PONCE INLET, Fla — For the 11th time, on Saturday, February 12, 2022, the Historic North Turn Legends Beach/Road Course Parade will lead the calendar of events for the Daytona Speedweeks and drivers and fans will be arriving with anticipation of driving and witnessing cars on the racing course that was used through 1958 as a place for speed trials and racing.
|Cars being staged on the beach at sunrise – Photo by Steve Leavitt||Bill Allen drove this 1955 Chrysler from Alamogordo, New Mexico to Participate – Don Bok Photo||Former NASCAR Cup driver drives the 1957 Thunderbird Pace Car – Don Bok Photo||Former NASCAR Cup drivers Charlie Roberts, Johnny Allen, and Dink Widenhouse along with engine builder and drag racer Bill Blair II. Allen and Widenhouse competed on the beach in the ‘50’s while Blair’s father, Bill Blair, won the Stock Car event on the beach in 1953|
The town of Ponce Inlet and Volusia County along with the Racing’s North Turn put this event together in February, 2013 and it was a tremendous success, drawing vintage race cars and drivers from 11 states and drew thousands of spectators who were able to meet and greet everyone involved plus witnessing the cars as they rolled south on Atlantic Avenue for two miles before making a left turn onto the beach and headed north for another two miles before making another left turn and parking in the Racing’s North Turn Restaurant parking lot where the drivers were greeted by a throng of exciting fans who looked over their cars with fine tooth combs.
Businessman Bobby Williamson from Shallote, N. C. joined four of his buddies from the Myrtle Beach, S. C. area who caravanned 500 miles south to make a lap on the historic race course. As Williamson climbed from his race car, his glasses were covered and pitted from the exhaust from his car blowing the ocean sand into his face, but he said, “Just being able to drive on the same ground that the pioneers of the sport competed on was well worth the time and expense from coming down here. I’m still shaking from the experience, and I can’t wait for the next one.”
Racing historian Greg Fielden, who has written several books on racing and has worked with all of the major TV networks, was another person who was overcome from the excitement of participating in the event. “I’ll tell you right now, I shed some tears as we made the turn and headed up the beach just like the people I have written about.” He added, “This is an experience I will never forget.”
It is now 11 years later, and the parade is still the same 4.1 miles in distance with the same types of cars making the journey from as far west as New Mexico and as far north as the state of Maine, but a few things have changed. This parade has become the premiere event for legends car owners and the crowds have increased from around 1,000 in 2013 to 30,000 in 2020. Last year, the crowd was estimated at 6,800 due to the Covid outbreak. At this time, 63 cars and drivers have registered, and this number is expected to grow. Three of the participants, Brownie King, Dink Widenhouse and Johnny Allen, competed on the beach in the 1950’s.
The cars will be staged on the beach, just south of the Racing’s North Turn Restaurant, starting at 7:30a.m. and the parade will follow at 12 noon, depending on the tide. The cars will begin the parade on the beach and will proceed up the ramp and will make a left turn south onto S. Atlantic Ave. for two miles and will make another left turn onto the beach where they will travel north until they reach the starting point, make a brief stop for a photo shoot and then proceed back up the ramp and will end up in the North Turn Restaurant parking lot, where the cars will be parked for more viewing.
Many of the drivers will then go across the street to the restaurant where several drivers, car owners and racing officials will sign autographs. In addition, former Dale Earnhardt pit crew member Danny “Chocolate” Myers and his wife, Caron, will interview many of the drivers.
Spectator parking will be at the Toronita Avenue Beach Park, 4200 Atlantic Ave., in Wilbur by the Sea and buses will shuttle passengers as far as Jerry’s Italian Grill with stops along the way from 8a.m. until 4p.m. There is no admission charge for the parade and no charge for the shuttle service.