Daily Archives: March 29, 2012

Hey Cletus, “Loogit dem stock cars go!”

Being one of the tens of millions of NASCAR fans can be quite trying at times.

When I used to be in the automotive industry daily conversations about NASCAR, and motorsports in general, were commonplace. Every customer I talked to or client I met with would bring up last Sunday’s race. Those conversations are what got me into it.

Now, I work in an office environment where stick and ball sports are all the rage. Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely love football and the perennially pathetic Cleveland Browns. I’m not a fan of baseball or basketball but, I’ll tell you what, if the Indians or Cavs somehow get into the playoffs…. I’m a HUGE (fair weather) fan! I certainly don’t take jabs at the guys who are fans of those sports. Especially the golf fans (Though from following the Tiger Woods story, it seems like golf is a good sport to participate in if you wanna pick up real slutty girls)!

I do get needled pretty often for being a NASCAR fan; not just at work either. I get the ol’, “How can you watch a bunch of cars go in circles for hours?” Hmmm… maybe ’cause there are actual humans piloting those cars; and teams supporting them and their machines. With engineers, technicians and entire companies supporting them. There are also a couple road courses on the circuit in which they turn RIGHT also. Whew! So much pressure for dem drivers!

Seeeee... He's turning RIGHT!

Another argument I encounter is that NASCAR started with hillbillies bootleggin’ whiskey during prohibition. Technically…no. Bootleggers, in an effort to move illegal alcohol during prohibition had to find innovative ways to make their “stock cars” more powerful, lighter, better handling and, ultimately, faster than the authorities that would pursue them. These were not dumb fellas. Hell, at times they had to do business with the mafia in Chicago and NYC to help the supply of liquor to tens of thousands of speakeasies in those cities.

In the ’20s and ’30s (the era of prohibition in the Unites States), Daytona Beach, FL became the place to go where fast drivers would set land speed records. Naturally, because of the skills possessed by the “hillbillies” to create competitive “stock cars”, bootleggers did well. After prohibition was repealed in 1933, to replace lost bootlegging income, these cutting edge drivers with their fast, modified, cars began to compete in races at the Daytona Beach road course.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous promoters of  a lot of the races back then would split during the race so they wouldn’t have to pay out any winnings to the drivers.

Mechanic William France, Sr., moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, from Washington, D.C., in 1935 to escape the Great Depression. He was familiar with the history of the area from the land speed record attempts. France entered the 1936 Daytona event, finishing fifth. He took over running the course in 1938. He promoted a few races before World War II.

France had the notion that people would enjoy watching “stock cars” race.  In 1947, he decided this racing would not grow without a formal sanctioning organization, standardized rules, regular schedule, and an organized championship. On December 14, 1947 France began talks with other influential racers and promoters at the Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotel at Daytona Beach, Florida, that ended with the formation of NASCAR on February 21, 1948…. 15 years after that whole bootleggin’ thing!

Anyway… the reason for this post is to bring attention to the fact that, at Martinsville Speedway this Sunday, the #29 Budweiser car, piloted by the always humorous Kevin Harvick (my youngest daughter is named after Kevin’s wife, Delana), will be sportin’ a paint job that celebrates the end of prohibition!