It was in 1972, the second year of my life as a racing journalist, that I first went to Daytona, there to see AJ Foyt win the fabled 500, and ever since I've savoured my visits there, even though I tired of the 500 once it had become a 'restrictor plate' race.
Richard Petty, one of my heroes, told me some years ago that he felt the same way. "On restarts it's painful, isn't it?" he said. "I mean, the cars don't accelerate - they just kind of pick up momentum."
If my interest in the 500 therefore declined over time, the Daytona 24 Hours is a different matter. I saw it for the first time in 2009, and it became an instant favourite, not least because, as Chip Ganassi says, "It's like a harbinger of spring". After a long off-season, racing people are glad to see each other again, and, as well as that, of course, a dose of Florida sun in January never goes amiss, although sadly this year it was in short supply.