The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, simply referred to as NASCAR was formerly founded on the 21st of February, 1948. William ‘Bill’ France, Sr. was the visionary behind this venture and with the help of other racing enthusiasts and promoters, he formed an iconic body that would redefine racing. France Sr. was an established mechanic in Washington D.C. in the late 1920s and early 30s. However, the Great Depression propelled many to look for new opportunities elsewhere. To this end, France Sr, moved to Daytona Beach Florida in 1935 together with his family. He was well aware of the thriving speed attempts and the growing appetite for stock car racing in Daytona. In 1936, he participated in a racing event where he managed to finish fifth.
Bill France Sr. observed the many shortcomings of the racing events in Daytona. Cases of promoters defrauding racers were becoming more apparent. In many ways, the emerging industry had no standards or rules to provide for fair play. It is this great need that sparked the need to form NASCAR. This organization would seek to put in place standards and rules that would guide racing. In addition, the association would become a formal body to sanction legitimate races for better organized championships. The Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotel in Florida would become the venue at which this visionary would sell his ideas to fellow promoters and racers.
Initially, the founding group had decided to name the new organization the National Stock Car Racing Association. However, this name was already in use by another body. At that moment, Red Vogt who was a mechanic proposed the name NASCAR: the suggestion was tentatively agreed on by all the members. The original NASCAR divisions were three in total; they included Strictly Stock, Roadster and Modified. The first racing event was in the modified category. Here, Red Byron won that title nationally. The roadsters category was not very popular with fans at the time; to this end, the division was abandoned.
The Charlotte Speedway played host to the first ever Strictly Stock race by NASCAR. Jim Roper took the win in June of 1949. Today, there are three top series which include the Nationwide Series, Sprint Cup Series and the Camping World Truck Series. The Sprint Cup Series is considered the most popular where fans are concerned. Originally, this was the Strictly Stock category. In 1972, William France Jr., the son of William France Sr. took over at the helm of NASCAR as president. In the decades that followed, the organization would break new ground as it gained not just national attention but international recognition as well.
In the new era, corporate sponsorship and lucrative TV contracts became the order of the day. Today, NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races in more that 100 tracks in nearly 40 states in the US. Regional and international races are also organized in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia and others. Since 2003, Brian France who is the founder’s grandson has been the CEO and chairman. The organization is privately owned and it’s races are broadcast well over 150 countries through television alone.
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