Turkey Rod Run – Four Decades of Fun
The Turkey Rod Run at Daytona International Speedway has become an institution for eastern states car guys and gals. What started in 1975 as a one-day gathering of 45 cars at a hotel on Daytona Beach is now one of the country’s largest combined car shows and swap meets.
The Turkey Rod Run, which celebrated its 44th edition a few weeks back now covers four days, filling the infield at the Daytona International Speedway with more than 5,000 show cars, 1,200 cars for sale and 1,500 swap meet vendors. Rain and clouds dampened Thursday and Friday, but Saturday dawned to clear skies and mild mid-70s weather. Sunday also experienced a perfect fall day in Florida.
A stroll – a pretty long one actually – through the show car field mixes muscle with the mundane, exotics with unusual creations. Where else would you see a ’57 Chevy station wagon stuffed with a turbo diesel engine as well as a ’30 Model A coupe sporting a 2.8-litre turbocharged Ford four-cylinder? And just about everything else in between.
One show-field feature that you don’t often see elsewhere is assigned parking areas for car clubs, some for specific types (woodies, etc.) and others for clubs with a broad member base. One regular spot hosts a group of rodders from Vermont who escape the cold for Florida each fall.
An annual feature of the Turkey Rod Run is a display of vintage racing cars, from historic NASCAR racers to 1960s AFX drag cars.
When Stu Sarjeant along with friends Rick Finzer and Olin Hopes founded the Daytona Beach Street Rods in 1975 and produced the first event at a Howard Johnson hotel on the beach, they weren’t expecting the event to grow as it has. The run moved to Seabreeze High School in 1982 and added a swap meet. By 1987 the Turkey Run had grown to more than 900 cars and relocated to a property at the Daytona Beach airport.
Photos by the author with additional images courtesy of the Turkey Rod Run