DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A VIP tour takes guests back in time to when car racing first began on the sandy beaches of Daytona Beach.
Much of what was racing then is thanks to Bill France Sr.
"Bill France Sr. moved here to Daytona beach in 1934. (In) 1936, they started having beach stock car racing here. He was a racer at the time, and then he got involved with the city in promoting the races," Herb Branham, Director for the International Speedway Corporation Archive and Research Center said. "Almost immediately in the outset, the collection of memorabilia started."
The collection includes countless items about the history of NASCAR and an office created to look exactly like it did when France Sr. spent his days working at the Speedway in the '60s and '70s. All of the items are the same ones from his original office, except for the phone on the desk, which came from his home.
"When you come here, you're seeing the real stuff. These are artifacts, memorabilia, trophies, photos that date back to 1900s," Branham said. "The most famous of the cars that raced on the beach are the bluebird cars."
Other items inside the ISC Archive and Research Center include a pair of Dave Marcis' shoes, which were used to dapper up his driving suit.
"He would slap asbestos on the right shoe ... for the accelerator and the heat. That's what Dave Marcis used for racing shoes. Wing tips," Branham said.
The shoes are on display inside the facility's library.
"It's kind of funny when our guests come in, I tell them this is not a public library. You do not have to whisper. Low and behold, when people walk in here they start whispering, but I say, 'Please, go in here and have fun,'" Branham said.
There's also a large vault that contains more than 4 million negatives, many of which date back to the early part of the 20th century. The VIP tour gives guests an opportunity to fan out and explore every corner of the facility. One of those corners is dedicated to the Earnhardt family and contains items donated by a fan. It's also the only place where the 1961 Daytona 500 car winner is parked.
"The thing about the history -- if you get into it, it's just fun. The characters, the stories, the legends, not unlike other professions in sports who had their great stars from yesteryear. NASCAR had a bevy of stars, and that's what I really hope people -- whenever they come here, they'll get a feeling for all the people who came before and made this what it was." Branham said.
While it is not open to the public, it is part of the VIP Tour Experience at the World Center of Racing.
The tour takes several hours to complete in a trip to the speedway where you'll get to step onto the track and also visit the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America.
For pricing and schedule details, click here.