NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
A joke by some is that it stands for…Non Athletic Sport that Centers Around Rednecks, or Non Athletic Sport Composed of Amused Rednecks.
Today it boasts of more than 75 million fans.
The driving force behind the establishment of NASCAR was William “Bill” France Sr. (1909-1992), a mechanic and auto-repair shop owner from Washington, D.C., who in the mid-1930s moved to Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Daytona area was a gathering spot for racing enthusiasts, and France became involved in racing cars and promoting races. After witnessing how racing rules could vary from event to event and how dishonest promoters could abscond with prize money, France felt there was a need for a governing body to sanction and promote racing.
He gathered members of the racing community to discuss the idea, and NASCAR was born, with its official incorporation in February 1921. France served as NASCAR’s first president and played a key role in shaping its development in the sport’s early decades.
In the early days, the drivers raced down the beach of Daytona then turned and raced back down the road until they turned back onto the beach to come around again.
NASCAR held its first Strictly Stock race on June 19, 1949, at the Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina. Some 13,000 fans were on hand to watch Glenn Dunnaway finish the 200-lap race first in his Ford; however, Jim Roper (who drove a Lincoln) collected the $2,000 prize after Dunnaway was disqualified for illegal rear springs on his vehicle.
In the early years of NASCAR, competitors drove the same types of cars that people drove on the street–Buicks, Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, among others–with minimal modifications. Today, the cars are highly customized.
In 1950, the first NASCAR-based track, the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, opened. More new raceways followed, including the Daytona International Speedway, which opened in 1959.
Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500, which was run on February 22 of that year.
The Daytona 500 became NASCAR’s season opener and one of its premiere events. Lee Petty’s son Richard, who began his racing career in 1958, won the Daytona 500 a record seven times and became NASCAR’s first superstar before retiring in 1992.
NASCAR roots are from Bootlegging moonshine across the South. Many drivers started out by tuning up their cars and hauling illegal liquor around the South.
Their fast cars helped them outrun the law. Then someone got the bright idea to cut a racetrack into a cow pasture and, as they say, the rest is history.
Today, NASCAR drivers race on multi-million dollar tracks in cars costing over $150,000, to the delight of hundreds of thousands of fans watching it live at the tracks; and millions more watching from home on TV.
Before we get started with the tour, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I worked in Motorsports for 10 years.
During that time I had many responsibilities. One of them was that I was a NASCAR Tour Guide.
I would escort VIP Guests into the Pit and Garage Areas and explain to them all the things about racing that they needed to know to enjoy the race that day better.
During my racing career, I was able to drive NASCAR race cars many times.
I drove the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where they host the Indy 500 every year, as well as NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.
Charlotte Motor Speedway was fun and it’s in the heart of NASCAR territory with most of the race teams in the area.
I also drove the Daytona International Speedway, twice. They host the Daytona 500 and it was a really exciting experience to drive on such a big racetrack with so much history.
I learned quite a bit about racing from driving these cars so fast.
I’m about to share some of that knowledge with you now on a virtual NASCAR Tour.
I hope you enjoy reading the rest of my article and maybe you’ll learn some things you didn’t know about NASCAR and racing before.
It’s in the garage area where the teams work on their cars, getting them ready to race. Now let’s talk about the cars.
A NASCAR racecar can cost between $150,000 and $175,000 dollars.
There’s no air conditioning, no headlights, no brake lights and the doors don’t work.
They don’t have a gas gauge or a speedometer. They do have a tachometer. They use this to check their speed when coming down pit road so they don’t getting caught speeding.
There’s only one seat and it’s molded to fit each driver’s body exactly.
The steering wheels come on and off to make it easier to get into the car because it is so cramped for space.
The engine size is 358 cubic inches and can cost between $45,000 and $80,000 dollars. The teams build their own engines and they take 100 hours to complete. It can generate over 700 horsepower.
On the two largest tracks, the teams are required to use “Restrictor Plates”. These plates go on the carburetor and restrict the flow of air so the cars can’t go as fast as usual, which is over 200 miles an hour on the other tracks.
