In our line of work—wait, let’s change that. In our obsession, we come across many long-running events that stand out as more than just an annual gathering of enthusiasts. The automotive community is fueled by passion, determination, and many, many busted knuckles. It crosses boundaries and blends generations (as well as genres), bringing people together over a shared love of car culture. And as we barrel toward Thanksgiving, and many car lovers are reluctantly forced indoors, one event stands out for its ability to unite us all, kick the cold, and reign supreme as a beloved, decades-long show, swap meet, and car corral. That’s right. It’s time for the 45th Annual 2018 Daytona Turkey Run.
Created in 1974 by Stu Sarjeant, the Daytona Turkey Run (like most great American events) originated as a rebellious grudge. When Stu and his then five-year-old son, Jim, tried to enter their 1923 Ford T-Bucket in the 1973 Ormond Beach AACA Gaslight Parade, they were turned away and told “No Hot Rods Allowed.” Undeterred, Stu, along with friends Rick Finzer and Olin Hopes, launched their own “parade” the next year, founding the Daytona Beach Street Rods in the process. According to the event’s website, the first Turkey Run hosted just 45 cars at a Howard Johnson hotel.
Today, the event is known as the largest combined collector car show in the United States. With a variety of over 6,000 vehicles in attendance, over 2500 swap meet places, live music, delicious food, and aisle after aisle of artisans and merchandise, we’d say that’s a fair commendation! In addition to all the fun provided, the Daytona Turkey Run also pays it forward, donating more than $7 million over the years to various charities, local programs, and recreational facilities.
If only Stu, Rick, and Olin could see it today… Oh wait, that’s right, they CAN and DO. All three of the original men who put this event together are still actively taking part in keeping it going. With that kind of history, you can bet it’s the type of community event you don’t want to miss.
The event is held twice a year, Thanksgiving weekend and the 4th weekend of March. The 2018 Daytona Turkey Run kicks off Thursday, November 22nd and runs until Sunday, November 25th on the Eastern section of the infield at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway.
Click here for more information on pre-registration. (You can also register on show days at the entry gates for $60.) Spectator tickets run $15/day Thursday-Saturday and $10/day on Sunday, while kids 11 and under get in free.
Even small scale enthusiast events require massive planning and thoughtful preparation. With 44 years under their belts, you can assure the team behind the Daytona Turkey Run has this event operating like a well-oiled machine. What are you waiting for? Leave the cold weather and family dinner arguments behind, and spend Thanksgiving in the Florida sunshine doing what you love most—jumping head first into a sea of auto enthusiasm.