Contributed by Russ Muller
I’m sure everyone can agree that 2020 has been the most unusual year in modern history. It was late-February when I got the envelope in the mail with my media credentials for the Spring Daytona Turkey Run. It was just a few weeks after that when the world stopped. Like countless other events, the Spring Turkey Run was cancelled due to COVID. For many months, the question of whether there would be a Turkey Run in November was not answered. When the city of Daytona Beach decided not to issue permits for vendors for Biketoberfest, I was afraid that the answer was going to be no. Happily, I was wrong.
2020 marked the 47th Daytona Turkey Run, November 26-29 at Daytona International Speedway. This year was a little different due to COVID, but just a little. There were no celebrity guests this year, as part of the plan to encourage social distancing through the event. They also added hand sanitizing stations throughout the infield. They did not have the usual opportunity for the media to go to the top of the tower to shoot photos. Finally, although not mandatory, they strongly encouraged attendees to wear face covering and to practice social distancing as much as possible.
On Thursday morning (Day 1 of the event), I had the opportunity to chat with Jennifer Labonte, Director of Marketing & Public Relations for the Daytona Turkey Run for a few minutes. When I asked her about the number of registrations for the event, she told me that they were similar to 2019. As the morning went on, I came to realize that she wasn’t lying. The flow of cars and people felt very much like it did last year. I saw friends old and new from many different states, and the number of cars and trucks in both the show area and Car Corral rivaled 2019. I was able to shoot a few hundred photos, walk a few miles, and not even begin to scratch the surface of what the Turkey Run had to offer.
Friday (Day 2) has gotten to be as busy as Saturdays used to be years ago. The variety of cars and trucks was amazing, and the crowds were not afraid to show up and enjoy the show. Being an outdoor event, I was surprised to see how many people were wearing face coverings. That’s not a bad thing, I was glad to see that a lot of people are taking this pandemic seriously. One of the many treats this day was the big turnout of pro-street cars, anchored by the Orlando Outlaw Garage guys. They had over 40 blower cars parked in their area, and someone estimated that all together they had over 60,000 horsepower! Once again, after shooting a couple hundred photos and walking a few more miles, I left for the day not intending to return until the Spring 2021 Turkey Run. But…
Sunday morning, Day 4, I decided that I had not seen enough of the Turkey Run and went back for more. Sunday is always nice, because it’s a little quieter and less busy. Sunday is usually my opportunity to walk through the vendor area, and sometimes through the swap meet. I didn’t make it to the swap meet, but I did get to see a lot more show cars than I usually see on Sunday. It felt as though the attendees wanted to enjoy as much of the event as possible, and many stayed for Sunday instead of heading home early. Perhaps everyone enjoyed the feeling that the world was back to “normal” for a few days.
The 31st Spring Daytona Turkey Run is scheduled to take place Friday, March 26 through Sunday, March 28. Hope to see you there!