The Ormond-Daytona beach races attracted national and even international attention because of the unique and ideal racing surface, the reprieve of warm winters, and the promise of fast times.
The Florida beaches at Ormond and Daytona are composed of coquina clam-shell sand, which results in particles that are smooth but not fit for holding together. The particles create a surface almost as hard as asphalt or concrete. However, there is no mud or dust.
It was impossible for man to create a racing surface that was as good for racing. Man made roads could not be made as hard or smooth. In addition, the maintenance required by roads was also not an issue for the beach surface, as the tides rebuilt the racing surface daily. While roads could be narrow, the beach created a naturally wide racing surface – 300-500 feet wide at low tide. The surface also created long straightaways – a 20 mile straightaway.
Beach racing offered additional safety over racing on the still developing network of roads.
On Ormond-Daytona Beach the tire trouble that plagued road races was non-existent. Racing on roads not only caused the tires to wear, but the speed created heat within the tires that could cause the tires to explode. The beach surface was naturally cooled and didn’t heat the tires to the point of explosion.
Beach racing did offer one big challenge not confronted by today’s paved racing surfaces - your race schedule was based around tide. You could race on the beaches from about 2 hours before high tide and then restart about 2 hours after high tide.