A 1930s Daytona newspaper trumpeting the Beach Race.On the beaches of Daytona in the 1930s, a weatherbeaten farmer by the name of Marion MacDonald changed the course of automotive history with a length of rope and a pocketknife.
MacDonald, nicknamed "Mad" because he used to eat hamburgers while racing, was one of many drivers who challenged the sands of Daytona, rocketing across both hardpacked and shifting sands. And like all the other drivers of the time, MacDonald raced without a seat belt of any kind. Cars tended to flip with metronome regularity on the sand, and the thinking ran that being thrown from the car was far preferable to being trapped inside it, either underwater or amid burning fuel.
Problem was, without any form of restraint, drivers tended to slew back and forth across the front seat, making an already difficult task — driving across sand — damn near impossible. As Yahoo! Sports own Jay Hart tells it, MacDonald hit upon the idea of belting himself into the car with a rope. And in order to prepare for a quick exit, he taped a pocketknife to the steering wheel to cut himself free.
Still, pocketknives are tricky to open even when you're standing still. How did MacDonald plan on fiddling with a knife while the world collapsed around him?
Why, he kept the blade out, of course.
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