A Short History of Stock Car Racing


Stock car racing has been an American pastime for quite some time. Unlike other sports that were created in ancient times, it has unique American roots. Since its inception during the days of prohibition, it’s been popular with the masses. From the 1920s to the late 1940s, it was a great source of entertainment. When the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) was formed in 1948, it gave congruency to the sport making stock car racing a well-managed sport.

Today, NASCAR is one of the sports that attract many spectators in the United States. Research shows that its popularity is continually growing, and about 40% of its fan base is composed of women. Not many sports have women as their spectators.

Stock car racing was initially a contest between vehicles that hadn’t been modified from their original factory build. However, with the changing technology, an introduction of oil such as PEAK HD, the sport has evolved. Nowadays, the vehicle steel retains their semi-stock build but have a different hood.

NASCAR has tried to keep the integrity of the original stock car racing sport. In the 1970s, when the “aero wars” pitted two automotive giants against each other, NASCAR came in to level the playing field by laying down ground rules and restrictions for all cars. Besides that, it also made some safety changes because as technology advanced and the cars could move faster, speed posed a great danger.

The Role Of Prohibition In Stock Car Racing

In 1920, an amendment was made banning the possession and production of alcohol, thus officially beginning prohibition. However, drinking alcohol wasn’t illegal, and people went ahead and made a liquor popularly called moonshine. As law enforcers tried to maintain this amendment, alcohol manufacturers had to be cunning about their industry. To transport this illegal liquor, they had to get vehicles that wouldn’t attract attention and quickly blend.

They began transporting alcohol using their cars at night and calling themselves “moon runners.” Unfortunately, they couldn’t outrun the police. So they began modifying their cars.

Alcohol producers would take ordinary vehicles and modify them slightly to enable them to reach high speeds. The vehicles maintained their look on the roads but could now beat law enforcers. As a result, moon runners always bragged about their success and boasted of making trips at night on dirt roads at more than 194km/hour without headlights.

Soon, as a pastime activity and celebration of their exploits, the producers started racing on weekends, giving birth to stock car racing. Finally, when prohibition came to an end in 1933, the race has become very popular. It grew within the next 15 years and by 1948 became a very widespread sport. NASCAR was created in 1949 to organize the chaos that was witnessed in the sport.

Modification Of Stock Car Tracks

During its inception, stock car racing didn’t have the perfect tracks it has today. In fact, when NASCAR was created in 1949, almost every track was dirt. The 6.68Km Beach and Road Course in Daytona Beach was the only one that had a partial pavement.

In 1950, Darlington Raceway became the first fully paved track. With a length of more than 1.25 miles, it was classified as a superspeedway. By the late 60s, only three dirt tracks were available. In 1970, NASCAR conducted its last dirt track race at Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh.