I received a phone call from a friend asking if I knew anyone who wanted to sell race tickets to the 1996 Daytona 500. He knew that I had attended the “Firecracker 400” held in July at Daytona since 1985 and he thought I might know someone who had tickets for the Daytona 500. It seems the person that he and another friend sat with in previous Daytona 500’s had failed to renew their tickets. Back then the race was pretty much sold out and tickets were not easy to find.
I told him I might know of someone and I would check with him. My wife then asked if I wanted to go and gave her a resounding YES !!!!! Remember back then there were no cell phones or social media so the task may not be easy.
My oldest son had a friend in South Carolina that we had met in Daytona one year in July while attending the “Firecracker 400. My son called him and was told that he didn’t have any Daytona 500 tickets, but he had a friend living in another part of South Carolina who might have tickets. After series of phone calls my son gave me the number of a man who lived in South Carolina.
I called him and found out he was with a group of around forty people and yes they had some people who could not go. While all this was going on my friend called and said he had found some tickets on the back stretch and he was going to get them. I called the man from South Carolina and told him we only needed two tickets and he confirmed that they were ours.
Our next problem was finding a room because most of the rooms in Daytona and the surrounding area are pretty much sold out for the Daytona 500. Also the room rates usually triple in price with a seven day minimum. The motel where we stay in July was sold out, but the motel next door had a last minute cancellation so we had a room.
Luckily the man who had our race tickets was staying in the same motel. We couldn’t believe our good fortune that we didn’t have to arrange to meet the man with the tickets at some other location. They must have liked us because we were invited to sit with them for the next four years. Sadly, we couldn’t attend the 2001 Daytona 500 and we have not been back for a Daytona 500 since.
Looking back it is amazing how the whole situation evolved. How one simple request started a sequence of phone calls that resulted in my obtaining tickets for the 1996 Daytona 500. More amazing was how a room cancellation let us get a room in the same motel as the man with the race tickets. He was staying in the same hallway.
Fortunately, we have returned to Daytona in July for the summer race since 1985. The Daytona 500 and Speedweeks has always been exciting, but expensive because of the motel pricing and the added expense of attending all of the races if one wants to go.