Daytona--There's No Place Like It by Rich Romer American Racing Journal Daytona International Speedway, there's no other place like it. It is not only a superb racing facility, but it has a history, and a legend, and a magic about it that is ...
Daytona--There's No Place Like It
by Rich Romer
American Racing Journal
Daytona International Speedway, there's no other place like it. It is not only a superb racing facility, but it has a history, and a legend, and a magic about it that is matched in the U.S. only by Indianapolis. The tradition dates back to the Beach, the land speed records established there long before anyone went to Bonneville and, of course, the stock car races on the Beach before Bill France build and opened the Speedway in 1959. It helps that Daytona Speedweeks mark a Rite of Spring coming in February when those of us who live in the North are getting tired of shoveling snow. Last week was the Rolex 24 Hour Grand American Sports Car race at Daytona. For the first time, Speedvision televised the entire 24 hours without a break--milestone television and surprisingly interested. For the second year, the endurance race was won by a Grand Touring car and not a racing prototype, The winner for 2001 was a Chevrolet Corvette C5R--a sister car to the one co-driven by NASCAR Winston Cup stars Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
The trip to Florida from Southern Maryland was easy this year--12 hours door to door--a personal best. We head southwest across Maryland and Virginia intersecting I95 north of Richmond and then roar south until we get to Daytona Beach. The stream of traffic moved at 85 mph through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. We only saw three police cars the whole trip--two alongside the road in North Carolina which the radar detecter found before they found us--and one in South Carolina who came up behind us with lights ablaze and siren blaring going at least 100 on his way to some emergency.
Spent yesterday at the Speedway. Practice periods for both the NASCAR Goodies Dash and the ARCA RE/MAX series followed by qualifying rounds. Each car in both series took two laps at speed for their one shot at making the race. 48 Dash cars took their shot at the 42 starting slots in Saturday's race which will follow first round Winston Cup qualifying. 36 cars will make the race based on their qualifying time along with 6 more racers who are former series champions or who have provisionals from last year. 59 ARCA cars took qualifying times for 42 starting slots. Again, 36 will make the race based on their qualifying time and 6 more who are former champions or have provisionals from 2000. Andy Belmont entered a 1997 Ford Thunderbird with a Jasper Engine and qualified in the middle of the pack. After qualifying, he observed, "I am pleased with our performance because that is the speed I can run all day. These other guys will be slower in the race than they were qualifying." The ARCA 200 mile race is scheduled for Sunday after the Budweiser Shootout. It will be televised on Speedvision.
Today's schedule features the first day on the track for the Winston Cup cars which were all in the garage area yesterday. There will be short practice period for both Goodies Dash and ARCA teams and the IROC cars will take to the track as the drivers try to make them absolutely equal for next Friday's race. Tonight, Richard Childress Racing and America Online hold a press conference to announce the worst kept secret in racing--that AOL is sponsoring 2000 NASCAR Busch Grand National Rookie of the Year Kevin Harvick for 7 Winston Cup races this year and the full season next year. The value of this year's AOL contract with RCR is rumored to be $1 million.