NASCAR has been more than just a professional sport in the United States of America. For auto enthusiasts, it is a fest of car makes and models that will never be seen in the mainstream market; for speed junkies, it is the ultimate platform for racing into the sunset; for the business moguls, it is an immense business venture reaping millions of dollars in profits; for the sponsors, it is an opportunity to be seen on the biggest stage in the country; for the broadcasting companies, it is a multi-billion dollar industry littered with huge viewing audiences; and for the idealists in all of us it represents something magical and so unique, that the possibility of it ever being emulated is next to nothing.
NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Thousands of people flock to watch the races, and millions more watch from their homes, as the best drivers in the country go head-to-head in a blistering paced racing season that really sets your pulse racing. The history itself is so unique and one of a kind, that simply hearing about it has the ability to get a sentimental flutter in the coldest hearts.
Let us first see what stock cars mean exactly. Since the coinage of the term 'stock cars', it has been used to refer to cars that have not been modified in any manner. Auto racing requires cars to be modified in order to go faster, and to meet several safety standards; but stock cars revolutionized this concept. Cars fresh out of the factories were used for racing purposes, and absolutely no modifications were permitted to be made on them. Race cars are a stark contrast to this, as they are specially designed and created in order to race.
Stock cars today however, are distant cousins of their original predecessors. They are specifically modified versions of the vehicles that are designed for the sole purpose of racing. The ironic thing though is that these modified cars are technically inferior to the same designs and models that are produced for the road.
History and Origin
NASCAR is a family operated business that began its operation in 1948, and was founded by Bill France Sr, who was a hardcore racing enthusiast. The headquarters is located in Daytona Beach, Florida and the story behind its inception is a rather strange one. Starting from the early 1920s, Daytona Beach became the most coveted area across the world to set land speed records, owing to its long picturesque roads. Building up slowly, the area came to be known as the most likely place for fast cars, as more and more people flocked there to participate in small time races, or to view the cars on show there. Pretty soon the racing circuit in the region became more and more popular, and started gaining degrees of officialdom. The prize money on offer also started rising, and soon enough it was a million dollar business, that held immense potential for profits.
Stock car racing can also be traced back to the Prohibition period in the late 1920s. Illegal smugglers of moonshine and bootleg whiskey used to transport their goods in cars that were modified to evade the police. The love for fast cars was an integral part of the history, as these smugglers soon started organizing races to see who had the fastest car. The confluence of this factor, with the popularity of the Daytona Beach course contributed to the birth of NASCAR.
Bill France Sr. and The History of NASCAR
Here was the architect of NASCAR, and being a driver himself, he organized a meet of the fastest and most reputable drivers from around the area. He soon started running the course, after moving there from Washington DC in 1935, to escape the effects of the Great Depression. Seeing great potential for the establishment of a standardized and unified racing union in the area, he worked to build and promote a nationwide movement that would culminate in the best races held in the area. By 1948, the circuit had officially begun functioning, and the rest as they say is history.
This is just a brief look into the history, as it would be impractical to divulge the entire timeline of the sport here. Today there are primarily 3 racing series that are organized by NASCAR - The Nationwide Series, The Sprint Cup, and The Camping World Truck Series. Along with these, there are numerous other races and events that cover the entire span of the country. This history has enabled it to always appear appealing to auto enthusiasts, and it only gets stronger with each passing year.