Diggin' In at Daytona

Daytona International Speedway is several miles from the beach -- but when they first started racing stock cars in Daytona, half the course was actually on the beach. That may be why sand sculpture is part of the scene during Speedweek.


Suzanne Altamare of Daytona Beach and Carl Jara of Cleveland update their sculptures every day during Speedweeks. (Mike Snyder - washingtonpost.com)


This year, the speedway has trucked tons of sand into the infield Fan Zone, a first, since the sand sculpting had been done in front of the track. That's just fine with Suzanne Altamare of Daytona Beach, who's been sculpting sand at the speedway for 24 years. This year she's been sculpting different racing-themed sand castles every day.

Suzanne got into sand sculpting with her husband, Marc, who did it for 30 years until he passed away from cancer four years ago. "He was a wild one," she says. "He took his '79 Lincoln around the speedway one year. Got in big trouble for that," she recounts with a smile.

It seems to me that setting up outside would be more fan-friendly, since you wouldn't need special access to check out the art. But Suzanne's web site says she's happy with the setup.

She's not alone in sculpting this year. Carl Jara, an award-winning artist who's been working in the medium for 15 years, has flown in from Cleveland to join Suzanne for the week.

The sand isn't from Daytona Beach, though. Soft sand sculpture requires a special type of sand. Suzanne says the stuff they're using was actually trucked in from central Florida. Ah, well, you get the effect at least.

Suzanne's got a special car made of sand on the side of the sculpture. She'll change the number on the car's door for any fan who asks. I had her do up a number for me. I guess I don't have to tell you which one it was.

Both Suzanne and Carl have Web sites. Here's where you can find them online:

Suzanne: http://justplainsand.com

Carl: http://www.artcleveland.com/sandhome.htm


By Mike Snyder |  February 17, 2006; 4:05 PM ET  | Category:  Daytona Scene , Miscellaneous
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