NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and is the second most popular sport in the United States—just behind football. It remains a family operated and owned business and has a deep history. Understanding that will help many understand why NASCAR still holds a deep place in the hearts of Americans.
The Founding of NASCAR
Bill France, Sr. founded the sport between 1947 and 1948. However, the sport dates before that to between the 1900s and 1930s. Daytona Beach, Florida, became the best place for setting land speed records around the world with 15 records set from 1905 to 1925. It soon became the location for the fast and racing cars and makes sense that it is the home of the NASCAR headquarters.
The stock car racing originally started due to bootlegging during the period of Prohibition when the drivers would run the bootleg whiskey to other parts of the United States. The cars often needed to be modified so that high speeds could be reached to avoid the police. The cars were also modified for better handling and being able to take larger cargos. When the Prohibition came to an end in 1933, some business dried up except for the moonshine runs to avoid taxes. The cars continued to be modified.
Bill France Moves to Daytona Beach
The founder of NASCAR, Bill France Sr., moved from Washington, DC to Daytona Beach during the Great Depression in 1935. In 1936, he entered a racing event and finished fifth and from 1938 he started running the course. He believed that people would enjoy watching the racing cars but the drivers were often left unpaid due to the unscrupulous promoters. In 1947, France decided it was time to set some rules to see the sport grow. He set up an organized championship, regular schedule and standard rules that all would follow. NASCAR was officially set up on February 21, 1948.
The first race held was at Charlotte Speedway—not the same Charlotte Motor Speedway track known today. Jim Roper won the race on June 19, 1949 and the sport grew from there.
The rules have since developed, starting with no modifications allowed to the set rules created today. Many of those rules were for safety, not just performance! The sport continues to grow. Every year, the officials decide on new rules for the racing cars.