Thankful Gathering – 2022 Daytona Turkey Rod Run
What began in 1974 when Stu Sarjeant and his son were turned away from a local antique car parade because it didn’t allow hot rods has evolved into the massive Turkey Run that thousands of enthusiasts celebrate each Thanksgiving weekend in Daytona Beach.
That rejection led to the founding of the Daytona Beach Street Rods and the first Turkey Rod Run. Attendance: about 45 cars in a hotel parking lot. As the event grew, it moved to a high school, then property at the Daytona Beach Airport. In 1989 the group partnered with the Daytona Beach Racing and Recreational Facilities District and found a permanent home at the Daytona International Speedway.
Fast forward to his fall’s 49th Turkey Run event and nearly every square foot of infield space is filled with show cars, a car corral, a massive swap meet, and designated parking areas for car clubs and special interest vehicles. This year more than 100 pro street cars paraded into the speedway on Friday and Saturday mornings to their reserved parking area.
The event has grown to four days, including after-hours activities in the speedway parking lot. One of the pit garages is filled with vintage stock cars and drag racers. This year a Hops and Hoods Beer Fest on Saturday provided attendees with a chance to sample the wares of a couple of dozen Florida breweries.
Spend a day or more walking the swap meet and you’ll find everything you might need for your current project, as well as even more stuff that you don’t need, but you check it out anyway. After refueling at one of the dozens of food vendors you can wander through the 1,500 cars for sale or the nearly 5,000 show cars (no awards at this event).
You’ll find everything from antiques, old-school hot rods, customs, and muscle cars to trucks of all sorts and rides you might not see anywhere else. For instance, a group of people who love the giant Cadillacs of the late Sixties and Seventies made a strong showing. When was the last time you saw a slammed Caddy limo or a hearse on air bags?
The Dukes, a Miami lowrider club, showed up with a batch of distinctive rides. Wander down the aisles and you’ll be surprised at every turn. Raise your hand if you have ever seen an early Sixties Corvair wagon with a small-block Chevy squeezed into the what was the front trunk.
The parking area for clubs to gather serves as a car-guy reunion venue that allows friends from around the country to reconnect. For example, a group of rodders from Vermont use their space to hang out with each other and hook up with Florida friends.
If you’re one of the many who have a Car Event Bucket List, make sure the Turkey Rod Run joins the Woodward Dream Cruise, LA Roadster Show, Goodguys Columbus and other major events on yours.
Photos by Dave Doucette