Today, March 10, 2017, kicks off Daytona Beach Bike Week’s 76TH year. That’s a lot of years to keep the biggest motorcycle party in the US going strong. But how much do we really know about the history of the event? When did it first start? What was it like right at the beginning? Today, we’ll be answering those questions, and giving you a detailed history on how Daytona Beach’s Bike Week has evolved over the course of 76 long, amazing years.
Daytona Beach Bike Week was originally not a week of carefully planned out events, but a race, and had its very first inauguration on January 24, 1937 with the first running of the Daytona 200. The first race took place south of Daytona Beach, on a 3.2 mile course, and the first Daytona 200 race winner was Ed Kretz of Monterey Park, CA, with a speed that averaged 73.34 MPH. The event ran as a race from 1937 to 1941, when the Daytona 200 was discontinued (in 1942) due to the rationing that was part of World War II. However, even though the racing event was “officially” cancelled, people still gathered, and the “unofficial” party that is now the Daytona Beach Bike Week that we all know and love had begun.
The Daytona 200 resumed once again in February 1947, and faced change the very next year with a newer, 4.1 mile beach course near Ponce Inlet. That course held the race until 1960, and in 1961, it was adopted by what is now the Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Beach Bike Week has certainly, evolved over the years, as we’ve seen the event become more and more structured. A special task force was organized after Daytona Bike Week 1986, and that led the evolution of it becoming an epic 10 festival that we still enjoy today, all throughout Volusia County.
Check out the very first Daytona winner, Ed Kretz racing in the 1948 Daytona 200 below, and tell us how many of these fact you never knew about the Daytona Beach Bike Week!
Watch more video of the original Daytona 200 here: