DAYTONA BEACH — The sun was shining, engines were roaring and a sizeable crowd was gathering at Daytona International Speedway on Friday for the 48th annual Daytona Turkey Run classic car show.
The event, which runs through Sunday, is one of the most anticipated on a car lover’s calendar. It features an exhibition of more than 6,000 classic cars, a swap meet, vendors, food and even a beer fest.
Attendees walked up and down the rows of custom cars and trucks (of all colors, models, and sizes) along the Speedway’s infield. The event usually draws around 150,000 people throughout the four days. Because of the pandemic, that number was approximately 100,000 for last year’s fall Turkey Run.
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Scott Button said he has been coming to the event for 15 years. He brought his light blue 1981 Avanti.
“If you like cars, you’re going to find something that you like, guaranteed,” Button said. “Everybody’s tastes are different.”
Button said one of the great things about the car show is the huge variety of classic autos. Even though he doesn’t like rusty-looking cars, for example, he said it’s about the “thought that goes into what they do.”
“Some people leave the rust on and they actually put a clear coat on it to save the look so it looks older,” Button said. “That’s some people’s tastes, not necessarily mine. But I can appreciate what they do to get to that.”
The swap meet area, Button said, is full of different car parts and other items being sold, making it easy for those looking for something specific for their cars.
“I’ve come here to get a lot of different ideas for the car that I’m building now,” he said. “You can look at stuff and say ‘that kind of works for me, that’s not going to work.’ Plus the people you meet — everybody that comes here is interested in cars.”
“There is a lot of comradery, everybody is into the car thing for one reason or another, so there is a lot of knowledge here,” he added.
Four days of 'a lot of people and a lot of fun'
Although many that brought their cars for the show share the same hobby and passion, the stories behind owner and their car are unique.
Ormond Beach resident Rick Millard brought his “torch red” Chevrolet Fleetline Arrow Sedan. The model was manufactured between 1941-52 and was particularly popular after World War II, Millard said.
“There’s over 6,000 cars here this weekend,” Millard said. “Every car will have a different history to it, and a different story to tell you. It’s an event of four days with a lot of people and a lot of fun.”
Millard said he grew up around old classic cars and that his aunt used to own the model like the one he brought to the show.
“She had one of these, and that’s my memory of this type of car.”
This is Millard’s sixth Turkey Run and the fourth year he has brought his Fleetline Arrow.
“There is something about these cars that really brings you back in the days,” he said. “It brings you back to memories of old drive-ins, the girls on the roller-skates bringing the food to the windows — everybody back then had a souped-up car.”
Millard said that he hopes that younger generations can be inspired by the passion for building and working on older models so events like the Turkey Run can keep bringing an even bigger number of unique car models.
“You don’t see many of these anymore. They are hard to find,” Millard said. “In the last four years, I’ve seen three that were close to mine.”
Millard’s Fleetline Arrow is almost entirely custom made and refurbished, but the overall look of the original model is still intact.
“People want to tell you their stories. They’ll tell you stories about their car, they’ll even come up and remember your car,” he said.
“These cars, although they got all the horsepower, these cars are show cars,” Millard said. “You want to take them to a show like this and let people enjoy it, and then you’ll start enjoying it too.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The 48th annual Daytona Turkey Run
WHERE: Daytona International Speedway, 1801 W International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach
WHEN: Through Sunday
COST: $15 Saturday; $10 Sunday
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Daytona Turkey Run at the Speedway: Car enthusiasts gather for Day 2