Skirt on the Scene! 2010 Daytona 500

There’s something about having the biggest race of the year right at the start of the season. We’ve all been waiting through the long winter months for the cars to return to the track. We’ve all made it through the holidays and the celebrations of the New Year. And then, we start counting down the days. Speedweeks start up and we are renewed. Some of the teams and drivers have shuffled, the engine packages change and the Shootout and the Duel bring us on home. But really, it is the Daytona 500 that breathes life back into the season. After the confusing and exciting qualifying process is over, all around the world race fans wait for the drop of that green flag on the most important race of the year.

How many of us have had to explain what it means to have the first race mean the very most for the whole season? It sets the stage, it welcomes us back and it gets us all fired up for the season.

This will be my third year heading on down to chilly (yes, it really is chilly here in February)Florida. As a racing historian, there was no way that I could miss the 50th running of the Daytona 500. It was the perfect excuse and I have gone every year since. I have been going to races for almost ten years now and I’ll tell you, there is nothing, nothing like walking up through the stands and taking in the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway. It is breathtaking. I am a fan of short track racing, but the spectacle that is Daytona is beyond compare.

Big Bill France built the track in 1959 for several reasons. He wanted to out Indy Indy, he wanted a track that would challenge the success of the oddly shaped Lady in Black at Darlington, SC., and he wanted to bring the center of racing back to Daytona, even if the beach had become the playground of the wealthy rather than speed stage of the fearless. I think that we can agree that he succeeded.

The first Daytona 500 had thirty-three lead changes and ended with a hotly disputed win; Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp finished within tenths of a second to each other. Beauchamp was the called winner but Petty drove himself to Victory Lane and declared that he had won. The finish line photos were studied, tempers flared, and regardless of who crossed that checkered line first, Lee Petty was declared the winner of the first Daytona 500.

Who will whip the rest of the field this year? Will the rule changes and larger restrictor plates have a huge impact on the race? I don’t know. But I do know that from the moment when we all rise as one for the Invocation to the last screaming second across the Line, the Daytona 500 is a race unlike any other. I’ll be in Turn One this year. Keep an eye out for me.

Skirt on the Scene! 2010 Daytona 500 Skirt on the Scene! 2010 Daytona 500 Reviewed by The Track Girl on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 Rating: 5