Daytona Speedway Take in Evacuees

Daytona International Speedway takes in evacuees Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 1998) A day after the news came that the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 would be postponed until October 17 due to wildfires in surrounding...

Daytona International Speedway takes in evacuees Brett Borden

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 1998) A day after the news came that the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 would be postponed until October 17 due to wildfires in surrounding areas, the race's television situation with CBS was as yet to be determined, while Daytona International Speedway intensified its efforts to help the surrounding community.

With the Pepsi 400's new date going up against the start of baseball's World Series and some high profile college football games, it was not known if CBS would still make history this year by broadcasting the first prime time network television NASCAR Winston Cup series race.

Meanwhile, in an effort to provide relief for the families evacuated from their Central Florida homes because of the recent brushfires, International Speedway Corporation and its employees pitched in by setting up shelter and food for the displaced residents. Early Friday, all of Flagler County (north of Daytona and Volusia County) was ordered to evacuate.

"We realize these people are evacuated and in a position of extreme discomfort," said John Graham, President of Daytona International Speedway. "We are providing all of the comforts of home that we can."

The speedway converted one of its larger buildings into a shelter with 250 beds, air conditioning, television sets, and plenty of food. There is also a hospitality tent set up for firefighters and national guardsmen with 145 cots, food and television.

"We're inviting any family that needs a place to stay," said Graham. "We'll have the shelter open for as long as people need it and we'll also be providing meals."

One of those needing a place to stay was Palm Coast resident Norbert Panet. Panet was one of many Flagler County residents ordered to evacuate on Friday as the brush fires moved closer to populated areas. He was headed to south Florida when he heard about the speedway shelter on the radio.

"We didn't want to leave," said Panet. "But the cops said 'you gotta go'. I think (the shelter) is the greatest idea I have heard of in my life. I expected this place to be fully loaded when I got here."

Evacuees were still trickling in by late Friday afternoon, while many of the firefighters were out trying to contain the many fires that were still going in Flagler, Volusia and Brevard counties.

Larry Wright of the Talladega Superspeedway Fire Department was one of many firefighters brought down by International Speedway Corporation along with water trucks to provide support as it sent its Daytona firefighters and trucks out to help on the battle lines. He said the Watkins Glen, Darlington, and Talladega departments were all glad they could help.

"The hospitality that's been shown is remarkable," he said. "Total strangers coming up to say 'Thank you' makes you feel good, but you wish you could do more. I think its nice that on such a family-oriented holiday as the 4th of July weekend that we could get 65-70 people down here to help.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Graham