Stock Car Racing
Now a wildly popular sport throughout the United States, stock car racing got its start during Prohibition. In the southeastern part of the country, bootleggers needed to zip up and down windy mountain roads with gallons of moonshine in their trunks and police hot on their tails. As demand for bootleg whiskey grew, they began souping up their cars to drive faster, handle more smoothly and hold more cargo. Even after Prohibition's repeal in 1933, famous moonshine runners like Junior Johnson and the Flock brothers used their turbo-charged vehicles to outrun tax collectors.
Before long, drivers began challenging each other to races, converting fields and pastures into makeshift oval tracks. Known as stock car racing, the new sport gained a strong following, particularly in North Carolina and Daytona Beach, Florida. Former bootleggers and runners traded in their whiskey stills for full-time racing careers, and the cars kept getting faster and lighter.
In the 1940s, a mechanic and racecar driver named Bill France recognized the need for a governing body to set rules and regulations for stock car racing. He founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) in Daytona Beach on February 21, 1948. NASCAR remains a family-owned business to this day, with France's grandson currently serving as CEO. Each year, it oversees roughly 1,500 races at more than 100 tracks, including Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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