ORMOND BEACH -- Salty sea air has all but destroyed two replicas of historic beach racecars at the Birthplace of Speed Park on State Road A1A.
The deteriorating sculptures of Ransom E. Olds "Pirate" and Alexander Winton's "Bullet" were removed several years ago, leaving the city with little in the way of markers for its claim to fame as the 19th century playground for the first beach races.
The original wooden Ormond Garage, which catered to the early speedsters, burned in 1976, and all that's left at 113 E. Granada Blvd., is a small plaque marking the site.
But efforts to salvage the Pirate and Bullet replicas by Motor Racing Heritage Association -- a group dedicated to preserving the early racing history -- are meeting with success. And plans to build a weatherproof miniature of the Ormond Garage are moving forward to house them.
With approval already in place from Leisure Services and Quality of Life boards, an early nod from the City Commission, and a donated architectural design, the group is tasked now with raising $65,000 to build it.
"This will be exactly on the site where the replica cars used to be -- the very same footprint, east of the coastal construction line," said Suzanne Heddy, director of the Ormond Beach Historical Society and a Motor Racing Heritage Association board member.
Creating a replica garage to house the statues is the perfect solution, Heddy said.
"The importance of the Ormond Garage can't be overstated," she said. It was built in 1904 to accommodate the millionaires coming to the Ormond Hotel to test their mettle in their cars on the beach."
Robert Carolin, the city's director of leisure services, said the project is worthwhile.
"They don't have the dollars to support it, so they have got to go out and raise the funds," Carolin said. "That park is a city-owned park with a joint-use agreement (with Volusia County). The county manages the beach approach, but the city maintains the park."
The architectural design for the 17-by-20-foot structure was done by Hawkins Hall & Ogle of Daytona Beach.
"What we were tasked to do was to come up with a scaled-down replica of the original garage, built to house the two replica racers, strictly for people to look at through the windows," said David Ogle, who worked on the design. "It will be built to code with hurricane windows and low maintenance, using maintenance-free materials."
Ogle, a structural engineer, will complete the plans. Ormond Beach Chief Building Official Joe Levrault said he has not seen any plans yet.
"It will be a basic plan review," he said.
Hall Construction has been contracted to build the garage.
"It's probably a 60 to 90 day project at most," said Dennis Hall.
Restoration of the Bullet sculpture has been donated by Randy Crabtree, owner of Randy's Body Shop.
"I spent 400 hours so far," he said. I remade the chassis with $1,500 worth of materials. I tried to duplicate the way they did it originally," Crabtree said. "Ben's Paint Supply of Daytona Beach donated the paint."
Dan Smith, a member of the board of directors for the racing heritage group, said the Pirate is in storage at the city works building and also will eventually need to be restored.
"There are grants available and help in place, but we are going to need to raise the money (for the garage), and we are hoping to come up with the $65,000, although we are happy to get donated supply sources and materials."