Would you believe us if we told you that NASCAR was once involved in land speed racing? It’s true! In fact, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) was the sanctioning body for the Daytona Beach Measured Mile for several years. Daytona beach had been the location for several land speed records starting back in 1927. Anyone who has walked on the beach at Daytona can see how smooth and flat the area is, but it is nothing remotely like a paved surface. It could also be dangerous as hell.
Today land speed trials are held at remote locations with lots of runoff room and plenty of space if things go wrong. Not at Daytona! If you didn’t keep a sharp eye on the course while making a run there was the very real danger of running through the water. When that happens, things go wrong:
Just as bad, the inland side of the course was usually lined with spectators and other cars. Back in 1928 Frank Lockhart almost took out a crowd with his Stutz Black Hawk Special, narrowly missing a photographer. Unfortunately Frank was thrown from the car and later died. Yes, the Daytona Beach course was far cry from the steel cable reinforced mesh steel fences and foam walls of today.
The last Daytona Beach Measured Mile event was held in 1961. By then most of the focus for land speed racing had shifted to Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. Today you can still drive on Daytona Beach but at a much more sedate 10 mph. Even at a slower pace we recommend doing it once in your life. If you listen closely, you may even hear the sound of open headers mixed with the waves.