DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The doors of the ISC Archives and Research Center were opened to the news media last week, and it offered a fascinating trip through NASCAR history.
The center, which is operated under the auspices of Daytona International Speedway, is a treasure trove of living stock-car history, from trophies to film clips to photos to promotional materials of years past. It is tucked away on a side street across International Speedway Boulevard from the World Center of Racing in a building that is the third incarnation of the archives, which were started in the 1940s.
It primarily serves the motorsports industry and media, emphasizing NASCAR and IMSA materials. NASCAR Productions in Charlotte, N.C., also has digitized its vast collection of film from past decades.
There also is a museum section that is showcased to fans as part of the speedway’s VIP tours (which are offered three times weekly; it’s not open to the public otherwise). A main hall has rotating themed displays that focus on upcoming events at Daytona such as the Rolex 24, Daytona 500 and Bike Week.
More than four million photos, several hundred trophies and thousands of publications (including rulebooks, media guides and clippings) are housed at the center (much of the video is in a climate-controlled vault), and many are loaned to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.. There also is a garage that houses the car driven by Marvin Panch to the 1961 Daytona 500 victory. Panch is a frequent visitor to the archives.
This summer, the center will re-create the office of NASCAR founder Bill France, whose biography, “Big Bill, The Life and Times of NASCAR Founder Bill France Sr., recently was written by Archives and Research Center caretaker Herb Branahm, who also is a senior manager of Daytona’s PR team.
Here are some photos taken during last week’s visit: