Diaries of a Daytona Addict: The Introduction

Daytona Toy Cars

This year will be our 16th visit to Florida to experience the Daytona 500. That represents a 28% attendance rate at the Great American Race at the World Centre of Racing. And, this year I'll be attempting to pass on some of that experience in the form of a day-by-day, blow-by-blow, account.

First you should know that everything about the event is overblown and exaggerated far beyond comparison with any other sporting event let alone any other form of motor racing. The cars only turn left, they weigh 2 tons, take 2 miles to get up to speed and lack sophistication in comparison to other forms of racing. Yet we love it. The cars are loud, colourful, fast and the excitement when the cars go three wide and four deep when they go for it is beautiful.

As a middle aged group of semi petrol heads in the 1990s we set to experiencing the world’s great motor races, Le Mans, the Gps at Spa and Monaco, the 500s at Indianapolis and Daytona, Pikes’s Peak, Bathurst 1000 and more. The big decision was which to do first. The choice of the Daytona 500 was almost organic. February is a quiet time of year, the flights are the cheapest of the year and we had access to inexpensive time share accommodation.

So why 16 times. Well, the convenience of February is still important as is the economics. The race is exciting on a once a year basis and it is so good to go away with your buddies. The truth is that the 500 is an itch that needs to be scratched. We cannot easily forget our first experience of arriving late to the Budweiser Shoot out and rushing through the under pass to track side just as the field came by at the start. The noise, the colour, speed and the blur at just 10 feet away was too much for the sense to cope with. For 10 seconds we were frozen to the spot and desperate to keep the contents of our bowels in place.

If I don't instil a desire in you to see Daytona I hope to at least instil a desire to get out and see the sporting occasions on your bucket list.

Day One

The Peckman is late. At the planning breakfast we have two things to decide, the timing of the pick-ups and the daily program up to the Daytona 500. The pick-up is to start at the Aigburth end of Liverpool at 7:00 am and the program is Wednesday at Orlando Speedworld for the Inet Legend Winter Nationals, Thursday at Daytona for the Twin 150 Duals, Friday at the Silver Spur Rodeo, Saturday at Old Town Cruise in Kissimee and Sunday at the 500. Simple. However, there is always one who will get it wrong. This time it is the Peckman. He is half an hour late.

There is no need to panic but it didn't stop the rash of panic texts. Jonesey was the last to pick up on the way to Manchester Airport and joined the Peckman, Knealey and myself. Unners made his own way. The check in is smooth and the full English breakfast, the first of many tasty but unhealthy meals, hits the spot. After nine hours, three films (which included between 150 and 200 killings), two meals, a trek through McCoy airport at Orlando we land at Beef O’Brady’s in Davenport for Burgers, fries, onion rings and lashings of Blue cheese sauce. There is one major problem at Beef's. They have run out of Burgers. Nooo! Good job Boldo was missing this year. He would have died on the spot.

Tomorrow, Legend and Bandolero racing....

All episodes:

Diaries of a Daytona Addict: #5 The Main Event

Diaries of a Daytona Addict: #4 Rodeos and V8s

Diaries of a Daytona Addict: #3 The Duels

Diaries of a Daytona Addict: #2 Legend and Bandolero racing

Diaries of a Daytona Addict: The Introduction

Author: Peter Morris