The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is an Americanauto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock-car racing. The privately owned company was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1948, and his son, Jim France, has been the CEO since August 6, 2018. The company is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida. Each year, NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 48 US states as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Europe.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Daytona Beach supplanted France and Belgium as the preferred location for world land speed records. After a historic race between Ransom Olds and Alexander Winton in 1903, 15 records were set on what became the Daytona Beach Road Course between 1905 and 1935. Daytona Beach had become synonymous with fast cars in 1936. Drivers raced on a 4.1-mile (6.6 km) course, consisting of a 1.5–2.0-mile (2.4–3.2 km) stretch of beach as one straightaway, and a narrow blacktop beachfront highway, State Road A1A, as the other. The two straights were connected by two tight, deeply rutted and sand covered turns at each end.
Stock car racing in the United States has its origins in bootlegging during Prohibition, when drivers ran bootleg whiskey made primarily in the Appalachian region of the United States. Bootleggers needed to distribute their illicit products, and they typically used small, fast vehicles to better evade the police. Many of the drivers would modify their cars for speed and handling, as well as increased cargo capacity.
The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 dried up some of their business, but by then Southerners had developed a taste for moonshine, and a number of the drivers continued "runnin' shine", this time evading the "revenuers" who were attempting to tax their operations. The cars continued to improve, and by the late 1940s, races featuring these cars were being run for pride and profit. These races were popular entertainment in the rural Southern United States, and they are most closely associated with the Wilkes County region of North Carolina. Most races in those days were of modified cars. Street vehicles were lightened and reinforced.
On March 8, 1936, a collection of drivers gathered at Daytona Beach, Florida. The drivers brought coupes, hardtops, convertibles, and sports cars to compete in an event to determine the fastest cars, and best drivers. Throughout the race, the heavier cars got bogged down in the sand, while the lightweight Fords navigated the ruts of the course, eventually claiming the top 6 finishes for the race. Of the 27 cars that started the event, only 10 managed to survive the ordeal, as officials halted the event 10 miles short of the scheduled 250-mile distance. Driver Milt Marion was declared the winner, and a young Bill France placed 5th at the end of the day.
By early 1947, Bill France saw the potential for a unified series of racing competitors. France announced the foundation of the "National Championship Stock Car Circuit", otherwise known as NCSCC. France approached the American Automobile Association, or AAA, in hopes of obtaining financial backing for the venture. When the AAA declined support of the venture, France proceeded to announce a set of rules and awards for the NCSCC. France declared that the winner of the 1947 NCSCC season would receive $1000.00 and a trophy. The season would begin in January 1947 at the Daytona Beach track, and conclude in Jacksonville the following December. Nearly 40 events were logged during the season, and attendance often exceeded the venue's capacity. The competitors were paid as promised, and by the end of the season, driver Fonty Flock was declared the season champion after winning 7 events of the 24 that he entered. Bill France delivered the $1000 and 4-foot high trophy to Flock at the end of the season, along with $3000 in prize money to other drivers who competed throughout the season.