You may know NASCAR is a type of racing, and you may know the cars look somewhat similar to a regular car, but just what does the name mean? N-A-S-C-A-R…
Long before speed enthusiasts went to the salt flats to break speed records, they would take their best to the beach. In the 1920’s and ’30’s Daytona Beach was host to the fastest cars in the US. By the mid 1930’s, prohibition produced bootleggers in the South who would modify stock vehicles to outrun police while delivering moonshine… And so a sport was born.
As bootleggers and speed enthusiasts began to compete for bragging rights across the Southeast, a need to organize the racing emerged. By 1936, Daytona Beach began sanctioning organized racing that ran south on A1A and north on the beach, cutting across on set out access roads. By 1947, Bill France Sr. saw the need for a sanctioning body to set rules, promote races, and oversee championships. He and other racers and promoters met at the Ebony Bar in Daytona Beach in February of 1948 and NASCAR was formed.
NASCAR stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Although the cars used today are anything but stock, at its inception, NASCAR’s premier division was “Strickly Stock.” Racers used street legal cars that they modified for speed and traction. Many tricks were used such as putting gasoline in the frame for more miles per stop, or filling the frame with sand to make a specified weight and letting the sand pour out over the length of the race for a lighter, faster car.
Today, NASCAR has two premier “stock car” divisions, the higher of which is the Sprint Cup Series. They also have a Truck series, a Canadian Truck Series, a series in Mexico, and a regional series around the United States. Although they are made with the likeness of certain passenger cars, today’s race cars are engineered to perfection. A car you see in a modern NASCAR race costs around $150,000 to produce, not including countless hours of preparations for a specific track. Current teams even have machines that are programmed to pull and push on the frame of a car the way a specific track would at racing speed.
Although the NASCAR of today is far from the Bill France Sr. version of 1948, most racers and fans still view the sport as it was in the ’50s. They are brand loyal, driver loyal, and view the sport as a mesh of man and machine, pushing the limit for speed and fun.