Volusia County To Allow Historic Automobile Beach Race Events

The Volusia County Council amended the county’s beach code recently to establish a process to approve and regulate historic automobile race beach events.

One such event, the Historic North Turn Legends Beach Parade of vintage racecars, has become an increasingly popular local tradition that celebrates Volusia County’s ties to motorsports and the historic NASCAR era of racing on the hard-packed sand in the years before the speedway was built.

The annual parade replicates the 4.1-mile course along S.R. A1A and then onto the beach in Ponce Inlet that the grand national race followed in the 1940s and 1950s. The parade takes place in February on a stretch of the beach that ordinarily is off-limits to vehicles. The federal government allows driving on portions of the county’s beaches under a permit that requires the county to safeguard protected species like sea turtles from harm. The event takes place outside of the annual season when sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand to hatch.

The county has sought assurances that the parade won’t have an adverse impact on the federal permit that allows beach driving. The federal permit was amended in January to incorporate the event as part of the federal permit. The county’s habitat conservation plan also was amended to incorporate the event. And State Rep. Tom Leek sponsored legislation in Tallahassee at the county’s request authorizing Volusia County to pass an ordinance allowing reenactment of an historic automobile race event on a portion of the beach where vehicles have not been previously permitted. The bill passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month. On Tuesday the County Council unanimously adopted the ordinance as authorized by the new state law, which creates a process for approving an eligible event if it complies with the statute and the county’s federal permit and beach habitat conservation plan.

While council member Billie Wheeler has been vocal in her support of the Legends Beach Parade, she said Tuesday’s resolution was the result of a group effort.

“This took a lot of teamwork and a lot of work on the outside and inside and persistence,” Wheeler said. “It’s a victory for our entire council. We do this as a team.”

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