Daytona Race Still Set for the Fourth

Volusia County fires under control, Pepsi 400 "a go" DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 1998) In spite of no less than 11 so-called "wildfires" still burning across Volusia County on Sunday, Daytona International Speedway officials said the...

Volusia County fires under control, Pepsi 400 "a go"

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 1998) In spite of no less than 11 so-called "wildfires" still burning across Volusia County on Sunday, Daytona International Speedway officials said the inaugural nighttime Pepsi 400 is planned to run on schedule at 8 p.m. on July 4.

NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams are scheduled to arrive Thursday morning.

Conditions throughout Volusia County have been charged with widespread smoke, haze and a pervasive odor from the more than 64 fires that have scorched over 80,000 acres throughout the county as of Sunday.

However, officials have declared that the 11 conflagrations in progress that day were "under control." In fact, speedway spokesman John Story on Sunday evening said most of the fires burning Sunday were "controlled burns, designed to burn off the undergrowth and minimize the risk of additional, uncontrolled fires."

"The speedway's physical plant has been largely unaffected by the fires, although we're certainly highly-concerned about the surrounding area and all our neighbors," Story said. "The smoke level this afternoon and evening has been negligible. Of course, 15 miles west of here where some fires are burning, there's smoke, but in Daytona Beach and at the speedway it's been fairly undetectable."

Story said that while some secondary roads had experienced brief closings, I-95 and I-4, the main arteries through the area, had remained open. While Governor Lawton Chiles traveled the area on Friday, it was simply to visit a hard-hit area of the state.

DIS President John Graham went as far as to deliver an emphatic vote of confidence for the event late last week, when the conditions across the county were a little more threatening, mostly for the landscape and wildlife.

"Although we have experienced some smoke and haze during the morning hours, daily ocean breezes from the east have created very clear conditions at the speedway in the afternoons and evenings," Graham said. "With the Pepsi 400 slated for an 8 p.m. start, we anticipate that the race will run right on schedule.

"While we are moving forward with preparations for the event, our hearts, prayers and thanks continue to go out to the firefighters and volunteers who are doing such a splendid job of safeguarding our community."

With that in mind, NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway and Americrown Service Corporation, International Speedway Corporation's concession and souvenir division, have teamed up to keep local firefighters well-equipped for the battle against Volusia County's wildfires.

In addition to the speedway's donation of more than 7,000 bottles of water and Americrown's donation of 4,000 bottles of Gatorade and NASCAR donation of additional Gatorade and coolers, the speedway sent four fire trucks and 30 employees assisting in the efforts to control the fires in the area.

"When we learned that water supplies were approaching critical levels, we took it as a challenge and got the project moving right away," said Graham, who began deliveries of supplies on Tuesday. "Based on the most recent information, we understand that now the number one request from firefighters is Gatorade, so we've stepped up our delivery efforts."

Among other things, the speedway has donated:

Speedway-owned radios and other communication devices

A standing offer to provide temporary housing at DIS for out-of-town firefighters

The use of one speedway-owned Pierce class A pumper fire truck

The use of three water-pumper Ford brush fire trucks

More than 30 speedway employees including firefighters, catering staff and other support personnel

A mobile kitchen unit provided on site at the Volusia County Emergency Operation Center producing both hot and cold meals

125 meals delivered three times daily to the Volusia County Emergency Operation Center

Meals delivered daily to Red Cross office personnel

Hundreds of box lunches and beverages delivered daily to firefighters in the field

Food to approximately 300 firefighters daily at Stetson University.

ISC, which has a history of strong cooperation among its facilities, is responding in kind this week. With the Pepsi 400 scheduled this week, employees from other International Speedway Corporation facilities in Watkins Glen, N.Y.; Talladega, Ala.; and Darlington, S.C. will fill the staffing void at the speedway.

"We are fortunate to be able to draw firefighting personnel from our sister ISC tracks," Graham said. "We hope that Daytona's equipment and personnel will be helpful in the community-wide effort to save homes and lives."

Also, a fund-raising effort has been started by speedway and ISC employees in order to purchase water coolers that will be donated to the Red Cross.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Graham