When Did NASCAR Start

Wondering when did NASCAR start? The National Asscociation for Stock Car Racing began shortly after World War II, taking over for smaller organizations that regulated races around the Daytona motor speedway.

Early NASCAR History
William France Sr. was a mechanic who was drawn to the racing scene at Daytona in the 1930s. Over the years, he watched as promoters short-changed drivers on payouts and saw how some drivers used technology rather than skill to win. France believed that a single organization to represent drivers and promoters would solve these problems and help racing become more popular. He began organizing and turned NASCAR into a reality in February 1948. 

NASCAR races were held two to three times per week. Most of the races were on short tracks. Some of the tracks were paved and some were dirt. Investors started building speedways for NASCAR races. The first "super speedway" built was Darlington.

NASCAR Grows
In the 1950s, Harold Brasington completed the construction of Darlington Raceway. The track was built on land owned by Sherman Ramsey, who had a minnow pond on the land that he wanted to keep. Designers worked around the pond, creating an egg-shaped track.

When Richard Petty was racing at Darlington in the 1970s, he flipped four times and suffered a broken shoulder as a result of the crash. This crash at Darlington led to the use of the driver's safety net. NASCAR continues to mandate changes in track design, vehicle construction and driver restraint systems in an effort to protect drivers. Over the years, however, the organization has been criticized for implementing new safety procedures too slowly.

Daytona International Speedway hosted the first Daytona 500 on February 22, 1959. The first race had a field of 59 cars, and there were 41,000 spectators. The winnings totaled $67,760. Johnny Beauchamp went to Victory Lane in that race, though a clip of a newsreel played 61 hours later showed that Lee Petty was the winner by a few feet.

Today, the Daytona 500 is NASCAR's most prestigious race. It is the biggest and richest of all of the NASCAR races. Daytona 500 tickets sell out every year, and the purse has grown to more than $18 million. The winner in 2007, Kevin Harvick, took home more than $1.5 million.

The top NASCAR races are the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, Coca-Cola 600, the Ford 400 and the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. NASCAR boasts 75 million fans, and is second only to the National Football league in television ratings in North America.

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