NASCAR is among the biggest sports in the US. Fans travel from all over the country to attend live races and cheer on their favorite drivers while others wager on Coca cola 600 odds from the comfort of their homes. From Carl Edwards to Jimmie Johnson, fans are always excited to see their driver pole for each race.
But what is NASCAR? Many people are still confused by what NASCAR is and have no clue how it started or grew into the enormous sport it has become today. Below are the origins and rise of NASCAR:
What is NASCAR?
NASCAR is an American racing-sanctioning and operating organization known for stock-car racing. Bill France created it. In 1948 as a single-purpose family business, it raced on the Daytona Beach and Road Course and organized a new automobile racing-sanctioning body.
The company sanctions and organizes the Xfinity, Monster Energy Cup Series, the Camping series, ARCA Racing Series, Super Late Models, and other short-track motor racing events. In 2009 it organized the first Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico City, called NASCAR Mexico Corona Series.
NASCAR’s origins can be traced back to the 1930s when Bill France created NASCAR. The organization started as a series of races in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
In 1948, France began promoting NASCAR as an official sanctioning body for auto racing events across the United States. Drivers competed in modified production vehicles made by automobile manufacturers specifically for racing purposes.
As the popularity of NASCAR grew, so did its reach across the United States and Canada. By the mid-1950s, races were being held at tracks across the country from coast to coast.
Daytona 500 was conducted on February 22, 1959, at Daytona International Speedway. Lee Petty won over Johnny Beauchamp by seven seconds after 125 laps had been completed around this 2.5-mile-high banked oval track.
How NASCAR Grew
The first NASCAR competition was held in Daytona Beach, on February 15, 1948, when a local newspaper editor named Bill France Sr. organized a 100-mile (160 km) event called the Daytona Beach Road Course. The Daytona 500, as it became known, has been held every year since and is now the well-known race on the NASCAR calendar.
France Sr. started NASCAR to promote his speedway business in Jacksonville, Florida, and develop a national championship for stock car racing drivers that would rival USAC’s Indianapolis 500. He decided early on that this would be a regional sport rather than one with national appeal.
Hence, he based his organization around individual tracks instead of major cities or states like USAC did with IndyCar racing today.
The first NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion was Lee Petty, who won eight races during his career, including two wins at Talladega Superspeedway and four wins at Darlington Raceway, which are still considered historic racing venues today even though they don’t host any of Winston Cup Series races anymore due to track configuration changes.
How NASCAR Has Changed
NASCAR is a sport that has changed a lot over its history. Here’s how NASCAR changed over time.
The first NASCAR race was held in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1948. There were only three competitors, and the winner was Glenn Dunnaway. The winner received $1000 for his efforts.
In 1949, NASCAR grew to more than 40 drivers and had six races scheduled.
The 1950s saw many changes for NASCAR: The organization began holding races on tracks other than dirt tracks; more than 100 drivers were competing each year; there were almost 50 races scheduled each year during the decade (though some years had fewer).
The 1960s brought more changes: The first “superspeedway” was built (North Wilkesboro Speedway), which was faster than any track built before; sponsorship became important as teams began receiving money from sponsors.
There were now enough drivers that needed a qualifying system to compete against each other at once instead of having a few cars racing at a time like before.
The 1970s saw even more changes: The first purpose-built racecar was designed by Holman Moody Motorsports; Winston became the sponsor of NASCAR’s top series.
The sport also began enforcing stricter rules on drivers’ conduct and introducing safety regulations such as fireproof driving suits and helmets made out of kevlar instead of leather helmets used up until 1973.
Since its inception, NASCAR has evolved into an international phenomenon, with drivers from all over the world competing against each other in races throughout North America and overseas in countries such as Japan and Mexico.
In the end, NASCAR is a sport that has been taken up in love by millions across the country. Wherever there is a race, whether it be in Florida, California, Texas, or elsewhere, there will always be diehard fans cheering for their favorite drivers every step of the way. And that’s NASCAR in a nutshell.
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