by Dan Smith
Once again the Daytona Beach area will be the center of the classic and custom car universe this Thanksgiving weekend.
Fans of the automobile from all across America will choose to spend their holiday in Volusia County. The big four-day Turkey Run show at Daytona International Speedway will host up to 5,000 customs and hot rods and, up in Ormond Beach, The Birthplace of Speed events will present some of the world's finest pure restorations. The world famous Gaslight Parade will be on A1A on Friday night and the antique car show will be on the northeast corner of the big bridge on Saturday.
The Thanksgiving car weekend began in 1959 making it one of the oldest continuous shows in the nation. Actually the roots of the big automobile celebration began back in 1903 when the very first race was held on the beach at Ormond. That one mile drag race between the Olds Pirate and the Winton Bullet would forever brand this area as a Mecca of speed. In the entire world there are but a few cities whose name is synonymous with auto racing. Daytona Beach certainly ranks near the top. Each year on Thanksgiving we get to enjoy the results of that fame.
I will be in Fortunato Park in Ormond Beach on Saturday at the Birthplace of Speed Show with my group the Motor Racing Heritage Association. We are hoping to sell the remainder of our bricks from the original Ormond Garage in order to build our replica of that famous facility. Back in 1976, I watched the original garage burn down on East Granada Boulevard. Built in 1904 by Henry Flagler, it was the first facility in the world built to house and repair racecars. To this day it is revered by fans of the automobile.
The MRHA is now nearing completion of a long quest to build a small version of the garage in The Birthplace Of Speed Park on the dunes overlooking the original start line of those ancient races. Our garage will house the two replica racecar monuments that were bought by the city for the 2003 Centennial of Racing. When it is completed, the MRHA will make a gift of it to the City Of Ormond Beach.
We began this project back in 2009 so it has been a long and difficult haul but now the end is in sight. With your help this weekend can put us over the top. If you know someone in your family who might like to own a rare piece of racing history come and see me in the park from 10am until 3pm on Saturday. The bricks are suitably aged and a bit banged up and come with a certificate of authenticity for a tax-deductible donation of $200. A brick would make a fine Christmas gift for anyone who is a fan of racing, cars or history. For those of you who wish to get a personalized copy of my fishing book, they will also be for sale by the Ormond Beach Historical Society. The OBHS also sells great Birthplace of Speed caps, T-shirts and books.
Folks this is a great way to spend your Saturday after the holiday. Pack up a couple turkey sandwiches and come on out to enjoy the fine cars in a beautiful setting along the Halifax River. The car show and parade in Ormond Beach is free to spectators.
Stop by our table and talk a little history with us (or fishing) and help us finish our very worthwhile project.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society, The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of a fishing book.