It’s Race Day at the 76th running of the Daytona 200, the fans start loading in around 8:00 am. The access is so free flowing and the closeness and hospitality of the teams are very cool. Walk around the garages and watch the teams prepare their fine-tuned racing bikes, chat with them and take photos to your heart’s delight. Many fan groups return year after year setting up, tents and grills, just like at the famous races at Daytona International Speedway, at their favorite viewing location. I positioned myself, next to friends of local rider Daniel Spaulding of Deltona, FL. I wanted to be at Turn 5 to photograph the horseshoe cornering, the full lean of these bikes, as well as the high bank, turn 1.
This is not an inexpensive sport. These are among the finest racing bikes and support systems anywhere. Many of the riders are working on a shoestring budget, out of their vans, and hire teams just for a race. One rider, Geoff May of the MayDay Project has a $10,000 budget supported by Go Fund Me. He makes the trip down from southern Georgia and is one of the more competitive Daytona 200 riders of the past few years. “Our engine expired and we have 30 minutes to mount the new one, loaned by another race team, and be race ready.” Said Geoff. (Bike #99) Geoff got off to a bad start but clawed his way to an P8 finish.
The only female in the race was Patricia Fernandez, (#926) a fan favorite for her fan zone hospitality. She invited several children to hop on her racing bike, only minutes from the Green Flag. Patricia has some epic Turn 5 battles throughout the race and finished at P21, good enough to be in the top 33%.
The bikes in the race include Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati, Honda and MV Augusta. The engine sizes of +/- 600 cc power the bikes around the track at an average close to 115 MPH with top speeds up to 150 MPH at the end of the largest straightaway. This year’s winner was Danny Eslick aboard a Yamaha 600 of the TOBC Racing Team.
For race results: ASRA Racing
History: The most wins at Daytona is five (5) shared by Scott “Mister Daytona” Russell and Miquel Duhamel and the manufacturing (brand) leader is Yamaha with 22 wins (As of 2016). The first races competed on a beach track in the sand in the 1930’s changing over to the speedway in the early 1960’s. Harley-Davidson was in the winner’s circle the most until the 1970’s when Yamaha took over.
See you next year!