Daytona Beach, Florida
— June 2001
|The home of American stock car racing and the world's greatest beach, it's also a haven for boaters.|
Matthias Day, Jr. was a man with a vision. In the 2,144 acres bordering the Halifax River in Volusia County, Florida, that he had purchased in 1871, the newspaper publisher and inventor from Mansfield, Ohio, saw the opportunity to fulfill his dream of being a landowner. Perhaps he would develop the real estate and start his own community. Maybe he'd call it Day Town or, on an even grander scale, Day City.
But by 1872 Day had fallen seriously behind in his mortgage payments and was forced to accept foreclosure. However, many of the residents who had built homes on land they had purchased from him decided to incorporate their community. In 1876 their city was officially chartered as Daytona, in honor of the well-intended if unfortunate entrepreneur.
Century's end saw a bridge being built across the Halifax River at the same time Henry Flagler began running his railroad right past the growing community. Soon after, hotels, inns, and boarding houses began springing up all over the area, thrusting Daytona into the national spotlight as a sun-drenched resort with some 23 miles of beautiful hard-packed beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean. Then in the early 1900s, two cars racing across those sands at the record-setting pace of 57 mph set the stage for one of the most spectacular and exciting events in sports: The Daytona 500. Stock car racing continued on the beach until 1953 when veteran driver Bill France took the cars inland and on February 22, 1959 opened the Daytona Speedway.
Today the cars that roar by at speeds exceeding 200 mph still provide Daytona with excitement, but there's another Daytona still defined by the beach, with a touch of old Florida that keeps boaters coming back year after year. If you haven't already done so, make this city a stop on your next ICW cruise.
TO GET THERE
• With more than 500 slips, 40 of which are transient, Halifax Harbor (904) 253-0575 is the area's largest marina. It can accommodate vessels to 130 feet.
• The Daytona Boat Works (904) 252-6421 has a 55-ton TraveLift and does engine and electrical service plus prop repair. Boats up to 200 feet can be accommodated, and 20 transient slips are offered.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.