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February - NASCAR & Bootleggers

NASCAR & Bootleggers

The thrill of attending a NASCAR race is truly unparalleled. It's an experience characterized by the thunderous sound of power; heart-pounding excitement fueled by speed, noise, strategy, competition, and camaraderie; and the ever-present unpredictability that makes each race an unforgettable chapter in the story of racing.

But did you realize that NASCAR had its roots in Prohibition bootlegging? Because bootleggers needed to transport their illegal alcohol quickly to evade law enforcement, they started modifying their stock cars to improve handling and speed. Since driving skills were essential for successful moonshine transportation, bootleggers developed daring and fearless driving techniques.

To successfully manage their distribution channels, moonshiners and their mechanics acquired the expertise to enhance their vehicles by reinforcing the suspension and boring out cylinders to increase horsepower. These modifications transformed off-the-floor cars into high-performance machines capable of reaching speeds of 100 miles per hour or even more.

The combination of technical superiority and driving skills was the recipe for competition amongst bootleggers. Bootleggers, when not running contraband, would stake out a track and race each other in their souped-up cars. This was the birth of "stock car racing." Some of the most famous early stock car racers were moonshine runners. This pastime quickly drew audiences and wagering.

As stock car racing continued to gain momentum, it attracted larger audiences and sponsors, transforming from a hidden gem into a mainstream phenomenon. The sport's growth was propelled by the recognition of its deep-seated roots in bootlegging culture.

In 1947, the need for organized leadership became apparent. Bill France Sr., a passionate racing enthusiast, stepped forward to fill this void. France convened a meeting with a group of racers, car owners, and track operators to discuss the formation of a governing body for stock car racing. This meeting led to the establishment of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) on February 21, 1948.

NASCAR, with its origins deeply intertwined with the daring bootleggers of yesteryears, emerged as a powerful symbol of American racing culture and will forever preserve the legacy of those fearless moonshine runners.


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