About a month from now they will be running the Daytona 200 motorcycle races over there in Florida. I first visited in 1994 courtesy of the Hoover Electric Appliance Company. They had come up with this marvellous sales ploy that if you bought a vaccum cleaner or washing machine you were entitled to a return trip to Florida.
Well – they were inundated with claims for cheap flights. So much so that they bought there own passenger jet. I can’t remember the details but around the time they were clearing the backlog of flights I bought a return trip to Orlando with them for £150 which included seven days car hire. I managed to get dates at the last minute which would allow me to see the annual Daytona 200 race meeting early in March and off I went.
A ten hour flight from UK saw me land in the late afternoon at Orlando where I picked up my hire car and set off — in completely the wrong direction! I found a down-at-the-heel roadside motel in Kissimmee where a tiny black guy sat on a stool out in the dirt assured me I would be quite safe in his place. I had my doubts – especially when I saw that there was no lock on the door of my motel room and around that time there had been several Brit visitors mugged – robbed and even killed in Florida.
No worries – I wedged a chair back under the door knob and turned in for the night. It was a pretty disturbed night with pickup trucks roaring in and out of the parking lot at all hours and much arguing between couples in the adjoining rooms. I guess they were short time relationships and money was involved.
I was pleased to wake up in the morning and was soon on my way to Daytona. I had been well warned about the shortage of hotel rooms in Daytona – the norm being that unless you have pre-booked it is best to start looking for a place to stay while still about thirty miles from town. That’s what they say but as usual I did it my way and drove all the way into town and down to the beach where I was lucky enough to rent the only available shack for six days at little cost —
It turned out that a famous Canadian WWE wrestler had booked the shack for the week but would only be using it for the Saturday night – a result!
There I was right on Daytona beach with my camera —
and if you have a camera on daytona Beach the girls are just born to pose —
The girl perched on my dentist friend’s old Ducati had been Miss Tallahassie Lassee ’87 or something similar –
but the old girl in the sidecar wasn’t quite so friendly and almost snapped my hand off when I touched her bike!
the week passed by in a blurr with plenty of this —
and plenty of that —
What about the racing? Well nobody seemed much bothered. It took place on the Saturday by which time most of the Yanks had gone home. A bunch of dentists – doctors and patch wearing dudes invited me to share their hotel room and one guy even insisted on sleeping on the floor while I had his bed. Lovely people.
Oh – the racing – yes —- one of the Duhammels was riding a Harley which ensured that some of the Americans went to the Raceway and cheered every time he passed. I don’t think they cheered themselves hoarse cos it was typical Harley and broke down early in the procceeedings.
For me the star of the show was Troy Corser in his first race out of Oz. He had won the Australian title the previous year and was heading for an international carreer. Watching him riding a Ducati on the far banking was an eye-opener – he was just so fast!
I managed a trip to the Space Centre at Carnaveral on my way back to the airport and that was about it. But —the bug had well and truly bit and the following year my own Ducati was entered in the Daytona 200 where it was ridden by a young Brit who went on to become a two-time World Champion on Ducati works machinery – none other than our very own Neil Hodgson!