Legends of racing return to the beach at Daytona

The last NASCAR race on Daytona Beach sand took place in 1958. Each year old-timers like Glen Wood, Marvin Panch, Ray Park, Vicki Wood and Russ Truelove gather for another lap around the old course.

Daytona Beach, Fla. – Prior to the opening of the Daytona International Speedway, racing took place on the beach on the south end of the famed beach. Racers careened around a unique 4.1-mile oval half on pavement (A1A) and half on the packed sand of the beach. Although the last race on the sand took place in 1958, old-timers gather annually to reminisce and tell tall tales.

One of their annual activities is to parade around on or near the old course. To the delight of a large crowd of onlookers, they did just that over the weekend, taking their old cars around the actual course. In previous years, they weren’t allowed on the beach and in particular, on a portion of the old course. After gaining requisite approvals and agreeing to specific terms, the restrictions were lifted, allowing some four dozen old-time vehicles to take an exhibition lap.

Vintage race cars parade on the beach
Vintage race cars parade on the beach

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Racing’s North Turn restaurant sits at the north end of the old course, and the parade started and stopped there. After the parade, the drivers convened inside the restaurant to greet the fans and to sign autographs. Their cars were on display outside the restaurant.

Legends in attendance included Glenn Wood, Marvin Panch, Ray Park, Vicki Wood and Russ Truelove, to name a few.

As usual, Ms. Wood, thought to be in her late 80s, headed the parade, riding in a restored Ford Thunderbird. “It sure is fun to be here and brings back a lot of memories,” she said. “It doesn’t seem that long ago that I went 150 miles per hour (in a speed run on the beach). I like seeing everyone each year.”

Truelove gained national fame when he flipped his Mercury in a spectacular wreck in 1956. He has restored the car and tows it from his Connecticut home each winter. “I have been working on my car, and I having a wonderful time here,” said Truelove, who is always a fan favorite.

For the rest of the month, the old-timers will be making appearances and enjoying their time in the sun. Also, they will be making plans for their 2014 reunion.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Marvin Panch , Eric Gilbert , Russ Truelove
Article type Special feature
Tags glen wood, history, marvin panch, nascar, ray park, russ truelove, vicki wood