How does a racing sport go from dirt-oval battles between bootleggers and hot rodders to America’s largest and most popular racing series? The rise of NASCAR from its early roots in the Prohibition era to its current position as a multi-million dollar juggernaut with races watched by millions of Americans is a story that’s as suspenseful – and at times colorful – as the Talladega 500.

From Bootlegging to Oval Racing

The sport’s earliest days can be linked not to any race track, but to an activity from the Prohibition era – bootlegging. As Rick Hudson notes in an in-depth look at early NASCAR history, famous NASCAR drivers like Junior Johnson first cut their teeth dodging revenuers in sedans modified to haul as much moonshine as possible, as fast as possible. The sport also had plenty of roots on the sandy shores of Daytona Beach, where promoters like Sig Haugdahl held oval-track races on the firmly packed beach and tarmac.

Photo by Unknown via Wikimedia Commons

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) came about in December 1947, courtesy of Bill France, Sr., then an up-and-coming promoter who saw a need for an official sanctioning body. There had been plenty of early attempts to establish one as far back as the mid-1930s, but NASCAR would soon evolve into the dominate force in stock car racing.

Evolution of an Empire

NASCAR’s establishing formula initially consisted of strictly stock, street-legal family sedans on a series of oval courses, although that formula would also evolve. The newly minted organization held its first sanctioned race on the Daytona Beach road/beach course in February 1948, where Red Byron cinched the win after 150 hard-fought miles. Decades of Racing notes that by 1958, NASCAR sanctioned 24 out of 51 venues, including road races at Bridgehampton and Watkins Glen.

Photo of Red Byron’s car by Nascar1996 via Wikimedia Commons

Changes came to NASCAR in quick succession. Between 1949 and 1950, Harold Brasington built Darlington Raceway, the first of many banked-oval courses for the sport. August, 1959, signaled the end of the Daytona beach/road course and the beginning of the famous Daytona International Speedway. The sixties signaled the beginning of the infamous horsepower wars and, as an example of NASCAR’s marketing potential, the rise of high-horsepower “factory lightweights” such as the 427-equipped 1963 Ford Galaxy 500XL and the “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” mantra. The sixties were also the beginning of Richard Petty’s illustrious racing career, in which he won the NASCAR Championship seven times and a record 27 races in 1967 alone.

Photo of Richard Petty by Darryl W. Moran via Wikimedia Commons

The most significant modern change to NASCAR came in the form of the “Car of Tomorrow,” a technologically advanced chassis introduced for the 2012 season. Geared towards driver safety, the CoT chassis offered a vast number of changes – a higher, wider roll cage, double frame rails and the use of protective foam, for starters. It also signaled the definitive end of the stock car as a vehicle that could win races and sell in volume at dealer showrooms.

The Rise of a Merchandising Giant

NASCAR may be all about stock cars, but that hasn’t stopped a variety of companies from joining forces with the highly successful franchise. For instance, NASCAR and Harley-Davidson came together in 2008 to create the NASCAR 60th Anniversary Motorcycle Series. The custom-built run of 60 motorcycles were individually serialized and offered for sale to the public, according to Motorcyclist Online.

NASCAR and Harley-Davidson presented motorcycle #60 to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Petty, who auctioned the bike for charity during that year’s Coke Zero 400. This rare bike might be hard to get your hands on, but a fresh set of Dunlop D402 Harley-Davidson whitewall motorcycle tires at Bikebandit can help your Harley mimic the one-of-a-kind look of the 60th Anniversary Motorcycle.

Photo of Kyle Petty by APCEvents via Flickr

From t-shirts, hats and other official apparel to posters, die-cast cars and even commemorative versions of today’s most popular automobiles, the sanctioning body has amassed a merchandising empire with revenues of $645.4 million in 2010, according to figures from International Speedway Corporation.

JIMMIE_JOHNSON_DOVER131 8 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
2 1 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
3 11 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
4 16 24 Jeff Gordon Axalta Chevrolet
5 14 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota
6 12 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
7 2 20 Matt Kenseth Home Depot “Let`s Do This“ Toyota
8 3 39 Ryan Newman State Water Heaters Chevrolet
9 19 16 Greg Biffle Filtrete Ford
10 23 15 Clint Bowyer Raspberry5hourEnergyLivingBeyondBreastCancer Tyt Continue reading “2013 NASCAR CUP CHASE RACE #3 RESULTS, DOVER – JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS”

NASCAR 2013:   Sprint Cup Series Goody's

Arguably two of NASCAR’s most iconic stars, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Petty, will join forces to promote one of the sport’s most iconic brands, Goody’s headache powder, officials announced Monday night during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Richard Petty Celebrates 75th Birthday
“The King” of NASCAR Hits Another Milestone

Concord, N.C. (July 1, 2012) – You will have to find a cake large enough to hold 75 candles if you want to celebrate the birthday of “The King” Richard Petty on Monday. Petty, the seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and owner of 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, including seven Daytona 500 victories, is celebrating his 75th birthday in the same town he was born, Level Cross, N.C. Petty will spend time working at the current location of Petty’s Garage and will later spend time with his family.

Later this week, Petty will fly to a familiar summer spot for him in early July, Daytona Beach, Fla. This is where Petty, family and friends will not only celebrate the 4th of July, but also a birthday dinner in the honor of Petty’s 75th. The dinner, coined “Red, White and Petty Blue,” will take place at the Wyndham Ocean Walk Resort and feature guest speakers who have been a part of Petty’s life. The night will conclude with a fireworks display and a birthday cake made by the TLC hit show “Cake Boss.”

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STP® CELEBRATES 40 YEARS WITH “THE KING”

Brand to Sponsor Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Car
During the Second Annual STP 400 at Kansas Speedway

DANBURY, Conn. (March 27, 2012) – STP signed their first deal with Richard Petty in 1972, forever changing the motorsports sponsorship landscape. This year they are proud to celebrate their 40th Anniversary with “The King.”

DRIVER INTERVIEW: ARIC ALMIROLA

As part of the celebration, STP will be back on the No. 43 Ford Fusion for the second consecutive year during the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. The No. 43 STP Ford Fusion will feature the iconic Petty Blue and STP Day-Glo Red colors and will be piloted by new Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Aric Almirola.

Continue reading “STP Celebrates 40 Years with The King Richard Petty”