Daytona’s first Bike Week coincided with the inaugural running of the Daytona 200 bike race, which was held on January 24, 1937. Every year since then, bikers have come from all over the United States to ride on this area’s hard-packed sands, visit its beautiful beaches, and enjoy the glorious Florida weather. Today, the Daytona 200 and Bike Week, which is now a ten-day event, are typically held at the end of February or at the beginning of March.
From 1937 to 1941, the Daytona 200 race was run on a track that was made up in part by the hard packed sands of the beach and in part by paved road. The race drew many spectators who came to enjoy this unusual motorcycle beach race and the nice Florida climate. Unfortunately, the race had to be cancelled from 1942 to 1947, during World War II. Even without the races, however, bikers still gathered in Daytona.
In 1947, the Daytona 200 motorcycle race once again returned to the sand and pavement race course before finally moving to the Daytona International Speedway in 1961. As each year passed, the number of bikers who came to Daytona to enjoy the races and accompanying events grew, as did the tension between city officials, law enforcement, and revelers. In 1987, after years of bad blood between locals and motorcyclists, Daytona city officials teamed with the chamber of commerce to create a special task force to oversee and bring some order to Bike Week festivities.
Today, Daytona Bike Week, which draws approximately 500,000 bikers annually, bills itself as the “World’s Largest Motorcycle Event.” Bike Week’s ten days includes many exciting activities, such as stunt shows, a bike parade, live music throughout the area, as well as custom motorcycle shows. Many of these events are held at Riverfront Park, which is also the site of Bike Week’s official headquarters.
In addition, to all of these activities, many of the top motorcycle vendors and manufacturers in the nation have booths at the rally, including Harley-Davidson, which rolls out new products during Daytona’s Bike Week.
Motorcyclists can also join a number of rides during Bike Week, including the charitable Hogs 4 Heroes Ride, as well as poker runs and treasure hunts. Of course, many riders still head out to the Daytona International Speedway to attend the event that started it all, the Daytona 200.
Lodging options are pretty plentiful in the Daytona area, which is home to a large number of hotels, as well as timeshares, but motorcyclists need to book their rooms early in order to guarantee accommodations during this popular event. There are also a number of campgrounds in the Daytona area, as well.
In addition to the spring Bike Week, Daytona is also the site of Biketoberfest, which is held in October, and also Black Bike Week, which is held at the same time as this bigger rally.