South-Central Florida has a flavor all its own. Daytona Beach’s is both sweet and savory. It has a quality of solidity and spirit, one of, “Don’t mess with me.” We like it here. However, no one moves to Daytona without encountering a few oddities that require the mustering of courage. These are the types of things you don’t know about until after you make the move. There are some considerations here that only the most daring should undertake.
The mere mention of the name, “Daytona Beach,” usually conjures up mental images of race cars speeding around our world-famous racetracks. While it is loads of fun to sit in the stands and watch the NASCAR racers flash by, it is quite another thing to sit in the passenger seat and watch the world speed by on the other side of the window. Some of the drivers and car owners not only allow folks to ride along as they race around the Daytona International Speedway and other famous race tracks, they also allow people to get behind the wheel and have a go at driving one. World famous driver, Richard Petty offers this privilege for a price, but do you dare? Mind you, these stock cars don’t even have doors. You have to be able to wedge yourself in a 15″ x 30″ wide window that is 36″ off the ground.
The second part of this dare is to take along a bag of peanuts in the shell. There is a legend in Daytona Beach that has been circulating since the 1930’s when two race car drivers went to their graves in fiery car crashes. According to the legend, peanut shells were found in both cockpits of the wrecked cars. Much later, when the cars were in the local scrap yards, peanut shells were found embedded in their grills. This legend is so strongly embedded in the local Daytona race culture belief system that, according to Snopes, many of the drivers won’t allow peanuts in the racing pits!
We have an old art deco building on Beach Street that has been around since 1932. Back in the day, it was a H.S. Kress & Co. Department Store. Some say it is haunted, that the ghost of the architect who built it, Mr. Sibbert, walks the halls at night. One woman, undaunted by the frightening stories surrounding it uses the Kress Building as the perfect venue to conduct her business of contacting the afterlife. That’s right. Cassandra Blizzard is locally reputed as being able to sense, hear and see the spirits of people who have passed on to the next world. If you would like to connect with Mr. Sibbert, (or scary old Aunt Gladys to ask why she left you out of her will), visit our most famous local psychic medium who acts as a bridge between this world and the hereafter. I wouldn’t advise going alone at night, though.
We have some of the best surfing in the world here in Daytona Beach. The major swells come in like clockwork, making surfing above the soft, sandy bottom a surfer’s dream. However, before you wax up that board, be aware that the Atlantic waters off the coast here are infused with Blacktip, Spinner, Bull and Hammerhead sharks. There are millions of them. In December of 1992, an 800-pound Mako shark was caught near our coast. The good news is that incidents of shark bites are down. Ironically, some people contribute this, in part, to state of the economy. It stands to reason that fewer people are vacationing at the beach because of the lack of funds. However, does the lack of people out there surfing mean that the sharks are even hungrier? Why not jump in the water and find out…. if you dare.