Difficult to forecast what will be the attendance during the next 10 days. Economy is not the only factor. Weather too. Not only in Daytona, but also up-north where a brutal winter may incite many to flee for some sun and fun. Historically very snowy winters are good for Daytona Bike Week. But in this economy context and with the US northeast completely paralyzed, will it be true again? Here the forecast in Daytona is quite chilly for the season with temperatures ranging from 38 F to 62 F but mostly sunny skies (except possibility of rain tomorrow Saturday).
Anyway, like during the last 4 years, hotel vacancy signs can be seen everywhere, from Ormond Beach to Smyrna Beach and from Daytona to Orlando. Evidently, not because of lack of interest for all things motorcycle. So many during the last weeks told me about their frustration of not being able to make it… Do you remember the time when we had to reserve our rooms 1 year in advance?
Driving up and down A1A you can’t avoid to notice the number of merchants and hotels closed down and boarded due to foreclosures. Quite depressing. A couple of friends from Europe tell me that they are shocked by this observation and that it looks worse that what they imagined from their local countries. So, what’s new this year? A resurgence of Daytona Beach Street and of its Riverfront Park. In big part you can thank Harley-Davidson Motor Company for giving back some “motorcycle life” to a place called “Custom Lane” until 2004 and turned into “Tee-shirts & Sunglasses Alley” during the last 5 years. Harley-Davidson doesn’t show anymore its new models and parts at the Ocean Center (replaced by the Cycle World International World Motorcycle Show), and moved its semi trucks downtown to the Riverfront Park. Indian Motorcycle is not too far away, their show truck and new models sitting front of their new Daytona dealership.
Consequent to Harley-Davidson move, the official Harley Ride-In Show to benefit MDA on Wednesday March 3rd will happen for the 1st time on Beach Street (registration from 9am to noon, 14 judging categories, awards at 4pm handed out by Willie G.). To visit vendors and custom builders, the 3 other poles of attractions are the International Speedway, the Limpnickie Lot in Daytona South on Ridgewood Avenue and of course Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson in Ormond Beach getting extra animation thanks to a Rat’s Hole multi-event at the Coca Cola Pavilion. Destination Daytona remains the magnet that seems to attract each biker in town for at least one visit during each rally. And for those loving racing, the 69th Daytona 200, the prestigious season-opening event to the AMA Pro Racing season will be held at night on Friday night, March 5th. The Daytona Supercross, will be held on Saturday night, March 6th.
Some vendors and most media representatives I know, and I know them all, are on a budget and will arrive in Daytona only on Monday or Tuesday… So, Bike Week seems to return to a 1 week long event. Because of the economic times we are living, it may be better this way, making the event less costly and more profitable for all those who participate as professionals. More to come after most vendors are set up at their displays, hopefully this evening.