. - PONCE INLET, FL (WMBF) - NASCAR's past dates back to a time when racing in Daytona Beach actually meant racing on the beach. The back stretch was all sand and the drivers turned off the beach and headed down what is now South Atlantic Avenue.
There's a restaurant where that turn happened back in the 40s and 50s. Now, that restaurant is a shrine to the drivers who used to race right outside its front door.
Rhonda Glasnak owns Racing's North Turn. She and her husband bought the restaurant nearly two decades ago.
"We looked in the window and this place was completely rundown," she said when asked why it felt like a worthy investment. "We both just really liked it and knew we could do something with it. Bring it back to racing roots."
Walking into the restaurant is a history lesson. Even looking at the menu takes you back with items like the famous Russ Truelove prime rib sandwich. It got the name from the former beach driver. It's his favorite dish.
Now retired from racing, Truelove spends time at the restaurant telling stories about racing's glory days.
"When I signed up for NASCAR to run in '53 the only thing you needed was the helmet and a car to drive," Truelvoe said. He tried to explain what it was like driving on sand, saying he had to hold cardboard in front of the windshield for a mile at a time and hope he didn't crash into the car in front of him.
Truelove raced on the beach four times, and hearing stories like his reinforce Glasnak's idea that it's important to remember the sport's past.
"There's always people walking around here with their young children looking at the stuff. 'Look daddy, look daddy there's grandpa on the wall.' It's really cool," she said.
Racing's North Turn is about a 25-minute drive away from Daytona International Speedway. In 2007, the restaurant was recognized as a historic landmark.
"This is where it all began," Rhonda said, explaining races ran on the beach until the late 1950s. "This is where big Bill France ran his first sanctioned races from 1948 to 1958. Right outside the door here."
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