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Published on Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Daytona, the capital of US motor sport






In a nutshell:
A traditional seaside resort which is the capital of USA Motor racing. Daytona and most specifically its beach has been associated with car racing and land speed records since the late 1920's when Sir Henry Segrave became the first person to travel at over 200mph in his Sunbeam. The sand has certain qualities that provide a firm, smooth surface that is conducive to motor sport. Motor sport and the beginning of what is known today as NASCAR raced on the sand until 1958, when it transferred to the International Speedway venue.



Why your clients should go:
If you want a lively destination, a superb beach and lots to do, Daytona could be the place for you. Should your client be a petrolhead then so much the better. There is never a dull moment in Daytona with speed, motors, racing and party all combined. Access is relatively simple with Orlando's international airport just over an hour's drive away.



What to see and what to do:
Start at Daytona International Speedway, home to world famous Daytona 500 and the Nascar season opening race held in February each year. The stadium is big and attracts in excess of 150,000 people. A full tour allows you access to the museum whereby you can view winning cars from the past, listen to the drivers, look at the equipment and study the history. The site even has Sir Malcom Campbell's Bluebird that set a record of 272 miles per hour on 22 February 1933 on the beach a few miles from the stadium. Best of all, the full tour takes you on a drive around the track and it's only then that you realise the severity of the banking at each end. Once complete, you naturally go to victory lane where you star as the winner and can recreate the ceremony on the podium in front of adoring fans.



Eat and Drink:
There are a lot of restaurants down the strip that serve what I would term typical American food consisting of steaks, chicken, burgers and the like. This is perfect especially if you are here with a family. For breakfast, it's worth making the 20-minute drive to the Sugar Mill Restaurant and Bakery in De Leon Springs Sate park. Set in a large wooden cabin next to a fishing lake, the venue allows you to cook your own pancakes on a hot plate directly in front on the dining table.



Where to stay:
I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel .The reception area is very impressive and one that would be very familiar to you if you have ever eaten in one of their restaurants. The chilled-out staff add to the rock and roll welcome and as part of the check in process ask what default music you would like to have playing in your room. I asked for soul but was informed that this was not one of the options; Easy Listening it was. Imagine then my surprise to find I was staying in the Aretha Franklin room. Next door to me was the Ozzy Osbourne room and across the corridor Gene Pitney.



Bedrooms are more than ample in size with everything you would expect of a new hotel, plus what little food I had was excellent. The hotel has live music every night and is situated right on the beach.



Don't miss:
Make a visit to the Stetson Mansion which is a 25-minute drive away from Daytona. Built as the hat-maker's winter retreat in the mid 1880's, it stood alone as a luxury purpose-built retreat in this area. Such was the importance and wealth of the family it has a number of unique features and was afforded the luxury of a private rail line to deliver both guests and artefacts. It was one of the first houses to have electricity which was installed by Edison. The big treat however is to go there between November and the end of January when the current owners, who have completely restored the property into a living museum, display their Christmas decorations. To say they are spectacular would be a gross understatement, which is hardly surprising given that they take over two months to create. Each room has a distinct theme and colour scheme, but will make your paper chains back home look rather feeble.


Grahams car was provided by Dollar. Car hire in the USA with Dollar starts from £33.12 per day, based on travel in August 2019. His trip was part of the Florida Huddle conference organised by www.visitflorida.com


 

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