun. It's one thing to talk about racing's past, but there you will be able to witness it.
On Monday, Feb. 18, the Victory Lane Racing Association will host its "Back To The Roots" celebration at Bill France's former gas station on Main Street, Daytona Beach. From 5 until 7:30 p.m. there will be an autograph session where you will be able to meet the men who raced on the sand. Racing related items will be sold to benefit the Drivers Helping Drivers fund.
If you are a visitor or a local, you should stop by the Original First Turn Steakhouse 5236 S. Ridgewood Ave. in Port Orange. There you will find an unmatched collection of racing photos from the beach and the track. Denise Hilliard, the manager, will be happy to show you her favorites. Not long ago I stopped there to see a picture of the photographer that was killed by the wreck of the Triplex in 1929. Pretty morbid to be sure but a very rare and important historical photo nonetheless.
That's just some of the fun to be had during race weeks. Get out and take advantage of living at the world's center of racing and all the while listen to the hum of the big engines just a few miles away.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, "The World's Greatest Beach" and "I Swear the Snook Drowned." E-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (386) 441-7793.