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Daytona Beach: Sun, Fun and Film

Given its dual reputation as a haven for NASCAR fans and a popular spring break Mecca, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the movies shot in Daytona Beach have either a racing theme or a party hijinks flavor. Still, there are a few exceptions, including an Academy Award-winning drama. Check out some of the titles and filming locations associated with Daytona Beach:

  • Monster (2003) – The true story of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became the nation’s first female serial killer. A harrowing and violent film that starred Charlize Theron (who won an Oscar) as Wuornos and Christina Ricci as her friend and lover. Shot at various locations around Daytona, including Daytona International Speedway.
  • Days of Thunder (1990) – Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise), a hot driver with a hot temper, enters the high-pressure world of NASCAR racing. His attitude gets him into trouble not only with other drivers, but with members of his own team as well. Filmed at Daytona International Speedway, along with Horizon Condo and Top of Daytona.

“Days of Thunder” Trivia

Some footage for the movie was shot during the actual 1990 Daytona 500. Two additional cars were added to the rear of the field for the express purpose of shooting them for the film. They were not officially scored and left the track after 100 miles. At one point in the race, leader Dale Earnhardt even lapped the movie cars.

  • Miami Connection (1987) – Lambasted by critics and ignored by audiences when originally released, “Miami Connection” went on to become a popular “midnight movie” decades later. Co-written and co-directed by Y.K. Kim (a 9th degree black belt, author and inspirational speaker), the film tells the story of fearless synth rock band Dragon Sound as they embark on a roundhouse wreck-wave of crime-crushing justice on the streets of… Orlando!
  • Lauderdale (1989) – A raunchy teen comedy that’s also known as “Spring Break U.S.A.” After college student Larry rescues a rich woman from being kidnapped, she offers him the best reward ever…but Larry’s luck takes a turn for the worse when the kidnappers return before he can cash in! Lots of gross-out humor and naked bodies populate this largely forgettable film.
  • Red Line 7000 (1965) – Ostensibly a racing picture – it was partially filmed at Daytona International Speedway – “Red Line 7000” is more accurately described as a romantic drama. It is the story of three drivers and three women, who constantly have to worry for the lives of their boyfriends. The film was directed by the legendary Howard Hawks and starred a young James Caan.
  • Thunder Alley (1967) – One of several high-speed flicks directed by Richard Rush and a rare Annette Funicello pic that doesn’t also star Frankie Avalon (this one’s got Fabian instead). Stock car racer Tommy Callahan is forced to join a “thrill circus” after his blackouts cause a fatal accident that gets him thrown off the circuit. Tommy shows the owner’s daughter Francie and her boyfriend Eddie everything he knows about driving. After winning the first time out, Eddie takes up with Tommy’s girl – and they become fierce rivals by the next race.
  • The Sleepy Time Gal (2001) – Frances (Jacqueline Bisset) has enjoyed a variety of jobs during her adult life and is the mother of two sons, each by a different husband. She also gave birth to a daughter following an affair she had with a married man, but was forced to give up the baby for adoption. Frances attempts to search for the child she gave away, unaware that her lost daughter, who is now a corporate lawyer (Martha Plimpton), is conducting her own search for her missing birth mother. Part of her search takes her to a Daytona Beach radio station where Frances worked years ago as a late-night disc jockey.
  • The Speed Lovers (1968) – It’s what southern drive-in films are all about: rock music, gorgeous gals, wooden acting and plenty of stock footage. A stock car racer gets involved with gangsters trying to fix a race. Written by, directed by and starring William F. McGaha.
  • Senior Week (1987) — Everett and his party-hungry buddies embark on an all-night road-trip to the Florida beaches, for a week of fun, sun and beautiful women. Mayhem ensues when two jealous girlfriends show up unexpectedly, along with a psycho teacher who’s hunting down Everett because he owes her an overdue term paper. About the only thing worth recommending with this silly entry in the sun-and-skin genre is that all of the beach scenes were filmed in Daytona.

Daytona Beach Movie Trivia

A key historical scene in the movie “42” takes place in Daytona Beach, but wasn’t filmed there. In 1946, Daytona Beach became the first city in Florida that allowed Jackie Robinson – then a member of the Montreal Royals, a minor-league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers – to play during spring training (at City Island Ball Park)… after both Sanford and Jacksonville had invoked segregation laws. Although City Island Ball Park still exists – it was renamed in Robinson’s honor in 1990, and added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1998 – it was not used in the film because it has been modernized and no longer looks like it did in 1946. The City Island scenes in “42” were shot in Macon, Georgia.

So no matter whether you go in for high speed or low comedy, chances are, a flick that tickles your fancy was shot in Daytona Beach. To plan your trip to check out filming sites in Daytona Beach or any of our other 40+ cinematic destinations, drop us a line at

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