Daytona Beach, Florida, United States

The so-called World's Most Famous Beach

Harassed Terns
In Marisqueira
Joe's Crab Shack Pontoon
Eat at Joe's
Visual Chaos
Landing of the Gaivinas
Traffic-Free Beach
Strange Architecture
The Pontoon Frame
Sitting fishing
Strange Architecture II
Ritual Fountains
On the Wave
On Hours
If its notoriety comes mainly from NASCAR races, in Daytona Beach, we find a peculiar seaside resort and a vast and compact beach that, in times past, was used for car speed tests.

The day was already long, filled with a variety of different places and episodes that were beginning to drain our energy.

We had started it, it was still dark, following the launch of a Space Kennedy Space Center. As the spacecraft followed its programmed orbit, we traveled northwest, to the other side of Florida.

In the crystal clear waters of Manatee Springs Park, we admire elusive manatees.

It lasts as long as it lasts. We crossed the peninsula again, towards its eastern coast, aimed at Daytona.

On the last stretch of the route, the Halifax stands in the way, another of the rivers that, like a canal, flow parallel to the Atlantic, on the edge of the ocean. A W International Speedway Boulevard becomes a bridge.

Elevate us. And it takes us to the opposite bank, where urbanization continues to reclaim a sandy strip of land.

The long avenue ends. It leaves us with a view of the sea, in a setting that a combination of Man and Nature has rendered artistic.

Daytona Beach: A Beach Like No Other

A green-red sign fitted to an arch announces “Daytona Beach. World's Most Famous Beach”, highlighted against a sky full of clouds soaked in humidity, bluish to match.

The sunset light dyes the sea an opaque emerald green.

In the plane below, sand pushed by the wind forms spots that cover the yellow and white lines added to a tan asphalt.

We make painting photography. Soon, we crossed the portico, even more intrigued as to what Daytona Beach boasters had in store for us.

A few steps over the sand reveal a high tide that the breeze spreads in the form of waves.

To the left, a lifeguard was lounging on an observation tower from which a red flag stood out.

With such a long and shallow sea, the lifeguard tolerated a few incursions that he considered harmless.

Three kids, knee-deep in water, entertained themselves by throwing sand balls at terns perched on amphibious poles.

Daytona Beach's Long Automotive History

To the right, somewhat distant, cars parked, safe from the salt water, were at odds with the scenery up until then.

Not about the deeply automotive history and current affairs of these parts, both reasons why Daytona Beach promotes itself as “the most famous beach in the world”.

Once upon a time, car and speed aficionados realized that the immense, compacted sand to the south and north of the current town was ideal for testing models.

With the tests came the races and a crowd of motorsports fans delighted to be able to watch them, by the sea.

Initially experimental, racing evolved into something institutionalized. A Daytona Beach and Road Course was registered. From its legalization, the renamed NASCAR – National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing emerged, of which Daytona became the headquarters.

The track that ran along the beach, in particular, hosted international car races for more than half a century. The first generated huge financial losses that made the city council and later North American organizers swear that they would not interfere in the events again.

In recent years, drivers and mechanics have broken fifteen land speed records. The first, from 1927, registered 340km/h. The last one, from 1936, reached 461.4 km/h.

From 1936 onwards, the conclusion that Daytona Beach and Road Course It was too narrow for such speeds, causing organizers to move record attempts to the great salt flats of Utah.

From the Beach Track to the NASCAR Circuit

The races in Daytona Beach and Road Course they continued. Until 1959.

That year, the authorities declared them too harmful for the environment and the image of the seaside resort they were trying to promote.

The hotels and bathers themselves occupied previously deserted areas of the beach, meaning that organizing events became a nightmare.

At the same time, NASCAR dreamed of other low flights. Profitable or close to it, it gathered investments in a new circuit in the city, the Daytona International Circuit, since shortly after and until today, famous for NASCAR races.

Only the races that open the season: the 24 Hours of Daytona, in January, followed by the Speedweeks, interspersed with motorbike competitions, bring over 200.000 spectators to the city. Daytona became, yes, world famous. More for the circuit and the races than for the seaside.

Far from, with this judgment, we belittle its bathing value.

The Daytona Beach where cars no longer enter

On the left side of the portico “Daytona Beach. World's Most Famous Beach”, even if there was little summer in the day, the lifeguard remained at his post, in front of a warning Traffic Free Zone which prohibited the passage of motorized vehicles.

To the north, from its high chair, Daytona Beach provided the beach then possible.

During Spring in Florida, the weather becomes tropical. Provides perfect bathing days.

If throughout the year, the area is home to countless North Americans who take refuge from the cold of the North, with the arrival of hot beach days, they are joined by a crowd of students on their first vacation of the year.

Then, from mid-April onwards, and through the long summer season and Caribbean hurricanes, this stretch of Florida, like the Florida Beach It is full of bathers and sun worshipers.

In a Republican and, in some pockets, seriously conservative state, swimwear is controlled.

Women, for example, cannot go topless or wear bikinis that are too revealing. The popular string bikinis can attract fines starting at $500.

At the opposite extreme, the next people we come across enjoying the seafront are Muslims.

An older couple sitting on folding chairs, on the edge of the dry sand.

A woman taking a selfie with her feet in the water and the tiny waves in the background, in full costume, including a hijab.

Joe's Crab Shack and Fisherman's Pier

We watched them from the “Joe's Crab Shack” a typical American seafood restaurant, marked by bright neon lights and located in a bold stilt mansion.

In dimensional terms, Joe's Crab Shack may fall short of the opposite hotels that border the beach.

It is the only establishment that overlooks the Atlantic, equipped with an elevated walkway that serves as a perch for a community of determined fishermen.

We claim a piece of the stronghold where they sit, as far inland as they can get from the sea, taking into account that a barred gate blocks the passage to the true end.

From this windy balcony, we admire Daytona Beach in panoramic format.

The waves unfold, almost in slow motion, further and further away from the sand, the urbanized front and the promenade that runs along its base, in the extension of the historical core of the town.

The Post-Colonial Origins of Daytona Beach

In its genesis at the end of the XNUMXth century, Samuel Williams, a British loyalist, explored a sugar cane and citrus plantation called Orange Grove.

Williams had just returned from the Bahamas when the Spanish administration of the colonial province reopened Florida to foreigners.

After his death, the Williams family began to manage the plantation. Until, in the complicated context of the Spanish-British and United States independence dispute, the plantation was burned and left without a future.

Another thirty-six years passed. Mathias Day Jr., an American recently arrived from Ohio, acquired what was left of Orange Grove. and hurried to build the first hotel in the town.

The fate and financial difficulties dictated that he would lose the hotel and the land.

Still, the neighbors decided to honor their pioneering spirit. They named the future city of Daytona.

But let's go back to the days we spent there and to the pier. Angry screams from fishermen distract us from contemplation.

“Get out of there, idiot! You also have waves up front!”

Unfortunately for him, the rare surfable waves broke right next to the pier, in the exact area where the hooks would be.

Unaware or a little worried, a surfer remained there, catching a large part of a break that almost only served to propel him towards the coast.

Shortly afterwards, the culmination of sunset lit up the sky above the skyline restrained from Daytona Beach.

The neons of “Joe's Crab Shack” achieved undisputed prominence.

Still an hour and a half away from Saint Augustine and Florida Historical Coast, we set off.



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Winter White
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Correspondence verification
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Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
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