"Down in Daytona, we prefer the motel," says Martha Martin of Braselton, Georgia. "We went down with friends in an RV one time, and I didn't enjoy it because of the heat. You're a little more confined in an RV than you are in a motel."
Martin, who runs Phil-Mart Transportation, a trucking company, travels to Daytona for Speedweeks in February and again for the July Pepsi 400 with her husband Max. "Been coming to Daytona since the late-'60s," she says.
The Martins stay at one of the many small mom-and-pop motels that line the beach. The rates, as you would expect, are jacked up for the race season ($120 a night), but they like the ease and comfort of their oceanfront digs.
"We've got the ground floor," says Martin. "It's small; no elevator. We park right in front of the room. It's oceanfront, and we've got the grill and shuffleboard right there. When we go to the July race, we use that as vacation time and stay a week. We hit all the good places to eat, and we love walking on the beach.
"We only stay four or five days in February. In February, I don't like that you have to buy X number of days at a hotel; I'm resentful of that. But they have enough business that comes anyway."
The Martins spend race days in the Winston Tower. "Years ago, I'd go to the track by myself," says Martin. "My husband liked to stay behind and watch it on TV in the hotel room. He liked racing, but he liked staying and watching it on TV."
The Martins haven't turned Daytona into an official second home like they did at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where they bought one of Bruton Smith's trackside condos. But their stays in Daytona have certainly taken on a homecoming feel.
"We've made so many friends down there," says Martin. "When we're there, we spend so much time visiting our friends, or they're visiting us. It's almost like an extended home that you accumulate."
Daytona International Speedway
(2.5-mile high-banked, asphalt oval)
1801 W. International Speedway Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Feb. 5-6: 38th Rolex 24 at Daytona Grand American Road Racing Association Championship race
Feb. 12: Bud Pole Day Qualifying for the Daytona 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race and Discount Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series race presented by ACDelco RapidFire
Feb. 13: Bud Shootout at Daytona and Daytona ARCA 200 Bondo/MarHyde Series race
Feb. 17: Gatorade Twin 125-Mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500
Feb. 18: Inaugural Craftsman Truck Series 250 at Daytona and Round One of the True Value IROC XXIV
Feb. 19: NAPA Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series race
Feb. 20: 42nd Daytona 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race Schedule is tentative and subject to change
Volusia Speedway Park
(11/42-mile clay oval and 31/48-mile asphalt oval) 1500 E. Hwy. 40 DeLeon Springs, FL 32130 904/985-4402 www.volusiaspeedwaypark.com
Feb. 10-13: All Star Sprints & UMP Modifieds
Feb. 13: All Star Sprint Championship, UMP Modifieds, ALMS Super Late Models
Feb. 14: ALMS Super Late Models, UMP Modifieds
Feb. 15: ALMS Super Late Models, DIRT Modifieds, UMP Modifieds
Feb. 16: ALMS Super Late Models, UMP Modifieds
Feb. 17: Late Models, DIRT Modifieds
Feb. 18: ALMS Super Late Models, DIRT Modifieds, UMP Modified Championship
Feb. 19: ALMS Super Late Model Championship, DIRT Modified
Florida Speed Park (St. Augustine Speedway)
(11/42-mile semibanked, asphalt oval)900 Big Oak Rd. St. Augustine, FL 32095 904/825-2886
Feb. 10: Opening Ceremonies/ Practice Day
Feb. 11: Sunshine State Classic, Day I: Super Late Models, Late Models, Thunder Truck Modifieds, and more
Feb. 12: Sunshine State Classic Day II: Super Late Models (Florida Cup), Florida Southern Lightning Trucks, Sportsman class
Feb. 14: Valentine's Day Massacre: Super Late Models, Enduro, Powder Puff