How Did NASCAR Get Its Start?

Enterprising individuals have been making mooonshine ever since the government imposed taxes on liquor back when America was taking shape in the 1700s. And when Prohibition became the law of the land in the 1920s, bootleggers in the South ramped up production, making money for their families and keeping their customers happy. Every distillery needed to get its moonshine to market, and that meant having a special kind car -- and a special kind of driver. Bootleggers relied on cars with high-powered engines and heavy-duty shocks to outrun local law enforcement and tax agents, who were often hot on their heels. These types of vehicles, and the young men who drove them on winding mountain roads, gave rise to the now-popular sport of stock car racing and, most famously, NASCAR.

Checkered past, checkered flags:

  • Distilleries usually operated under the light of the moon, in the hope that the authorities wouldn’t detect smoke rising from the stills -- a practice that led to the term “moonshine.”

  • Moonshine runners used cars with the back seat removed, so that more “rotgut” could be transported. When they weren’t smuggling hooch, they were racing each other for bragging rights.

  • A former runner named "Big Bill" France was instrumental in creating the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) in December 1947. The first NASCAR event was held two months later.

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