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NASCAR history awaits

Forty-three brightly colored stock cars will barrel through the high banks of Daytona International Speedway at nearly 200 mph in Saturday's Pepsi 400.

Racing has come a long way.

This year marks the Centennial of Speed, the 100th anniversary of the first automobile time trial at nearby Ormond Beach in 1903. From that first sprint on the sand to the founding of NASCAR, the Daytona Beach area is rich in racing history.

With the events at Daytona today and Saturday taking place at night, fans might want to visit a few places where racing history was made.

1. Ormond Beach, the Birthplace of Speed

On March 26, 1903, the hard-packed sand of Ormond Beach was perfect for the first time trials. Today visitors can drive the same stretch of beach _ the original Measured Mile _ on which Alexander Winton set the first record of 68.198 mph in his "Bullet" car.

From E Grenada Boulevard, cross Atlantic Boulevard and go straight onto the sand. Winton, no doubt, would be disappointed with today's 10-mph speed limit.

Also in Ormond Beach is a brick building located at 48 W Grenada Blvd. Bearing the name Ormond Garage, the building was built in 1919 for racers to repair cars.

The original Ormond Garage _ racing's first "Gasoline Alley" _ was at 113 E Grenada Blvd., but management did not want repairs done there. The original burned in 1976, but the site, now occupied by a branch of SunTrust Bank, is marked by a plaque.

2. Bill France Sr.'s Amoco Garage

William H.G. France, who founded NASCAR, owned and operated a filling station at 316 Main St. in the 1930s. France was among the spectators when Sir Malcolm Campbell attempted to break the 300-mph barrier on the sands of Daytona Beach, averaging 276.82 in a Bluebird. France's station, complete with two bays and three vintage pumps, houses the Main Street Station pub.

3. The Streamline Hotel

By the late 1940s France, a promoter, decided stock-car racing needed a sanctioning body. France and 19 others met at the Streamline Hotel at 140 S Atlantic Ave. in December 1947, and the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing was born.

The Streamline remains a functioning hotel and is going through renovations under new ownership. Though it has seen better days _ let's hope it was not faded teal and pink in '47 _ the site of that landmark meeting is too significant to pass up.

4. Daytona Beach Shores/Ponce Inlet

From its origins at Ormond Beach, racing moved steadily south along the sand to Daytona Beach Shores, where Campbell made history by setting five land speed records on an 11-mile stretch.

It is worth stopping at Otto Schulzte Memorial Park on S Atlantic Blvd (next to Bank of America) to see the granite stone with an image of Campbell's Bluebird. Just south of the park at 3140 S Atlantic Blvd. is the drive-in church that served as an early NASCAR inspection site.

Further south Ponce Inlet is the site of the 4.1-mile beach and road course that was NASCAR's home from 1948-58, before Daytona International Speedway was built. The course went from the beach to the asphalt to complete its loop, with the famous North Turn located at roughly 4500 S Atlantic Blvd.

Today it's a 20-minute drive from the old beach and road course to the 2.5-mile superspeedway where the Pepsi 400 takes place. But it seems much longer.

_ Information from the ISC Archives and Motor Racing Heritage Association was used in this report.

A race through history

The Daytona Beach area is celebrating the Centennial of Speed, marking 100 years of racing beginning on the hard-packed beaches. Here is a quick look at some of the highlights:

1. Ormond Beach: Billed as the "Birthplace of Speed," racing in the area has been traced to the original "Measured Mile" laid out in 1903.

2. Bill France Garage: The NASCAR founder and father of the current chairman opened a garage at 316 Main Street, which was the family business until a multimillion-dollar racing venture paid off.

3. Streamline Hotel: This is where France and several others deciding stock car racing needed a sanctioning body and founded NASCAR. It's now a Youth hostel at 140 S Atlantic Ave.

4. Daytona Beach Shores: Site of many of the early races, the area has monuments and a Drive-In Church that served as the registration point for NASCAR races at the beach.