This year, March 5, 2021, kicks off Daytona Beach Bike Week’s 80th year. That’s a lot of years to keep the biggest motorcycle party in the US going strong.
How much do we really know about the history of the event? When did it first start? What was it like at the beginning? And how Daytona Beach’s Bike Week has evolved over the course of 80 long, amazing years?
Daytona Beach Bike Week was originally not a week of carefully planned out events, but a race, and had its very first inauguration on January 24, 1937 with the first running of the Daytona 200. The first race took place south of Daytona Beach, on a 3.2 mile course, and the first Daytona 200 race winner was Ed Kretz of Monterey Park, CA, with a speed that averaged 73.34 MPH. The event ran as a race from 1937 to 1941, this yearly race took a break from 1942 to 1947 due to World War II. During the years off, an unofficial event was still taking place commonly called Bike Week. People gathered, and the “unofficial” party that is now the Daytona Beach Bike Week that we all know and love had begun.
Check out the very first Daytona winner, Ed Kretz racing in the 1948 Daytona 200 below, and tell us about your Daytona Beach Bike Week experience!
Bike Week Today
Through the efforts of many dedicated individuals and groups, the Bike Week of today is an outstanding event drawing bikers from across the U.S. and multiple countries. It normally takes place during the first full week of March, though the date has been known to change based on other events happening at Daytona International Speedway.
Daytona Bike Week runs from a Friday through the next full week, eventually concluding on the Sunday 10 days out. This year's rally runs from March 5-14; the perfect time to be in Florida, especially for Northern bikers who have been waiting all winter to get their machines out of storage. March in Florida offers plenty of beautiful sunshine, comfortably warm temperatures, and lots to see and do.
If you've never been to Daytona Bike Week, you owe it to yourself to come down to Florida one of these years. It is an event like no other. You will make plenty of new friends, see some incredible machines, and just have a heck of a good time. And if you're like most bikers, one visit will not be enough. You will come back year after year.