is a city in Volusia County, Florida, USA. According to 2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the city has a population of 64,421. Daytona Beach is a principal city of the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which the census bureau estimated had a 2006 population of 496,575. Daytona Beach is a prinicipal city in the Fun Coast region of the state of Florida.
The city is historically known as having one of the few beaches in the world where the hard packed sand allows motorized vehicles to drive on the beach in restricted areas. This hard packed sand made Daytona Beach a mecca for motorsports, with the old Daytona Beach Road Course having hosted races for over 50 years. This course was replaced in 1959 by the Daytona International Speedway. The city is also the headquarters for NASCAR and the Grand American Road Racing Association.
Daytona Beach is a year-round family-friendly resort area, but could also accurately be called a seasonal town, with large groups of out-of-towners descending upon the city for various events, most notably Speedweeks in early February when over 200,000 NASCAR fans come to attend the season-opening Daytona 500. Other events include the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 race in July, Bike Week in early March, Biketoberfest in mid October. In the past Daytona Beach catered to spring breakers, but in recent years most of the vacationers have migrated to other sites, like Panama City Beach.
The area was once inhabited by the Timucuan Indians, who lived in fortified villages. War and disease, however, would decimate the tribe. Florida was acquired from Spain by the United States in 1821, although permanent settlement was delayed until after the Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842. When the Civil War ended, Florida experienced a boom in tourism.
The city was founded in 1870 and incorporated in 1876. It was named for its founder, Matthias D. Day. In 1886, the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway arrived in Daytona. The line would be purchased in 1889 by Henry Flagler, who made it part of his Florida East Coast Railway. The separate towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach and Seabreeze merged as "Daytona Beach" in 1926, at the urging of civic leader J.B. Kahn and others. By the 1920s, it was dubbed "The World's Most Famous Beach".
Daytona's wide beach of smooth, compacted sand attracted automobile and motorcycle races beginning in 1902, as pioneers in the industry tested their inventions. On March 8, 1936, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course. In 1959, William France created NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway to replace the beach course. Automobiles are still permitted on certain areas of the beach, at a maximum speed of 10 mph.