NASCAR is the Fastest growing spectator sport in the United States, Ever wonder where it all started?
In the years immediately following World War II, stock-car racing was experiencing the greatest popularity it had ever seen. Tracks throughout the country were drawing more drivers, and bigger crowds.
Nonetheless, there was a serious lack of organization. From track to track, rules were different. Some tracks were just makeshift facilities, built to produce one big show at a county fair or something similar to capitalize on the crowds flocking to the events. Other tracks were more suited to handle the cars, but not the crowds. Some could manage both, but did little to adhere to rules set by other tracks.
In December 1947, Bill France Sr., of Daytona Beach, Fla., organized a meeting at the Streamline Hotel across the street from the Atlantic Ocean to discuss the problems facing stock-car racing.
France had come to Florida from Washington, D.C., years earlier. He operated a local service station and also promoted races on the city’s famed beach-road courses, often racing himself. He was a man of strong will — and ambition. Thus, by the time that meeting at the Streamline Hotel was complete, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was born. Few knew when the meeting adjourned if the organization would be successful. In fact, there were skeptics who believed it never would work.
Not even France, who believed a sanctioning body was exactly what the sport of stock-car racing needed, could have envisioned what NASCAR has become today.
Things came together quickly. The first NASCAR-sanctioned race was held on Daytona’s beach course Feb. 15, 1948, just two months after the organizational meeting. Red Byron, a stock car legend from Atlanta, won the event in his Ford Modified. Six days later on Feb. 21, 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was incorporated.
It was 1949, however, when what is now the Cup Series, the premier racing division in America, was born.
Jim Roper of Great Bend, Kan., was the winner of the first ever NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) event, held at the Charlotte (N.C.) Fairgrounds on June 19, 1949. A tremendous crowd attended the event to see automobiles with the appearance of a street-car race door-to-door. The new racing series was off and running. And it was an immediate success.
Plans immediately were made for ways to bring bigger, faster races to bigger, hungrier crowds and less than a year later (1950), the country’s first asphalt superspeedway, Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, opened its doors for the new division.
The first decade for the Cup Series was one of tremendous growth. Characters became heroes and fans hung on every turn of the wheel, watching drivers manhandle cars at speeds fans wished they could legally run themselves.
Names like Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Herb Thomas, the Flock brothers, Bill Rexford, Paul Goldsmith and others became as well-known to race fans as Willie, Mickey and the Duke were to baseball fans.
Looking to the future, and the past with the success of Darlington, Bill France Sr., began construction of a 2.5-mile, high-banked superspeedway four miles off the beach in Daytona Beach.
Source: nascar.com via nascanner