The National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) was formed in February of 1948 and has grown to be one of the most popular sports in America and has grown into an industry that has made billions of dollars. William France, Sr. was the head honcho behind NASCAR. France ran his own auto repair shop and was a mechanic there. He lived in Washington, D.C. but decided to move to Daytona Beach, FL sometime in the 1930s where there were a large number of people who loved racing which he also had a passion for.
After he moved to Daytona Beach, France decided to get involved in car racing as well as promoting. He soon witnessed how dishonest promoters could be when it came to events and the prize money that was involved and decided enough was enough. He felt there was a dire need for someone who could govern, promote, and sanction the spectator sport of racing. This was where NASCAR was formed and France took his idea and ran with it.
NASCAR had its first race in June of 1949 in Charlotte, North Carolina. More than 13,000 racing fans showed up to witness a racer by the name of Glenn Dunnaway win the 200 lap race but was later disqualified. The NASCAR drivers drove cars such Oldsmobiles, Cadillacs, Buicks, and various other street cars. There was very little customization on these vehicles which is quite different than how NASCAR vehicles are today.
An official NASCAR racetrack was constructed in South Carolina and had a successful opening. The Daytona International Speedway soon followed in 1959 where Lee Petty was the first winner. Richard Petty who is Lee Petty’s son started racing in 1958 and became one of the most popular racers in NASCAR history before he retired in 1992. He won the Daytona 500 a number of times and is still a household name when it comes to NASCAR enthusiasts.
It wasn’t until 1979 that the first NASCAR race was broadcasted on television. This created quite a buzz as well as popularity due to a fight between Bobby and Donnie Allison as well as Cale Yarborough. People started to talk and felt entertained and we left wanting more. This was just the beginning for NASCAR and its fans.
William France Jr took over the company in 1972. He was the president of NASCAR until he passed away in 2007. He was extremely instrumental when it comes to the transformation of NASCAR from being just a regional sport to being a sport that is widely popular all over the country. There are well over 1,200 race in over 100 tracks across the entire United States.
I am sure Mr. France had no idea what he was getting himself into when he decided to build the NASCAR Empire. There are millions of NASCAR fans all over the country who travel miles and miles to come see their favorite racers perform. It is the most popular spectator sports in the entire U.S.