NASCAR Nation: A History of Stock Car Racing in the United States

NASCAR Nation: A History of Stock Car Racing in the United States

NASCAR Nation: A History of Stock Car Racing in the United States

NASCAR Nation: A History of Stock Car Racing in the United States


NASCAR is the number one spectator sport in the United States and the second most popular televised sport. Perhaps most surprising, roughly 40 percent of the NASCAR fan base is now female. How did this all-American sport develop and where is it bound?


History is a funny thing. If you got ten people and they all
see the same thing, you’ll get ten different stories from them

—Richard Petty

The previous accounts detailing stock car racing’s past validate “King” Richard Petty’s assertion that history is a subjective art. Earlier volumes on stock car racing feature disparate claims over the sport’s very origins. Efforts to understand the early years of the sport derail immediately thanks to various chroniclers both placing the birth of the sport in different locales across the United States and offering alternative versions of what actually constitutes a “stock car.” Along with these geographical and technical disputes come arguments over who actually “invented” this form of motor sport. Unlike battles over creation myths in other sports, which typically pit one alleged founder against another, stock car racing’s fight revolves around different socioeconomic groups. Indicative of the high level of confusion surrounding stock’s origins, diametrically opposed views on creators have emerged, with claims that the elite invented the sport countered by assertions that credit should belong to lower-class criminals involved in illegal liquor operations. To further muddy the waters, nascar (the de facto governing body for all American stock car racing) vehemently defends its “official” version of the sport’s history, which shifts over time depending on the organization’s current economic and promotional imperatives.

From the maze of differing accounts, a consensus story of stock car racing’s origins has gained strength in recent years. According to the popular myth of stock’s birth, southern bootleggers invented stock car racing as a means of determining who owned the fastest customized vehicle. Unable to compete against each other on open roads thanks to law enforcement, these moonshine haulers began challenging each other on crudely laid . . .

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