10 Interesting NASCAR facts
There are over 75 million NASCAR fans in the United States, and over 6 million of them will attend races each year. The sport of auto racing and NASCAR in particular has steadily grown in popularity over the years, and is now as big as ever.
An interesting fact about NASCAR, they have their biggest race of the season at the beginning. After the first of the year, the anticipation starts building for the start of the racing season. For the next month and a half, the tension builds until the big day for the Daytona 500 arrives, and the new racing season is off and running.
The first two Daytona 500 races were not 500 miles. The race didn't become 500 miles until 1961. The first race in 1959 was won by Lee Petty, Richard Petty's father. The race winner was originally said to be Johnny Beauchamp. After reviewing the film and photos for 3 days, the winner was declared to be Lee Petty. The photo finish camera at the time was at track level, 3 cars were side by side at the finish line which made it hard to determine the winner.
In 2001 Daytona was won by Michael Waltrip, 2nd place was Dale Earnhardt Jr, running in third place on the final turn of the final lap was Dale Earnhardt senior when he crashed and was killed. Dale Earnhardt senior was the owner of 2 of the 3 cars.
The National Association for stock car auto racing (NASCAR) ran it's first official race on June 19 1949 at Charlotte North Carolina fairgrounds. In front of a crowd of 23,000 fans. Jim Roper won the race and the $2,000 purse, driving a Lincoln Cosmopolitan. The next 4 finishers were, Fonty Flock who took second, Red Byron finished third, Sam Rice finished fourth, and Tim Flock finished fifth. Other well known drivers in the race including Lee Petty, Curtis Turner, and Buck Baker.
Lee Petty was the first driver to crash in a Winston cup race. He crashed at lap 107 in that first race at Charlotte on June 19 1949.
The first driver to run a race over 250 miles, and lead start to finish was Daniel Dieringer in April 1967 at North Wilkesboro speedway.
Richard Petty is credited with inventing the window net to help keep drivers arms inside the car to avoid injuries during a crash.
The King, Richard Petty, won 200 NASCAR races in his career. He won 7 stock car championships, won Daytona 7 times and is still to this day known as the greatest driver in in the history of NASCAR.
Michael Waltrip holds the record for the most starts without a win. When he won the tragic 2001 Daytona 500, it was his first win and the 463 start of his NASCAR racing career.
Dick Trickle was rookie of the year in 1989 at the age of 48 years old. He never won a Winston cup race, but he had 5 3rd place finishes, 14 top 5 finishes and 32 top 10 finishes. All this was after having raced for 31 years in short track racing, and although it can't be verified, he is said to have won over 1200 feature races.
In 1976 Janet Guthrie became the first woman to compete in a Winston Cup race. She finished 15th in the wold 600 race. She also qualified for the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in in the same year of 1977.
The sport of auto racing in big and will keep growing. Of all auto racing NASCAR is by far the biggest. It generates hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue for hundreds of different industries.
Fans love NASCAR for the competition, the personalities of the drivers, and also for the crashes. There are not many things more spectacular than seeing what happens when cars crash at over 200 miles per hour. Below is a video of some of the best crashes of the 2011 season.
If you are a fan, good for you, if you're not a fan, you should check it out and see what all the excitement is all about.