February 13, 2010
Take a look at that little dive hotel there. Doesn't appear much, does it? And yet, were it not for what happened in the rooftop lounge at that hotel, you wouldn't be reading this and we wouldn't be gearing up for the biggest race of the year. That's the spot where, on Dec. 14, 1947, Bill France convened a coalition of racing enthusiasts to form a racing alliance that they would name NASCAR.
Many fine books, including "Driving With The Devil" and "He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back," tell the story of what happened on that rooftop, but here's the short version: France gathered a cross-section of racing personnel, including drivers, mechanics, promoters and other interested parties from all along the East Coast. Over the course of three days, they settled on a name -- National Stock Car Racing Association, or NSCRA. But as it turned out, an organization in Georgia already had that name, so they went with their second choice. (That would be NASCAR.)
These days, the Streamline is once again an operating hotel, having done stints as a retirement home and a youth hostel. And it's also catering to a slightly different clientele -- gay men -- than the traditional NASCAR demographic, which no doubt leads to some interesting moments when race fans stay at the hotel during Daytona week. As you can see in the photos below, the motif is the traditional patchwork tropical-nautical-pirate-Tiki style that's characteristic of old hotels on every beach in the country.
NASCAR's first offices were located about three blocks away from the Streamline at the Selden Bank Building. As you can see, it's also changed just a wee bit:
All of this is just blocks away from the famed Daytona Beach sands, as hard and flat as asphalt. It's here that NASCAR started, and it's here that NASCAR returns every year. Because after all, you have to love it when your beach has a speed limit:
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