About Daytona Beach
Water makes up almost ten percent of the total area of Daytona Beach. The Halifax River lagoon (a section of the Intracoastal Waterway) splits the city in half, with one side bordering the Atlantic Ocean. To the north lies Holly Hill and Ormond Beach, and to the south you will find the cities of Daytona Beach Shores, South Daytona and Port Orange. Daytona Beach has a humid subtropical climate and the peak of summer is hot and humid with highs usually in the 90s and a heat index often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit! Thunderstorms are common during these months and summery beach weather can last right through the fall months. Winters are mild and there are rarely freezes or frosts, and snow is unheard of. Springtime is beautiful in Daytona with beaches beginning to fill with people as early as March.
Daytona Beach is historically known for its wide beach with hard packed sand allowing vehicles to easily drive on it. This hard packed sand helped make Daytona Beach an icon for auto racing with the old 23 mile, “Daytona Beach Road Course”, (now, the present-day Town of Ponce Inlet). Daytona Beach attracts millions annually for various events, including the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race in January, and most notably, “Speed Weeks” in early February when over 250,000 NASCAR fans come to attend the season opening Daytona 500. Other events include hosting Bike Week in early March, Spring Break in early April, NASCAR’s Coke Zero 400 race in July, and Biketoberfest in late October.
History of Daytona Beach
It all began in 1871 when Mathias Day, Jr. from Mansfield, Ohio, purchased a 2.144 acre tract of the former William’s Plantation on the west bank of a channel known as the Halifax River, and built a hotel in the center of what is today referred to as the “Daytona Beach Historic District”. Unfortunately, He lost title to his land in 1872, due to financial difficulties. In 1876, the few residents of the small town agreed, the city would be named in honor of its founder,(Day), and Daytona Beach was born .It was incorporated in 1876.
In 1886, the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway arrived in Daytona. The line would be purchased in 1889 by Henry M. Flagler, who made it part of his Florida East Coast Railway. The separate towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach, Kingston, and Seabreeze merged as “Daytona Beach” in 1926, at the urging of civic leader J.B. Kahn and others. By the 1920s, it became known as “The World’s Most Famous Beach”.
Automobile and motorcycle races began in 1902 with a variety of early auto engineers testing their new machines. Daytona hosted numerous land speed record attempts beginning in 1904, when William K. Vanderbilt set an unofficial record of 92.307 mph. Land speed racers from Barney Oldfield to Henry Seagrave to Malcolm Campbell would race repeatedly and made the beach course famous. Record attempts were often made, and on March 7, 1935, Campbell set the record at 276.816 and marked the end of Daytona’s land speed racing days.
The first stock car race was held on March 8, 1936 on the Daytona Beach Road Course which hosted races for over 50 years before being replaced by the Daytona International Speedway in 1958. William France Sr. along with NASCAR developed the track, and is now the headquarters for NASCAR and the Grand American Road Racing Association. Automobiles are still permitted on most areas of the beach, but safely at a maximum speed of 10 MPH.
Daytona Beach has a humid subtropical climate, typical of the southeastern United States. Summers are hot and humid with highs usually in the 90s and a heat index often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Thunderstorms are frequent on summer afternoons and the hot, humid weather can last right through the fall months. Winters are usually dry and mild, but can be peppered with series of cold fronts dropping temperatures into the 30s (F), but only occurring occasionally. The year round average temperature, (tracked between 1981-2010), was recorded at 70.44F, having an average high of 80.35F and average low of 61.53. Many visitors have found this climate to be ideal and decide to make Daytona Beach their home, or choose to attend one of its many Colleges or Universities including Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, considered by many to be the premiere Flight School in the World.