Driving up Route 1 North heading to the sold out 75th Daytona 500 NASCAR race, my thoughts drifted to all the good times that we had there. As a teen living in Jacksonville, Florida I frequented the track quite often in the 60s and 70s with my older brother. We were fans of Fireball Roberts, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison (pictured) and others.
My good friend Ron Rice, who owned Hawaiian Tropic always had sponsors like Miller beer and others with RVs with rooftop parties going on in the infield with beautiful Hawaiian Tropic girls.
In the late 80s as a marketing vice president at Paramount Pictures, I worked with the producers on “Days of Thunder” a summer of 1990 release.
Tom Cruise played Cole Trickle, a hotshot racer that becomes a NASCAR driver. After suffering injuries from a wreck at the Firecracker 400, Trickle spends his recovery in Daytona Beach where he falls for Dr Claire Lewicki, played by Nicole Kidman. Robert Duvall stars as the crew chief that steers Trickle into the Daytona 500, which he wins.
Written by the Oscar winner Robert Towne and directed by Tony Scott, the movie would gross $157,920,733 worldwide.
The film was partially shot in Daytona Beach and Daytona International Speedway, which I often visited to see the racing action. They built 60 cars and when the filming ended there were zero left.
Stories of the Hollywood crew ran rampant in Daytona with promises of getting the local girls into the film.
It was crazy! Cruise fell in love with Nicole and they got married 6 months later.
So tomorrow when over 100,000 racing fans gather to get their motors running, I will be hoisting a few beers too.
David Garland FL Daytona Beach Feb 17, 2023 Automobiles Events Then & Now