NASCAR Racing History

Working at Mosport for Rusty Wallace Racing Experience

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Getting the formula one racer ready for driver entry.Working with the paying customers learning to drive race cars with the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience.Driver getting on his safety helmet.Helping the driver get settled for the experience of track driving he's been waiting for.Last minute checks on the racer.Giving the formula one car and driver a push towards the track.Pushing the formula one racer for entry on the track
Getting the formula one racer ready for driver entry.
Getting the formula one racer ready for driver entry. | Source
Working with the paying customers learning to drive race cars with the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience.
Working with the paying customers learning to drive race cars with the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. | Source
Driver getting on his safety helmet.
Driver getting on his safety helmet.
Helping the driver get settled for the experience of track driving he's been waiting for.
Helping the driver get settled for the experience of track driving he's been waiting for.
Last minute checks on the racer.
Last minute checks on the racer. | Source
Giving the formula one car and driver a push towards the track.
Giving the formula one car and driver a push towards the track. | Source
Pushing the formula one racer for entry on the track
Pushing the formula one racer for entry on the track | Source

For my eldest son, we are fortunate to live near Mosport International Speedway near Clarington, Ontario Canada. Through connections of a close friend, my son was able to participate in the experience of a lifetime as part of the pit crew for a visiting organization, Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. As a 17 year old boy, cars are his passion and in his own words, "This was my dream job!" For a boy who gets out of bed by noon if we are lucky, Connor, who was also completing an on-line academic grade 11 math course at the time, got up at 6am every morning to catch a ride into work with my husband. He worked 8 to 12 hour days in extreme heat but came home always with a huge grin on his face. He changed tires, pumped gas and helped the participants, getting the race driving experience of their lifetime, into and out of the cars. He worked with stock cars and formula one racers. It was his experience at Mosport that prompted me to investigate the history of this sport. As well, I recently finished the novel by Kathy Reichs, Flash and Bones, which revolves around the world of NASCAR racing and the historical tidbits provided linking development of car racing with moonshine running piqued my interest.

Junior Johnston, former moonshine runner, race car driver and now team owner.
Junior Johnston, former moonshine runner, race car driver and now team owner. | Source

Race Track Quote

"Moonshiners put more time, energy, thought, and love into their cars than any racer ever will. Lose on the track, and you go home. Lose with a load of whiskey, and you go to jail." – Junior Johnson, NASCAR legend, and one time whiskey runner.

Moonshine and NASCAR

Moonshining finds its historical roots in the Scottish Highlands. Farmers there would use their excess grains such as corn to ferment into liquor. Fleeing high taxation on their 'whiskey' many fled to America bringing with them the art of 'moonshining'.

Moonshine and NASCAR history intertwined in the backroads of Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

  • This town was once considered to be the moonshine capital of the world.
  • During Prohibition, when alcohol was an illegal commodity, moonshiners in North Carolina would use common sedans to transport their still-produced moonshine to interested buyers.
  • Apprehension by the police was a constant danger, so they modified their vehicles for better speed and handling.
  • Many of the drivers got a taste for the thrill of the chase and driving at top speeds down twisty mountain roads.
  • Many started racing each other for fun.

More Race Track Quotes

When Junior Johnson was asked, 'Why moonshine?'

"It was a good life, very exciting and fun to be a part of," Johnson said. "We didn't do anything to hurt anyone, we just didn't want to pay taxes on the alcohol, and we wouldn't make any money."¹

"Johnston was known for his 'bootlegger turn,' where he would avoid roadblocks by jerking the wheel to one side and mashing the gas to spin the car 180 degrees and take off in the other direction."¹

  • The end of Prohibition did not end the demand for moonshine, however.
  • As a legal alcoholic commodity it became subject to taxation.
  • Now the drivers who continued "runnin'" shine needed to evade the revenuers.
  • They tinkered with their cars even more for more speed.
  • It was along these dirt roads of Wilkes County that these runners learned to become stock car racers by evading the tax men and by the friendly competition that arose among the drivers out for more thrills.
  • Junior Johnston, a legendary bootlegger continuing his family business in Wilkes, County North Carolina, became a successful racecar driver and team owner.

Areas of Interest to NASCAR Enthusiasts

show route and directions
A markerWilkes County North Carolina -
Wilkes County (UKF), North Wilkesboro, NC 28659, USA
[get directions]

Influenced NASCAR racing through moonshine bootleggers outrunning police and revenuers while tranporting illegal hooch.

B markerCharlotte Speedway, North Carolina -
Charlotte Motor Speedway Kart Track, 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027, USA
[get directions]

A lot of NASCAR racers set up shop in Charlotte, NC.

C markerDaytona International Speedway -
Daytona 500 Experience, 1801 W International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA
[get directions]

Many stock car enthusiasts still consider Daytona Beach as birthplace of stock car racing.

D markerChicago Speedway -
Chicagoland Speedway, 500 Speedway Blvd, Joliet, IL 60433, USA
[get directions]

Location of the first wooden built track and site of the first off-road stock car race in 1915.

