Getting There

The races at Ormond-Daytona didn’t just attract a local crowd. The winter visitors from the Northeast, escaping the snow and cold to enjoy the sunny Florida coast were key to the races’ success. Auto clubs and auto enthusiasts from across the country and from Europe made the annual trip in the early 1900s.

 

As the USA’s car craze was in its infancy, those traveling to the races at Daytona generally relied on rail travel. However, the reliance on rail travel meant the race schedule was dependent on the rail schedules. For example, in 1904, the start of the racing was delayed by a day to allow the Seaboard Air Line, coming from  and other steamer excursions to arrive.

 

Automobile companies and local automobile clubs, from cities such as New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, wanting to see their cars and their competitors compete would reserve travel aboard. For example, in 1906 the Minneapolis Automobile Club organized a train trip for their local racing enthusiasts offering road trip travel to Daytona-Ormond aboard a train with sleeping and dining cars for a price of $86.

 

Ready to test the limits of their new automobiles, traveling to the races by car was a topic of intrigue leading up to the 1907 races. The Automobile Magazine mapped out a route from New York to Florida in a November issue, with the directions reprinted in newspapers. The magazine reported that there were no known instances of someone driving the full 1540 mile route to Daytona. The route took you through big cities like Philadelphia and along historic sites, such as Antietam and Harpers Ferry and through railroad towns like Roanoke, VA onward to the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and Tennessee. However the real adventure began when you reached Georgia. “The conditions of the roads (and trails) after leaving Macon would probably be a serious problem, and road mending tools might come in hand quite often.”

 

Once the driver reached the Ormond-Daytona area the travel was much easier. The races were important for the Ormond-Daytona area economy and contributed to the local road building efforts.

 

Four men successfully made the trip in an Oldsmobile they named Mud-Lark. The trip took 17 days, and the men were greeted as heroes at Daytona-Ormond where they relayed the stories of their journey.