The Early Laps of Stock Car Racing

A History of the Sport and Business through 1974


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About the Book

The first organized, sanctioned American stock car race took place in 1908 on a road course around Briarcliff, New York—staged by one of America’s early speed mavens, William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. A veteran of the early Ormond–Daytona Beach speed trials, Vanderbilt brought the Grand Prize races to Savannah, Georgia, the same year. What began as a rich man’s sport eventually became the working man’s sport, finding a home in the South with the infusion of moonshiners and their souped-up cars.
Based in large part on statements of drivers, car owners and others garnered from archived newspaper articles, this history details the development of stock car racing into a megasport, chronicling each season through 1974. It examines the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing’s 1948 incorporation documents and how they differ from the agreements adopted at NASCAR’s organization meeting two months earlier. The meeting’s participants soon realized that their sport was actually owned by William H.G. “Bill” France, and its consequential growth turned his family into billionaires. The book traces the transition from dirt to asphalt to superspeedways, the painfully slow advance of safety measures and the shadowy economics of the sport.

About the Author(s)

Betty Boles Ellison, a Lexington, Kentucky, journalist turned historian, has provided research for David Grubin’s PBS production, Abraham and Mary Lincoln, A House Divided; The Kentucky Encyclopedia; the Texas Historic Commission, and CBS Sports.

Bibliographic Details

Betty Boles Ellison
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 296
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7934-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1622-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Introduction 5

1. In the Beginning 9

2. Beach-Road Racing in Daytona 18

3. Whiskey Roots, Red Georgia Clay and Carolina Back Roads 25

4. Hardened Heroes 34

5. A Lily White Sport 41

6. Beer, Broads and Unadulterated Bull 49

7. NASCAR’s Early Years 56

8. Dollar Signs Everywhere 63

9. Drivers’ Revolving Door 72

10. The Finest Years 84

11. France Gets a Prize 91

12. Kiekhaefer Factor 96

13. Big Boys Come to Town 109

14. Whatever Happened to Marshall Teague? 118

15. Charlotte, Atlanta Join the Super Speedways 124

16. Caution Flags Everywhere 135

17. Those Dreaded Teamsters 145

18. Turner’s Back 159

19. The Man NASCAR Kept Overlooking 165

20. Big Boys Return 172

21. Who Was Running NASCAR? 187

22. Eastaboga and the PDA 194

23. Not as Easy as It Once Was 205

24. Money Infusion and Restrictor Plates 213

25. A New Boss Takes Over 225

26. Total Control 235

27. Ever Evolving NASCAR Rules 244

Chapter Notes 253

Bibliography 269

Index 273

Book Reviews & Awards

“The racing aficionado or sports history buff will find this text interesting”—ProtoView.