Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Daytona 200 - March 1948

In March of 1948, LIFE magazine sent photographer Joseph Scherschel down to Daytona Beach, FL to cover the Daytona 200.  I don't think they were ready for what greeted them when they got there.  Here's some quotes from LIFE on the event:

"375 helmeted daredevils and plenty of non-racing hell-raisers"

"Because the antics of an unruly minority reflect on the dignity of motorcycling, the American Motorcycle Association may hire special police at future races.  One duty will be to restrain sophomoric cyclists who amused themselves this year by tossing firecrackers into the crowd."

Of the 155 bikes that started the race, only 45 finished.  There were multiple injuries and even deaths by the time the race was over.  Floyd Emde won the race by only 12 seconds, but he did hold his lead the entire race.  This was the first time a rider led the entire Daytona 200 and the last time that Indian Motorcycle won that race.

 An interesting side note to the race, it appears that Floyd Emde may not have been the true winner.  Rumor has it that the actual winner was Billy Mathews piloting a Norton.  Due to poor lap counting by the officials, Emde was mistakenly awarded first place.  The call was protested and debated for some hours and in the end Mathews and Emde agreed to split the combined first and second place prize money 50/50, but Emde was still listed as the winner.

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