On Friday the 6th of July after an exhausting few days (see blogs on 4th of July and Kennedy Space Centre) Shane and I set off for the car races.  We might be missing this weekend’s V8’s in Townsville but we were off to the legendary Daytona International Speedway to watch some NASCAR racing.

Being used to our own V8 supercars in Australia we were a bit miffed with the fact that outside before the gates open there is a big fat nothing.  We couldn’t find a feed for lunch or even a drink and it was another 93° F high humidity, stinker of a day.  After trudging about outside the raceway we stumbled onto a US Air Force virtual display where Shane got to “fix a leak in the hydraulics” of an F16 while I got to do an “avionics check” and then send one F16 away on task.  Once the fun was over there was another race on. What would open up first?  The threatening storm clouds or the gates allowing us to get under cover.  In a brilliant piece of American common sense the same people that were displaying warning signs about the upcoming thunder and lightning storm (“Get under cover immediately” they said) refused at 1:50pm to open the gates 10 minutes early allowing us all to get under cover until “official opening time” of 2pm.  While the gate keepers were safely tucked up in their area those of us queueing started feeling the rapid drop in temperature before the rain started coming down.  Shane & I were amongst the very first in line and managed to get upstairs to the concourse before it really came down by the bucketful.

Almost alone in the stadium with a capacity of over 167,000 people we watched from the safety of cover but still little in the way of food or drink was open.  Eventually we got some rubbish food but it was better than nothing.  This downpour was horrific and caused the first event to be cancelled and the remainder of the schedule to become ‘floating’ much like people’s belongings in the rain.  The first ‘action’ we saw on the track was the Track Drying Teams.  About 6 teams of 4-5 vehicles with massive squeegies and even more massive blowers equally positioned around the track attempting to blow dry the bitumen. Eventually 5 hours after we got in the gate the ‘Qualifying Time Trials’ started. Near 8pm, after the national anthem and a prayer, the main (and by now only) race began. We will both admit watching cars go around in circles (the enormous size of the track shocked us both) doesn’t seem very appealing but when they are doing 195 MPH (310 KPH) it does get you in especially when someone wants to panel beat his opponents into submission.  By the end of the night as the winners lined up for marshalling and the last car was ‘nudged’ over the line we agreed the negatives of earlier in the day were nullified by the excitement of this great historic venue.

Over the next 2 days we rested and prepared for the next leg of our journey.  You can she Shane there under our van awning as a squirrel played only a few metres away in the bush.  Our site here at Mims (Seasons in the Sun RV Park) was truly terrific with thick tropical jungle patches all about us. On a quirky note there are several ponds in the RV Park and there is a large alligator that has set up home in the park.  They have been 3 weeks trying to catch it without success.  The rest of the pictures in the next gallery are of our trip from Mims to St Mary’s (near Jacksonville – home of the Adams Class DDG’s for my navy mates) in Georgia, about 160 miles.  For most of the trip we avoided the I-95 freeway and stuck to the beach road to view the scenery and wow did we see some scenery.  I think it would be safe to say the Florida peninsula is totally lined on both sides by gorgeous beaches.  On the East Coast in particular the ‘mainland’ is protected by long, long, narrow islands which are lined on the the Atlantic Ocean side with fantastic beach homes and some very interesting townships.  And of course hopping from island to island there are the bridges.

The first big bridge bought us out at Daytona Beach. From there we travelled along the beach front for probably 80 miles.  Yes the beaches are that long and the sights are really something to see.  Besides the masses of high rise condominiums Daytona beach had an amusement park and some fabulous homes.  There are some pictures here of houses literally on the beach.  They were basically deserted.  The beachfront had swallowed them up.  Then came St Augustine’s.  You’ll read more on this part of Town in my next post as we head there tomorrow.  At St Augustine’s Regional Airport we saw what looked to be four T35 jets. I am guessing they were for joy flights.  Might have to look into that tomorrow too.  Then as we hit the St John’s River we came to another impressive bridge on the fringe of Jacksonville.  Finally after 5 or so weeks we crossed the border out of Florida into Georgia.

So that’s about it for now.  As always I’ll say keep watching for more.  Until then Adios.

Garry & Shane


5 thought on “Start your engines”
  1. T38 I think but more interesting are they a couple of F4’s alongside the T bird ????? That sloping bum is distinctive, very cool get heaps of pics with numbers please, if youvé gone past then drive back……….I have sat in the Chair of a PIG, Hornet and Sabre, F16 not much differnt, you wouldn’t fit in them now Garry, neither would I for that matter…lol,lol,lol.

    1. I’m glad you called Phantoms because that’s what I thought but as they were on the far side & I was driving as we passed (Shane took shot from car) I couldn’t be sure. Sadly too far back to return. I’d kill for a joy flight in an F4.
      Was lucky enough when in RAAF SAR to do a 2 hr flight in a Mirage at Williamtown. One of the highlights of my life.

      1. Got to taxi around in a PIG, CAS promised me a ride in his PC9 as I used to refuel his plane a lot and drive him sometimes but never got the ride sadly, sitting in the door of a blackhawk is super cool also. Google, Miltary Air Museum, Virginia Beach, exceedingly cool place………..will show Youngy your pics today as he’s stopping by for lunch, he’ll no doubt call you names as well……..

        1. Bloody hell IAn. We are so close to Virginia Beach but we’ve already booked the next few steps and they’re westward away from the coast. We’ll have to fit it in next trip. Re: Blackhawk. Our daughter was a Sgt in Army Aviation. Through her we got to go flying in Blackhawks, Chinooks and the new MRH90 (Taipan). In Darwin we got a sneak preview of the Tigers too.

          1. There’s some fantastic museums over there with Warbirds, MAM’s is probably one of the best…..never liked fuelling Chooks and thought they always stunk of fuel……but still cool…. nothing beats a Huey, low and fast thru Carnarvon Gorge, sitting in the door with feet on the skids, wish i had a digital camera back then…. Youngy did call you the same name I did, he wishes you well.

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