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The History of NASCAR: How It All Started

Jun 28, 2021 ·
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The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing — better known as NASCAR — was founded was 1948, though the roots of stock car racing actually date to the Prohibition era.

Daytona Beach, Florida, was a common location for setting land-speed records, with drivers gathering to compete in events to see which cars were the fastest. Race competitor and businessman William “Bill” France Sr. saw there was a need to promote and sanction racing.

Since its formation, NASCAR has been a leader in producing and promoting races, and it has become the world’s largest governing body for stock car racing.

Keep reading to find out more about NASCAR history, as well as the specialized technician training program offered at NASCAR Technical Institute.

NASCAR Origins

During the 1920s and ’30s, the preferred location for speed record competitions was Daytona Beach, where drivers raced on a 4.1-mile course that featured a 1.5-mile to 2-mile stretch of beach as a straightaway and a beachfront highway as another part of the course.

Stock car racing dates to the Prohibition era, which began in 1920. Small, fast vehicles were used to transport whisky and other alcoholic beverages to the United States. Cars that looked normal on the outside were modified for speed and handling, and many had floorboards and seats removed to store the bootlegged alcohol.

After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, stock car racing was still popular, and drivers continued transporting moonshine in the South. Cars got faster, which helped improve the racing scene in Daytona.

Bill France Sr. moved to the area in 1935 due to the Great Depression and entered the 1936 Daytona event, placing fifth. France began running the course in 1938. In 1947, he met with other promoters and racers to discuss forming a sanctioning body for the races.

This discussion led to the formation of NASCAR in 1948, which featured three different divisions: Modified, Roadster and Strictly Stock, though the Roadster division was quickly dropped due to a lack of interest from fans.

The First NASCAR Race

The first NASCAR event was held on February 15, 1948, at the beach-road course in Daytona, which was a Modified division race. While this was the first year that an event by the company took place, most people associate 1949 as the year that the racing world changed forever.

The first NASCAR Strictly Stock Series race — the first stock car race officially sanctioned by the company — took place on June 19, 1949, at Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina before a crowd of around 13,000. The race was comprised of 200 laps that equated to 150 miles, and cars reached top speeds of around 68 mph.

Jim Roper, who entered in a 1949 Lincoln, was awarded first place after Glenn Dunaway was disqualified for having illegal rear springs installed on his 1947 Ford.

NASCAR Through the Years

What started as a relatively small organization has transformed into a popular and thriving sport. Today, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,500 races around the world.

The company has experienced many milestones. Some of the highlights include:

  • September 4, 1950: NASCAR hosts its first 500-mile race, the Southern 500, at Darlington Raceway.
  • February 22, 1959: The first Daytona 500 is hosted at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. More than 41,000 fans attend, and Lee Petty is crowned the winner.
  • December 1, 1963: Wendell Scott makes becomes the first African American to win a race in NASCAR’s premier series.
  • September 14, 1969: The Alabama International Speedway opens. It’s better known today as Talladega Superspeedway.
  • March 24, 1970: Buddy Baker becomes the first driver to break 200 mph.
  • February 14, 1971: The Daytona 500 is broadcast on Motor Racing Network (MRN) for the first time.
  • January 10, 1972: NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. hands leadership to his son, Bill France Jr.
  • July 4, 1984: Richard Petty hits a milestone of 200 wins at the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
  • November 15, 1992: The 1992 season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway is touted as one of the most significant races in NASCAR history. Jeff Gordon races for the first time in a premier series competition, while Richard Petty races for the last time.
  • November 11, 1999: Fox, NBC and Turner Sports all become NASCAR partners.
  • February 18, 2001: Dale Earnhardt Sr. dies after a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500.
  • January 2003: The NASCAR Research and Development Center is unveiled in Concord, North Carolina.
  • May 23, 2010: The inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class is inducted, featuring Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Junior Johnson.
  • February 17, 2013: Danica Patrick wins the Busch Pole award at the Daytona 500, becoming the first woman to win a pole in premier series history.
  • November 20, 2016: Jimmie Johnson wins his seventh NASCAR premier series title and ties the records of Hall-of-Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.
  • April 27, 2018: NASCAR announces the acquisition of the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA).
  • August 6, 2018: Leadership of the organization is transferred to Jim France, son of founder Bill France Sr. and brother of Bill France Jr.

NASCAR has gone from the humble beginnings of hosting races with cars driven off the street to showcasing the advanced racing machines of today. The tradition of watching races has been a pleasure shared by many Americans for decades, and the legacy continues.

Specialized Training at NASCAR Technical Institute

If you have a passion for the sport of NASCAR and see yourself working in the world of motor sports, getting specialized training can help to better prepare you for a career.

The NASCAR specialized training program is offered at NASCAR Tech in Mooresville, North Carolina. Over the course of 15 weeks, students are trained on the fundamentals in motor sports, ranging from engines, aerodynamics, fabrication and pit crew essentials.24 Some select students even get the opportunity to build engines that compete in NASCAR-sanctioned races.

NASCAR Tech is the exclusive educational provider for NASCAR and the only campus in the country offering NASCAR-endorsed training. Students work with state-of-the-industry technology and learn from instructors who bring a wide assortment of industry experience, from engine builders to crew chiefs.

To qualify for the NASCAR program, students must complete some form of core automotive program training. Find out more about Universal Technical Institute’s core auto program here.

Pursue a Career in Motor Sports

You can combine your passion for NASCAR with an exciting, hands-on career in the industry.1 Racing teams need skilled technicians to keep the cars on the tracks performing lap after lap.

Find out more information about NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville and the specialized training program by requesting more information here or by calling 1-800-834-7308.

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It only takes a few minutes to learn about technician training opportunities.

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Please enter your email address

By submitting this form, I agree that Universal Technical Institute, Inc., Custom Training Group, Inc., and their representatives may email, call, and / or text me with marketing messages about educational programs and services, as well as for school - related communications, at any phone number I provide, including a wireless number, using prerecorded calls or automated technology. I understand that my consent is not required to apply, enroll or make any purchase.

By submitting this form, I further understand and agree that all information provided is subject to UTI's Privacy Policy available at uti.edu/privacy-policy

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