Many times you’ll see celebrities. Here is Ben Affleck at the Daytona 500.
There is always a Blimp at the race for aerial coverage for the network broadcast.
Before the start of the race, the teams line their cars up on the track in their starting positions.
They will plug the cars up to a small generator.
This generator powers heating pads in the car that keeps the engine fluids warm and ready to race.
The picture below is at the Brickyard 400. This is the view from our suite for VIP Guests.
It can get pretty crowded on the track before the race begins.
Here you can see the generator better, that heats up the engine fluids.
The drivers will take a lap around the track to wave to the fans before the race starts.
The fans love this and cheer wildly for their favorite drivers.
The Pit Crew members are starting to become recognized for the Professional Athletes that they are.
They will stretch out so that they are ready for the Pit Stops.
Crew members will fill up their gas cans.
Here we see a team member hauling gas back to his pit area. You can imagine how hard this is to do when Pit Road is full of spectators.
Finally, the pace car leads the race cars out onto the track for the start of the race.
The race fans go crazy when the cars pass in front of them.
You may not be able to see them but each car has two roof flaps that raise up and catch air if the car gets turned sideways or backwards.
You can see them better in this photo. They catch air and help to hold the car to the ground instead of letting the air get underneath the rear of the car and lift it off of the ground and flip it in the air.
It can reach 140 degrees in a race car during the race and a driver can lose as much as 5 – 10 pounds of weight from sweating for over 3 hours in a race car.
By the floorboards of the car, it can get as hot as 170 degrees, so the drivers wear additional foot protection attached to the outside of their racing shoes.
When a race car is involved in a wreck or crash, usually the car is totaled.
It is reduced to a pile of rubble.
When a driver wins the race, he drives his car to Victory Lane to get the trophy, pose for photos and celebrate with his team.
It is a great time for the whole team.
They will stay in the Winner’s Circle for a while after a victory.
Most of the time, a driver will do a burn out after he wins. The fans love this.
At the Brickyard 400, the team and car are elevated and it makes for some great photos.
At the Brickyard 400, the whole team kisses the famous yard of bricks. At the Indy 500, only the driver kisses the bricks.
Here they are smooching away. You can see where the driver did his burn out earlier.
Afterwards, the team climbs the fence and the fans love it.
At the end of the racing season, NASCAR has an Awards Banquet in New York every year.
I enjoyed going to these Banquets. Riding around in limos and going to nice parties is always fun while in New York.
I usually try to attend the Texas NASCAR race every few years, if I can.
I always spent time around Jeff Gordon’s Crew.
Here I am with a NASCAR Spokesmodel, Miss Sprint Cup.
I’m with Gordon’s car as it goes through inspection in this picture.
Many won’t remember that I drove in NASCAR for a short time until injuries from a crash caused me to retire early. Here I am qualifying for the Daytona 500 in my car.
Just kidding. I was never a driver in NASCAR. I made this car by putting my logos on a real car with photoshop, lol.
But if I had ever been a driver, I would have loved to race in this car.
And sometimes if you’re lucky, you can get a photo with a NASCAR Champion.
The photo below is of the Rings of my Career.
College Graduate, Lifeguard Champion, NASCAR Championship Team Ring, Brickyard 400 Winner Team Ring and IndyCar Championship Team Ring to name a few.
I was fortunate to get a NASCAR Championship Ring for my work on Jeff Gordon’s team and also a Championship Ring for my work in IndyCar with Sam Hornish, Jr. Not many in Racing can say that. I’m probably the only VIP Tour Guide with rings from both major series in Motorsports.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Virtual Tour of NASCAR racing. Maybe you learned some things you didn’t know before.
I guess you could say this tour was 10 years in the making, lol.
I have some Motorsport videos on my site that you might enjoy seeing. The walk down Pit Road during the Texas race, in particular.
That completes this NASCAR 101 Course. Give yourself 3 Credits towards Graduation. Congratulations on your Quest for a Degree from The Universite de Arachnida.
To see other course requirements for your degree, see next link.
Any questions and/or comments may be directed to the following:
Dr. Spider Michaels, Phd.