Episode 1: Daytona Beach and Road Course: Origins
As a two-time Daytona 500 winner and third-generation driver in a family forever connected to NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pursues a deeper understanding of his sport’s origins by going to the very track where it started.
This episode features:
Bill Blair Jr.
Bill Blair Jr. from High Point, North Carolina grew up working on race cars with his father, NASCAR pioneer Bill Blair Sr. He would later go on to help Jim Paschal and begin drag racing himself. He would go on to be inducted into the Muscle Car Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
A master engine builder, Blair Jr. also owned Bill Blair Automotive and built many powerhouses for winning NASCAR teams. Blair Jr. appeared on Lost Speedways with his father’s 1953 Daytona-race winning Oldsmobile and uniform to recount his childhood experiences watching the beach events.
Originally hailing from Concord, North Carolina, Dink Widenhouse burst onto the NASCAR scene at the tender age of 15. He was recognized as a force in his famous B-29 modified coup, winning races all over the Virginia/Carolina dirt circuit. Through his racing career, he became friends with Earnhardt family patriarch Ralph, and the duo often traveled together.
Widenhouse made his Daytona Beach debut in the 1952 Modified-Sportsman event, as one of 118 to start the race. He would go on to compete on the sands five times in his career, with a best finish of 9th in 1953.
Known as the most famous ticket agent in racing history, 101-year old Juanita “Lightning'' Epton has been a fixture in Daytona since the 1940s. She began attending races with her husband Joe in 1945, who worked as a race scorer. In 1945, the couple met Bill France Sr. at a race in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and would go on to work for him in the scoring and ticketing departments.
Epton logged ticket sales on paper and counted thousands of tickets by hand during her time at the beach road course. When France opened Daytona International Speedway in 1959, she moved into the ticket office there where she continues to work to this very day.
Watch Season 2 of Lost Speedways on PeacockTV.