Thursday, April 21, 2016

From Bootlegging to Nascar

Bootlegging, the illegal activity of getting outlawed moonshine (distilled high octane liquor) through the backwoods of the south without being stopped by the Revenuers (federal tax collectors) was a tough and dangerous job. The shiner’s wanted to sell their hooch without paying taxes and the government wanted their money – the two did not see eye to eye on the arrangement. Started in the Prohibition days but continued afterwards because people wanted their ‘shine’ and the feds wanted the tax for that wanting.

That'd be Hooch in the trunk - Officer
It was also exciting fun to be driving stripped down muscle cars along dark lonely roads at all hours wondering where the feds would be waiting. Here and there suddenly a police cruiser would pick up chase and it was up to the guts and skills of the moonshiner to make their daring escape. With large uncorked engines (horsepower maxed to the limit), gutted auto bodies (all non-essential parts taken out to lessen the weight) and with the skill of race car drivers the moonshiners raced away from the pursuer leaving them in the proverbial dust. Even to this day the war between the revenuers and the moonshiners continues in the south east portion of the United States – doubt it – check out ‘Moonshiners’ on the Discovery Channel. The past is the present with these folks wanting to make their ‘shine’ while the federal government tries weekly to close down the stills. Who will win – watch the reality television show and learn on your own.
The damn blog - now I remember.

But back to the blog.

Eluding the authorities was way too much fun and after a couple of decades someone decided to try having this sort of excitement on permanent tracks. No one could watch the routine chase scenes taking place in the hinterlands so why not bring the drivers and spectators together in one venue.

Catch me if you can, Coppers!

There were already race tracks throughout the south but each had their own rules and regulations which was confusing and also often times didn’t account for the real money being taken in by the races with winners earning nothing. It was a very corrupt way to run any contest.

Races but not fair purses for the drivers.

There needed to be a hero to get this all right. A person who would stand up for the bootleggers who wanted to go straight and earn lots of cash.

And that's where Billy France comes into the scene.
William (Bill) France Sr. moved to Daytona Beach in 1935 and realized the potential for a racing phenomena. In December of 1947 he met with well-known racers who would run their stripped down street vehicles with supped up engines around tracks trying to earn enough to rebuild their vehicles. Prize money wasn’t much to write home about in the early days of car racing. 

But on February 21, 1948 NASCAR was born with clear regulations, rules and static prize money for winners and losers. The National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) proved to be a boon for Bill France Sr. and the other investors starting so small in 1948 and expanding into the mega-business it is today.

NASCAR is broadcast in over 150 countries worldwide and Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR more than any other motor sport on the planet. Compared to other sports NASCAR has the record of holding the top 17 out of 20 single-day sporting events internationally by spectator. The sport is still growing competing in more and more countries each year and soon will be racing in Japan as it is Canada and Mexico.

Large and loud crowds!
From the days of ‘shiners’ outrunning law enforcement to a guy coming up with a good idea in Dayton Beach, Florida – world headquarters for NASCAR – to a multi-billion dollar enterprise has been the history of this sport from down south.

Danika Patrick - a woman with a dream - she crashed though.

A dreamer had a dream and that dream turned into pure enjoyment for fans who love to do nothing but watch race cars speeding around an oval track at over two hundred miles per hour, eat greasy and fried food, drink beer, and be with their friends.

Sometimes there is a little smoke.

Today, as stated, NASCAR is a huge sport that includes people from all walks of life from around the world. Interesting when one looks into the history of something that started so small, but profitable, on the wrong side of the law turns out to be such a huge success.

People like chances, they like speed, they like fancy painted cars, and they really love those that sit cramped behind break-away steering wheels with their foot to the metal. The drivers give it all for the audience who give it their all - it is truly a synergistic relationship.

Sounds pretty thrilling to J and L and the between 40 to 50 million fans of the sport from around the globe.

NASCAR is nothing but Patriotic!
And sometimes a goofy hat is just right.

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