Daytona Beach Bike Week

Daytona Beach Bike Week, one of the largest recurring motorcycle events, starts this Friday (March 4) and continues on through March 13. T...

Daytona Beach Bike Week, one of the largest recurring motorcycle events, starts this Friday (March 4) and continues on through March 13.

The Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce has published a mini-website about the event, including a history of how it all got started, and how it came to be what it is today. It started as a motorcycle race on the beach, back in 1937. Riders would race along a 3.2 mile course along the sand:
The first race took place on a 3.2 mile beach and road course, located south of Daytona Beach. Ed Kretz of Monterey Park, CA was its first winner, riding an American made Indian motorcycle and averaging 73.34 mph. Kretz also won the inaugural City of Daytona Beach trophy.

The 1937, race course ran approximately one and a half miles north on the beach; through a 1/4 mile turn where the sand was banked, and then onto the paved, public roadway portion for the trip south. Coming back on the final turn, another high sand bank awaited riders as they raced on the hard sands of the beach. Interestingly enough, starting times for these events were dictated by the local tide tables. The races continued from 1937 to 1941. In the early years the Daytona 200 was also called the "Handlebar Derby" by local racing scribes.
The American Motorcycle Association, which had been sanctioning the event, cancelled the races during World War II out of respect for fuel rationing. But after the war, the races continued, although things were not quite the same as they were before:
Some time after the war, the event began to take on a rugged edge. While the motorcycle races on the beach were organized, events surrounding the race were not. As time passed, locals became afraid of the visitors and law enforcement officers and city officials were less than enthusiastic about what some termed an "invasion". Relations between the Bikers and law enforcement officials continued to worsen. When things appeared to be at their worst (after the 1986 event), a special task force was organized by the city in cooperation with the local chamber of commerce to improve relations and change the magnitude and scope of the event.
In 1961, they stopped racing on the beach, and moved the competition to the Daytona International Speedway. Today, the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce now organizes the event, which has grown to one of the biggest biker events of the year.

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