Crowded tracks, cars that go 300 km / h, passionate races to the finish and drivers who earn millions of dollars. Those are the attributes that make NASCAR the most popular category in the United States and one of the most important in the world.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (something like the National Association of Factory Automobile Racing) has a very particular origin since its first participants were experienced drivers who made their living transporting liquor in the era of Prohibition. When they weren't running away from the police, the intrepid drivers gathered on oval-shaped dirt tracks to compete with each other and demonstrate their driving qualities.
This activity captured the interest of the public and thus the owners of the circuits began to promote their competitions. But it took until the end of World War II for this type of motorsport to gain further impetus from the hand of Bill France Sr., one of the leading racing promoters. The businessman, who also had a past as a driver, brought together other organizers to shape NASCAR, which was born as such in December 1947. Two months later the first competition was played and in 1949, the first tournament that remained for Red Byron (Oldsmobile).
At first the cars did not have major modifications, but that began to change as the championship grew in importance.
Over the years, NASCAR also became a real showcase for companies, mainly for tobacco companies that could not advertise on television. The best example of that came in 1970 when the category struck a deal with the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) and named their tournament the Winston Cup in reference to the RJR cigarette brand.
By then the division had a large number of idols. One of the most important was Richard Petty, who made the number 43 famous on the sides of the sky blue Plymouth Satellite.
Petty achieved seven titles (1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979) and shares the honor of being one of the two most champion pilots with Dale Earnhardt (monarch in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994), who lost his life during a race at Daytona in 2001. Behind these two legends is Jimmie Johnson, who celebrated six times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013).
Another milestone for the category occurred in 1979 when the Daytona 500, the most important date on the calendar, became the first competition to be broadcast in its entirety on national TV. That race was won by Petty, although the most important thing was the fist fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison after touching on the last lap. This event did nothing but highlight the drama and excitement of the sport with which the demand of the television market grew.
NASCAR currently has a 36-race schedule that is broadcast to more than 150 countries, which allows it to have 75 million viewers. Due to this extensive schedule, the teams have headquarters on both coasts of the United States and a large number of vehicles at their disposal. While the pilots are true stars who earn between 25 and 30 million dollars a year in advertising and prizes.
This is NASCAR, a category that had a singular beginning and that today is at the same level as the legendary Formula 1. Something like the American dream fulfilled.