Ponce Inlet, Fla. (PRWEB) November 29, 2007
Andrew Howe, president of Florida real estate development company Cranewoods Development recently helped Ponce Inlet commemorate NASCAR’s untamed beach-racing era of the 1940s and its pioneering drivers when the town unveiled a historic marker at the site of the famed beach course South Turn. Drivers started their harrowing drive up Ponce Inlet beach from this spot, with the Atlantic Ocean as the right boundary and the dunes of Ponce Inlet as the left.
Long before the days of restrictor plates and roof flaps, beach racing here was the scene of spectacular crashes, with hoods flying open mid-race and drivers blinded by salt spray and sand. The course was the scene of some of racing’s greatest images and wildest rides until the opening of The Daytona International Speedway in 1958. More than 50 years later, the South Turn is the more peaceful home to a luxury Florida oceanfront home development, which is under construction and overlooks the historic turn. Several legendary veterans of the course attended the ceremony, recounting hazards of beach racing, spectacular crashes, dodging seagulls and the colorful drivers who wrote the first chapters of NASCAR history.
Automobile racing was sanctioned here by NASCAR in 1948, the same year the stock car association itself was formed. For the next decade, both car and motorcycle racing was held on the 4.1 mile course, where drivers completed one lap by traveling north on the hard-packed sand beach, turning left through the banked sand North Turn, then driving south on paved Atlantic Avenue to the banked sand South Turn. Although the original races were typically advertised as taking place in Daytona Beach, the course was actually in Ponce Park, which was incorporated as the Town of Ponce Inlet in 1960. The current-day, pristine setting has earned it a spot in the 2007 America’s Top Ten Best Beaches rankings.
Assisted by Town Manager Kassandra Blissett, Ponce Inlet Mayor Nancy Epps presided over the unveiling on November 20 along with Russ Truelove, a Ponce Inlet beach racing veteran. Other legendary drivers of the famed beach course also were in attendance, including Vicki Wood and “Mad” Marion MacDonald. Wood set records on the course between 1955 and 1960, and her name remains in NASCAR speed record books today.
Of those earliest days of NASCAR, MacDonald said, “It used to be wild out here at this turn. You would just pick a spot up the road and lock up all four wheels, hoping it would slow you down enough to make it. In one race, Smokey Percer was waving me back as we approached, got distracted and wound up in the palmettos.” Truelove, who still has the 1956 Mercury he drove in one of the more memorable beach races in which he flipped the car several times on the North Turn, said, “I can assure you that all those pioneers, both living and those who have left us, deeply appreciate what the people of Ponce Inlet have done to recognize where it all began.”
The gathering of more than 50 people at the unveiling ceremony included Jo Anne Hamilton, sister of beach course racer Ray Chaike; town council members; members of the town’s Historic Board and Park Board; and other town dignitaries and public safety officials.
Attendees also included Andrew Howe of Cranewoods Development, developer of The Cottages at Ponce Inlet at the site. Howe noted that racing is not the only draw to the area: “The historic significance and unspoiled beauty of this site cannot be overstated. Not only is it an important part of the birthplace of NASCAR racing, Beach Street itself is a designated Scenic Road and the intersection is virtually in the shadow of the historic Ponce Inlet lighthouse.” He added that, “for fans who want to live where NASCAR history was made, Ponce Inlet puts them at the epicenter of auto racing, with Daytona Beach just 20 minutes to the north, and Orlando an hour away.”
About Cranewoods Development:
Andrew Howe, president of Cranewoods Development, is an award winning developer, general contractor and real estate consultant with over 35 years experience. Cranewoods offers full service real estate consulting to lenders and investors. Services include: development consulting, bank loan workout solutions, court appointed receiver, turn-key development management, construction management and general project problem solving. To explore Cranewoods further, visit: http://cranewoods.com or follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CranewoodsDevelopment
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