A Brief History Of NASCAR, Daytona and Bootlegging

Published: 17th June 2010
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You will doubtless have heard of NASCAR, but do you know what it means and how much do you know about it? In this short article I will give you a brief history of NASCAR.

NASCAR is an acronym for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Amazingly, it was started as a family business in 1947 by Bill France Sr. and is still family owned and family managed. It is by far the largest sanctioning business for stock car racing in the United States and the three chief racing series that it sanctions are: the Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series. In fact, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,500 races at more than a 100 race tracks in thirty-nine states.

For historical reasons which we will go into later, NASCAR's headquarters are in Florida, but its roots are firmly fixed in North Carolina, where it has no fewer than four regional offices. They are at Concord, Conover, Mooresville and Charlotte, where the vast majority of NASCAR teams are still located.

A few other surprising statistics about NASCAR are that NASCAR is viewed more often than any other sport in the United States with the one and only exception of professional football and it is broadcast in more than 150 countries world wide. NASCAR also organizes seventeen of the top twenty attended one-day sporting events in the world and its 75,000,000 devotees spend $3,000,000,000 annually on licensed products. This is such an remarkable show of allegiance, that more Fortune 500 businesses sponsor NASCAR than any other motor sport.

Daytona Beach became the headquarters of NASCAR more or less by luck, because in the Twenties and Thirties, Daytona was the most successful surface in the world for attaining new world land speed records. Until that time beaches in France and Belgium had been used, but maybe the wind on these Atlantic facing beaches was too unpredictable.

Anyway, eight consecutive world land speed records were set in Daytona between 1927 and 1935. Bonneville Salt Flats, Daytona Beach became associated with high speed cars and also became a magnet for racers and enthusiasts alike.

In fact, stock car racing has its roots in the moonshine running of the Prohibition years, when bootleggers ran their moonshine from the Appalachians down south to the consumers. The drivers tuned up their cars to avoid the police and became understandably proud of them. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, drivers still ran the moonshine, but this time it was to get out of paying duty.

By the late Forties, drivers of these tuned up cars were holding races between themselves. They were particularly popular in the Southern United States, principally in North Carolina. Bill France Sr. was an auto mechanic who moved from Washington DC to Daytona to sidestep the Great Depression in 1935 and the stage was set, the players were in place.

Bill France went in for the Daytona races in 1936 but only finished fifth. He took over running the race track in 1938 and began promoting races before the war. It was from there that he launched what was to become the huge family business called NASCAR that has employed most of his family ever since and given pleasure to many millions of fans worlwide for more than sixty years.

Owen Jones, the author of this article writes on quite a few subjects, but is at present involved with thinking about the Poconos International Raceway in Pennsylvania. If you would like to know more or check out some great offers, please go to our website at Poconos Vacations.

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