NASCAR is Born
"Bill" France had moved his family to Daytona Beach from Washington D.C. in 1934. He first worked as a mechanic
at Robbins Radiator Works then later went on to the Daytona Motor Company (now Lloyd Buick Cadillac) on Beach Street. He maintained his race driving on dirt tracks throughout the South . Later he bought a gas station at 316 Main Street and became a permanent resident. France ended up owning the Bluebird V which is on display at DAYTONA USA in the Daytona International Speedway site.
The first sanctioned motorcyle endurance race was held on Sig Haughdahl’s course in 1937. The winner of that race was Ed Kretz, Sr. However, World War II put a damper on racing in Daytona Beach and there was no
racing from 1941- 1947. In 1947, France embarked on a career as a racing promoter with a motorcycle race with 184 riders. That same summer he held a modified car stock race on the beach. Drivers in that race included
"Fonty" Flock, Marshall Teague and Glenn "Fireball" Roberts.
By the late 1940’s, it was obvious to France and others that the sport of motor racing needed a sanctioning body of its own. In
December 1947, France, Bill Tuthill and 18 racing men gathered in the Streamline Hotel (now a Youth Hostel) at 14 0 South Atlantic Avenue in
Daytona Beach to form the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) with France as its President. The name was coined by legendary Atlanta racing
mechanic, Red Vogt, who operated a garage on Bellevue Avenue behind the Daytona Beach Airport. Tuthill
was the national secretary and Erwin G. "Cannonball" Baker was Commissioner. The first office was in the Selden Building located at 800 Main Street (now Froggy’s Saloon.)
Later the NASCAR office was moved to 42 N. Peninsula Drive. Although they promoted races all over the South, their main event was at Daytona Beach. France moved the original 1936 beach road course farther south toward Ponce Inlet. The area was growing and more space was needed for the course. France's new beach track opened in 1948. It featured two tracks, one for motorcycles and one for cars. The names of competing drivers
include Lee Petty, Cotton Owens, Curtis Turner, Tim Flock, Sammy Packard, Joe Weatherly, “Banjo” Matthews, Marvin Panch and many more. Plaques commemorating these and other automotive and motorcycle drivers from 1903
through present day can be found at the Boardwalk adjacent to the Main Street Pier at "Speeding Through Time - A Walk through Motor Racing History." Nearby is the Sir Malcolm Campbell Clocktower in Oceanfront Park.
As NASCAR began to grow, other drivers/owners established garages near the Main Street area. Marshall Teague opened a Pure Oil Station at the corner of Fairview Avenue (west side of the Main
Street bridge) at 500 North Ballough Road. One-half mile north of this lies the Armory Building. Made entirely of native coquina rock, this was the original site for the NASCAR inspections. In 1958, Ray Fox, legendary NASCAR mechanic, established his first garage in the Fish
Carburetor building at what is now Marker 32 Restaurant at the west end of the Seabreeze Bridge. Henry
“Smokey” Yunick's “Best Damn Garage In Town” is a quick drive north around Sickler
Drive that hugs the Halifax River. Next to Smokey’s Garage was the Paleface Harbor Restaurant,
now Park’s Seafood Restaurant, where many of the drivers met to eat and enjoy each other’s company.
The Halifax Historical Museum, at 252 South Beach Street in downtown Daytona Beach, was the Florida National Bank in the late 1930’s and the financial center for the local racing industry. Currently,
the Historical Museum is home to vintage photographs, postcards, exhibits and other memorabilia concerning the history of motorsports in this area.
They have a video viewing theater and also feature an extensive array of history books for sale on the subject of racing.
VolusiaHistory.com is a partnership between the
Volusia County Historic Preservation Board
and the Volusia County Government