The History of NASCAR
NASCAR stands for The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
NASCAR. It's not for everybody. It has been a staple in my house for close to twenty years now. Some years I've been more into it than others but I always keep up with it somehow. Whether it's watching it on TV or following it on the internet, I always make sure I know where my favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is. I also like to know where my two most despised drivers, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson, are. My husband is a Kyle Busch fan so he likes to taunt me when he's doing better than Junior, and vice versa.
Some argue that NASCAR is just cars going around in a circle. "They're making a left turn! They're making another left turn! Oooooh, they're making another left turn!" And while that may be true, it's also a sport that gets your adrenaline going. Have you ever seen a green-white-checker? They can be nail biters. I've been there. Have you seen "The Big One"? Meaning the big wreck of the day? They can be scary and you pray that no one is hurt but the adrenaline is still pumping. And if you are so lucky to be there at the track to see the race live, to smell the burning rubber, to hear the engines roar, to see the cars...it is awesome.
But I'm not here to persuade you to become a NASCAR fan, I'm just here to tell you about the history!
The Early Days
Stock car racing in the US has it's roots in boot legging during the Prohibition. Drivers mainly ran bootleg whiskey in the Appalachian region of the US. They needed fast, quick ways to get their illegal liquor out to people and get away from the cops so they modified their cars for speed and handling, as well as increased cargo capacity.
Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and it "dried up" the business some. Southerners had developed a taste for whiskey by then, though, so a number of drivers continued running shine, just this time they tried to evade the revenuers that were trying to tax their operations.
Junior Johnson, seen in the picture over to the upper right, learned to drive at the very young age of eight, to run shine. He became one of the best NASCAR drivers later on, starting his career in the early 1950s and ending in the late 1960s. He was also an owner. Funny enough, he now has his own moonshine company. This time it's legal.
The Founding of NASCAR
The date was March 8, 1936. The location was Daytona Beach, Florida. A collection of drivers gathered. They brought different kinds of cars - convertibles, coupes, hardtops, and sports cars - to compete in an event to determine the best drivers and fastest cars. This race was run on sand. The heaviest cars got bogged down in the sand, while the lightest ones did not. Driver Milt Marion was crowned champion and a young Bill France was the 5th place winner.
The young Bill France saw something in this.
By 1947, he saw the potential for a unified series of racing competitors. He announced "National Championship Stock Car Series", or NCSSC. In hopes of getting some sort of financial backing for the venture he was making, he went to the AAA (otherwise know as the American Automobile Association), but they said, "no thank you." So France then proceeded to set rules and awards for the NCSSC. France declared that the winner of the 1947 NCSSC season would receive $1000.00, and a trophy. The season would begin in January 1947 at the Daytona Beach track, and conclude in Jacksonville the following December. (cited from Wikipedia)
With the help of several other drivers, NASCAR was founded by Bill France, Sr. on February 21, 1948. At that time, the points system was written on a bar room napkin (sometimes I wonder if it still is...) Original plans included three divisions: modified, roadster, and strictly stock. The roadster series was quickly abandoned, as it wasn't as popular as the other two divisions. The modified division still operates, but it is now known as the Whelen Modified Tour (which I'm not gonna lie, I don't know anything about it.)
Sprint Cup Series
(AKA the only series that matters to me so it'll be the last thing I focus on.)
Sprint Cup is the highest level of competition. It is also the most popular and most profitable of the series. (The series consists of: Sprint, Nationwide, Camping World Truck series, Canadian Tire Series, Corona Series, Racecar Euro Series, and Regional Racing Series.)
The Cup series had it's first sponsor in 1972. That sponsor was R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. RJR Tobacco Company had been banned from advertising on television (since smoking is bad for you) and it made a lot of people angry that they were sponsoring NASCAR, so the Grand National Series became known as the Winston Cup Series. It was known as the Winston Cup series from 1971 to 2003.
In 2004, the Winston Cup Series became known as the Nextel Cup Series, when Nextel took over sponsorship. Nextel also installed a new points system - "The Chase For the Nextel Cup", which saw the points resetting with ten races to go, making only drivers in the top ten or within 400 points of the leader eligible to win the championship. (cited from Wikipedia) In 2007, they added two more spots to "The Chase" - making it twelve, not ten.
In 2008, as a result of a merger of Nextel and Sprint, the series became known as The Sprint Cup Series. In 2011, they added a number of rule changes. (They have rules changes every year. Hard to keep track sometimes.)
The NASCAR Hall Of Fame
The following men have been inducted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, located in Charlotte, NC.
Inducted in 2010:
- Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (1951-2001)
- Bill France, Sr. (1909-2002)
- Bill France, Jr. (1933-2007)
- Junior Johnson
- Richard Petty
Inducted in 2011:
- Bobby Allison
- Ned Jarrett
- Bud Moore
- David Pearson
- Lee Petty (1914-2000)
Inducted in 2012:
- Richie Evans (1941-1985)
- Dale Inman
- Darrell Waltrip
- Glen Wood
- Cale Yarborough
Inducted in 2013:
- Buck Baker (1919-2002)
- Cotton Owens
- Herb Thomas (1923-2000)
- Rusty Wallace
- Leonard Wood
And a funny for you
© 2012 Jamie Sykes