#TBT The History of NASCAR
The history of NASCAR stems back to the time of Prohibition, moonshine, and its runners, who were the daredevils brave enough to transport the bootlegged moonshine from here to there. Running moonshine successfully meant outrunning the law, and outrunning the law meant having a souped-up car that was faster than theirs. For bragging rights and to gain notoriety, runners would hold unofficial races on nearby highways. Eventually, someone came up with the ingenious idea to cut a race track out of a cow pasture, and the sport of racing was born.
By the end of the 1940s, those highway and cow pasture car races evolved into an organized sport, largely due to the efforts of one man, William France, Sr., or Big Bill France, as he’s more commonly known. France was a mechanic that moved to Daytona Beach, Florida from Washington, D.C. in 1935 to escape the Great Depression. Upon moving, he was well aware that Daytona Beach was known for its racing and land speed record attempts. France entered the 1936 Daytona race event and finished fifth. He took over running the course in 1938 and even promoted a few races before World War II.
France knew that people enjoyed watching stock cars races, but he also knew that the sport would not survive unless a formal sanction was created. During that time, drivers were frequently victimized by dishonest promoters who would leave events without paying the drivers. On December 14, 1947 France organized a meeting including the most influential drivers, car owners, mechanics, and promoters. The meeting took place at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida. The group discussed forming standardized rules, regular schedules, and an organized championship. That very meeting ended with the formation of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing; NASCAR. Two months later, on February 15, 1948, the first official NASCAR race was held on the beach in Daytona. A week later, NASCAR was incorporated and Big Bill France was appointed as its leader.
There are still some old moonshiners involved with NASCAR today, including ex-racer, Junior Johnson, but the sport’s illicit past has transformed into a well-respected spectator event, second only to the National Football League.