Every year in early March, you can count on one thing: Bike Week at Daytona. It’s the inevitable excuse to get out of a cold climate and head to Florida for a weeklong journey filled with motorcycles and sunburns. The 2019 edition did not disappoint in either category.
Thursday, March 7
As with most road trips, we began by getting the setup roadworthy. In this case, we rented a Ford F-250 Super Duty with an impressive amount of room for our four passengers and cargo, all heading 847 miles straight south to Daytona Beach with a dual-axle trailer full of bikes, trophies for RCSX and Daytona Vintage SX, a golf cart, and various supplies. This being a new truck we’d never towed with before, there were a few delays right from the get-go. The first and most important required removing the “no unauthorized towing” strap through the hitch. Then we noticed our hitch receiver was too large. Fortunately, there’s a Tractor Supply just 100 yards away from the Racer X HQ; three trips later, we had the correct hitch adapter for our rig and we were off!
We started the trip only a mere hour behind schedule, on a brisk 26-degree morning in Morgantown, West Virginia. Marketing manager Justin Hale started the drive, with online associate editor Mitch Kendra doing navigation in the passenger seat; Justin’s wife, Courtney, and myself took the first shift in the back, so I decided to get some rest in so I was primed for my first driving shift.
Six and a half hours into the drive, KAPAW! Our right rear trailer tire completely exploded. (The car next to us was kind enough to inform us of the damage.) Even better, the next exit had a Love’s Truck Stop with full-service tire center for the big rigs. We relied on Love’s for a proper jack and were able to get our spare on and get back on the road. Next stop: Tread Quarters Discount Tire in Rock Hill, South Carolina for a new spare and a bite to eat. Done and done.
About eight hours and two more driver shifts later, we were entering Gate 40 at Daytona International Speedway at 1:30 a.m. Our Apex trailer awaited at camper space 117. Our week at the World Center of Racing had begun.
Friday, March 8
Groggy and probably as rested as we’d be all trip, we got up and headed to Dunn Avenue to pick up our credentials to actually allow us into the speedway for the duration of our weeklong stay. Daytona is a standalone race, promoted by International Speedway Corporation, not Feld Entertainment, so our standard series credentials were not going to work here. Upon returning to the speedway, the gate attendant asked who was going to win. I shouted “Baggett!” and the guy said I was the first to guess that. Okay, I’ll take it.
A cool thing about the Daytona Supercross is that they attract a lot more riders to press day than a standard supercross, so later that day we got to see the track firsthand with a bunch of the top riders putting in laps—even Ricky Carmichael himself. The idea for shooting press day was also special for this race, as we wanted to recreate a famous Oakley ad from 1997 and then run it as a poster in this issue. That idea got shot down when we received something better: the actual 1997 photo! More on that in “One Hit Wonder,” starting on page 86.