Click here to watch a video, courtesy of Central Florida News 13, Orlando, Fla., on the following story.
Thousands of recreational vehicles pull into the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach Fla., for Speedweeks each year.
Many of them are likely to break down, which is keeping two repairmen making motorhome calls.
News 13 caught up with a repairman visiting John Story, who owns a racing team and recently purchased a $700,000 RV.
It’s parked in the speedway’s infield, but there’s a problem with the RV.
Story said the toilet won’t flush.
“We had a little plumbing problem — a problem that the facilities didn’t work,” Story said.
The race team owner called RV repairman Jerry Laman, who said he’s had his hands full.
Laman said calls have been non-stop and claims he averages up to 30 or 40 calls on a daily basis.
“I mean you’ve got 5,000 motorhomes in this infield,” Laman said. “Just about everybody has my phone number.”
He claims that despite the number of calls, he’s not sitting on a gold mine.
However, Laman will not turn anyone away.
“If they have a, you know, something really bad or major, or a gas leak, or no water or something, we try to get out there and help them as much as we can,” Laman said.
Lahman added many of the issues RV owners call him about can easily be resolved.
But he admits any home going from one point to another is bound to break down.
“People think you pay alot of money for these. Hey, you’re still gonna have some troubles once in a while just by potholes and stuff that we have on the road,” Laman said.
It took Laman sometime to tune in the satellite dish, but Story said the repairman did bring him some relief.
“The bathroom works, which is the most important thing.” Story said.
While some fans are still counting down the days until they get to head out to Daytona International Speedway, several dozen already have rolled their recreational vehicles into their favorite parking spots, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
They started pulling in Feb. 1, the first day Geico Park West, a parking lot outside the track along Williamson Boulevard, opened for business. But most of them reserved their spots before last May. Many who arrived this week, mostly retirees, have been camping in the exact same location for years, or even decades.
“I like all the activity,” Dell Cook said of his spot near the entrance off Williamson. Cook has been coming to the same corner for 10 years. “All the haulers have to come by here to get in or out.”
Cook, of Bonita Springs, Fla., was happy to see his campsite dry this year. This time last year, it was under several inches of water. He’s camped at Daytona since 1964. He and his wife used to camp at several other race tracks as well, but now because of the economy and fuel prices, they’re limiting the camping to Atlanta Motor Speedway and Daytona.
For $575, or $525 if they register early, fans can camp outside Turns 1 and 2 from Feb. 1 to Feb. 21, the day after the Daytona 500. That price doesn’t include a view of the track or any race admissions, but it does give fans a convenient location on Speedway property.
The campsites are all roughly 20 feet by 40 feet.
“We take pride in our camping,” said Andrew Booth, Speedway spokesman. “We’ve won a Good Sam Welcome Mat award year after year for the most RV-friendly NASCAR event.”
The friendly atmosphere among campers is one of the things that Chris Eddy enjoys most about their three weeks of camping at the Speedway each year.
She and her husband, Bernie, camp across the road from Malcolm and Jackie Lowe of Arkansas. The couples struck up a friendship at the Speedway three years ago and now keep in touch all year long.
“Race fans are the nicest people,” Chris Eddy said.
As they set up their campsites this week, they know they can look forward to seeing other friends roll in any day. The Lowes have been camping at Speed Weeks for 33 years.
For Bernie Eddy, tanning in a lawn chair Friday, you can’t beat the weather. Back home in Michigan, 14 inches of snow fell this week.
“We never complain about the weather here,” his wife said.
However, her husband is ready if the temperature drops. Shortly after he arrived on Tuesday, Bernie Eddy had a truckload of firewood delivered from DeLand to burn in his small, portable fire pit. The wood was piled almost as high as his Chevy Trailblazer.
“It’s a month’s supply,” Eddy said. “We’ll use almost every stick.”
But besides visiting their neighbors and sitting around a campfire, what else do these campers do, with a week to go before the real action starts at the track?
They said they go to the beach, the Daytona Flea and Farmer’s Market, Blue Spring State Park and even as far south as the Dixie Crossroads restaurant in Titusville. And, Stan and Brenda Schupbach also take advantage of the racing action at the smaller local tracks, New Smyrna Speedway and the Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville.
But come the first day of racing at Daytona, the campers said they’ll be in the stands watching the races.
Chris Eddy said there’s nothing like “sitting in the stands and feeling that rumble under your feet.”