The End Of An Era: Coke Zero 400’s Last Independence Day Ride

Posted by Karen Erdelac on Jun 28, 2019

The Coke Zero 400 was originally called the firecracker 250 and took place on July 4th, 1959. For 60 years race fans have watched the race in Daytona over Independence day weekend. This year will be the last year that the Coke Zero 400 will take place at this time, next year the race will be held August 29th. Here are a few fun facts about the race and its history.

  • After Fireball Roberts won both the DAYTONA 500 and Coke Zero 400 in 1962, Cale Yarborough and LeeRoy Yarbrough closed out the decade in historic fashion with each claiming a DAYTONA Double. It remains the only time in history that the feat has been accomplished in back-to-back.

  • In 1969 a tradition was started that invites all surviving medal of honor recipients to the race each year.

  • President Ronald Reagan, the first sitting U.S. President to attend a NASCAR race, delivered the starting command from Air Force One, and then witnessed Richard Petty claim his 200th and final career victory.

  • In 1998 the race was actually postponed due to wildfires. It was supposed to take place on July 4th, and instead took place in October.

  • In 2008 the race became the Coke Zero 400, which had previously been sponsored by Pepsi.

Many are sad to see the race change in date because they enjoy spending the holiday in Daytona at the beach. “This is significant for this to be the last July 4th race ever at Daytona,” said 2017 Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch at Wednesday’s Coke Zero 400 media day. “I’m sad to see it go. It’s a tough date that all of us in NASCAR will have to adjust to. We’ll have to get used to going somewhere different and not being able to spend a holiday weekend at the beach in Daytona.”


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