You will no doubt 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. Surprisingly, 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 organization for stock car racing in the United States and the three chief racing series that it approves 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 more remarkable statistics about NASCAR are that NASCAR is watched more often than any other sport in the United States with the sole exception of professional football and it is televised in over 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 companies sponsor NASCAR than any other motor sport.
Daytona Beach became the headquarters of NASCAR more or less by default, because in the Twenties and Thirties, Daytona was the most successful surface in the world for achieving new world land speed records. Previously beaches in France and Belgium had been used, but maybe the wind on these Atlantic facing beaches was too erratic.
Anyway, eight successive world land speed records were established 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 too.
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 hotted up their cars to avoid the police and became understandably proud of them. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, drivers still ran the moonshine, but now it was to get out of paying duty.
By the late Forties, drivers of these tuned up cars were organizing races amongst themselves. They were particularly popular in the Southern United States, above all in North Carolina. Bill France Sr. was an auto mechanic who moved from Washington DC to Daytona to avoid 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 began what was to become the massive family business called NASCAR that has employed most of his family ever since and given enjoyment to many millions of fans worldwide for more than sixty years.