NASCAR Racing Used To Be Beach Racing

Welcome to Sunday Matinee, where we highlight classic car reviews or other longer videos I find on YouTube. Kick back and enjoy this blast from the past.


NASCAR's come a long way since its roots began with bootlegging in the American South. Millions of dollars are at stake each year, with huge sponsorship deals at state of the art race tracks. It wasn't always that way though. Back in the day, when you said you were racing at Daytona Beach, you really meant that you were racing at Daytona, on the beach.

Daytona Beach was used for land speed records up until the 1930s, due to its long expanse of flat, compacted sand. By the time the 1950s rolled around, land speed records were approaching speeds too high for even Florida, so they were re-located to places like Bonneville, in the desert. Beach racing continued, though, and it became a NASCAR-sanctioned event in 1949.

This particular race is from 1952, and the drivers would have to dash up the beach, onto a paved service road to bring them back, and then back again up the sandy beach. Each race was supposed to be 24 laps.

That's right, only supposed to be. The 1952 race was cut two laps short because of an incoming tide.

The last sanctioned NASCAR race at Daytona Beach was held in 1958, when it made way for the Daytona 500 the next year.



You know, I'd be more interested in watching a lot of forms of racing, but especially NASCAR, if they kept the number of laps down. I just can't bring myself to sit through 500 laps of any motorsport, it's so horribly dull.