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Daytona International Speedway.  Daytona Beach is considered by stock car enthusiasts as the birth-place of their sport.The 1914 Stevens-Duryea Touring Car was a high-priced limited production car from 1901 to 1927. It was a product of J. Frank Duryea, one of the early founders of the U.S. auto industry, and the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. of Massachusetts.Charlotte Speedway, located in North Carolina where moonshine runners developed a love of fast cars and racing.
Daytona International Speedway.  Daytona Beach is considered by stock car enthusiasts as the birth-place of their sport.
Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Beach is considered by stock car enthusiasts as the birth-place of their sport. | Source
The 1914 Stevens-Duryea Touring Car was a high-priced limited production car from 1901 to 1927. It was a product of J. Frank Duryea, one of the early founders of the U.S. auto industry, and the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. of Massachusetts.
The 1914 Stevens-Duryea Touring Car was a high-priced limited production car from 1901 to 1927. It was a product of J. Frank Duryea, one of the early founders of the U.S. auto industry, and the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. of Massachusetts. | Source
Charlotte Speedway, located in North Carolina where moonshine runners developed a love of fast cars and racing.
Charlotte Speedway, located in North Carolina where moonshine runners developed a love of fast cars and racing. | Source

The Birth of NASCAR

Auto racing began 5 minutes after the second car was built. – Henry Ford

  • Race cars have existed since the late 1800's and most were built to race at top speed.
  • J. Frank Duryea, in November 1895, driving a car of his own making, won a race starting from Chicago Illinois and finishing in Evanston, Illinois.
  • The packed sand beaches between Daytona and Ormond Beach was the site of the world-record automobile speed trials.
  • These speed trials began in 1905 and continued into the 1930's.
  • By the 1930's cars were reaching speeds close to 300 mph.
  • In the 1930's, driver's began racing family cars.
  • Stock cars, called this because they came directly from a car dealers' stock, are cars not modified specifically for racing.
  • Cars grew in popularity and mechanics began tinkering with the basic design to increase their speed.
  • The first race called a 'stock car' race was held in 1909 on 23 miles of the streets of Long Island, New York.

"France wanted an organization that would sanction and promote races, bring uniformity to race procedures plus technical rules. He wanted an association that would oversee a membership benefit and insurance fund, and one that would promise to pay postseason awards, and crown a single national champion using a clearly defined points system."²

Test Your Knowledge of NASCAR

  • The Chicago Speedway was the first specially built wooden track, built in 1915 to host the first off-road stock car race.
  • In the 1940's stock car racing had become extremely popular, especially in Southeastern states where tracks appeared all over.
  • In these early years, there were no schedules telling fans where their favourite drivers would be racing and safety rules were virtually non-existent.
  • After the speed trials left Daytona Beach for the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Daytona Beach area officials wanted to bring back to their area speed-related events.
  • To this day, Daytona Beach is still regarded by stock car enthusiasts as the birthplace of their sport.
  • Bill France Sr. got his start in race promotions, in late 1935, through this avenue.
  • Races which followed were poorly organized leading to bad feelings among drivers and promoters.
  • It soon became apparent to France that an official organization was required to provide uniform rules for automobile racing.
  • Bill France Sr., a driver and racing promoter, did not like the lack of organization and haphazard way of running a sport which predominated car racing to this point.
  • In 1948, France founded NASCAR - the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing - was born.

Resources Used

Buckley Jr., James. DK Eyewitness Books: NASCAR. 2005

²Decades of Racing.net. NASCAR History "The Beginning"

Johnstone, Mike. NASCAR The Need for Speed. 2001

¹Swan, Raygan. Nascar.com. A day with Junior Johnson: Moonshine, ham'n stories. October 11, 2007.


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Comments 11 comments

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 4 years ago from Northern, California

Great historical read on the NASCAR phenomenon! What an exciting experience for a 17 year old boy! You've just gotta' love Junior Johnson. Who new moonshine would be linked into one of the worlds most fan appreciated events!? It makes perfect sense after reading the history of NASCAR here! The pictures of your son and the crew must be magic memories for you both. Good stuff!

HubHugs~


theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

I really love the history behind NASCAR and that Duryea pic is awesome! Congrats to your son for the true experience of a lifetime! :^) Voted up and interesting.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

K9 and clevercat, I just had to do this hub after watching my son at work with these cars. And seeing him work tirelessly, waking up early and working long hours but looking forward to every moment on the track it made me appreciate why all these guys are so fanatical about their profession. Thanks for commenting ladies and glad I imparted some of the excitement!


alissaroberts profile image

alissaroberts 4 years ago from Normandy, TN

So cool that your son got to experience working with the Rusty Wallace team at 17 years old! That will really make an impressive addition to his future resume! I also really enjoyed learning the history and some fun facts behind NASCAR. Never heard about the moonshine link and find that fascinating. Fantastic hub Teresa - voted up, awesome, and interesting!


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

He is hoping to go back and work with the crew again at the end of the summer. He face beams any time he talks about it. He's hoping it may spiral to future work on the track! Thanks for the vote up! Much appreciated.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

Wow, I have a husband who would love to do something like this! He isn't a football or baseball type of guy but he LOVES cars. I loved learning about the connection between NASCAR and moonshine as well. Very thorough hub.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Yeah I have a car fanatic for a husband as well. We should get them together sometime as he wasn't the football or baseball type either. I have to admit my hubbie was pretty envious of his son but so proud when he got to see him in action. Glad you enjoyed the read Cara. It was a pleasure to write and research!


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

A great history. Thanks for the knowledge.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

my pleasure aviannovice, it was a fun history to compile.


jericho911 profile image

jericho911 3 years ago from Ohio

This is an awesome hub. I'm a Nascar fan, so it was quite a nice treat to read this article. I cheer for the Toyota #18, so don't hold it against me.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

glad you enjoyed the hub! we have Toyota's in our driveway so no offence taken. my oldest son is working on a pit crew again this weekend at our local racetrack. he is super excited!

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