The Founding of NASCAR
Some people love it, some people hate it, some people do a little bit of both, but one thing is for sure: no one can ignore it (or its fans). Whether it drives you giddy or drives you crazy, NASCAR is here to stay. For those who are in the former category (and there’s a lot), there is one person to thank: the late, the great William France, Sr.
As a mechanic, William France Sr. knew cars inside and out. From their engine to their transmission, from their tail pipe to the pine tree air freshener swinging on a rearview mirror, France had a natural knack for cars. He also had an idea: he believed people would enjoy watching stock car races. If he built it, they would come.
In 1935, France moved from Washington DC to Daytona Beach, Florida in hopes of finding work in a Great Depression laden economy. With knowledge of the area and the land speed record attempts, France entered himself in the land speed event. In 1936 he finished fifth; in 1938 he took over as course manager.
Before his involvement, races were a risk in more ways than one. Dishonest promoters typically sold their drivers on large dreams and riches, only to take the money and run before the drivers were paid. This, in part, led to France’s belief that stock car racing needed some kind of organization; it needed to become an association with a rigid set of rules, set schedules, a set championship, and protection for all those involved.
In December 1947, France summoned some of the most well known racers and race promoters to propose his ideas. They met at a hotel in Daytona Beach where it is rumored that an outline of the point system and the “official” rules were written on a bar napkin.
After just two months, NASCAR was officially formed on February 21, 1948. From there it was, quite literally, off to the races.