NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) was founded in 1948 by “Big Bill” France at Daytona Beach, Florida. France was a former racer and auto mechanic who had heard of the great land speed races at Daytona with a tradition dating back to 1903. Cars were “flying” down the beach before the Wright Brothers had flown in the air. France left the snow and cold of Washington, DC and settled his family in the “World Center of Speed”…Daytona Beach, Florida…and saw Sir Malcolm Campbell set a Land Speed Record of over 276 MPH in his famed “Bluebird” in 1935. Campbell was determined to break 300MPH…but NOT at Daytona…the bumpy, unpredictable sand was just too dangerous. He went to the Bonneville Salt Flats and broke the record.
With the departure of Campbell to Utah, the land speed record attempts headed to the Salt Flats…leaving Daytona without their prime source of racing revenue. Bill France to the rescue! France helped organize a race on the sands of Daytona Beach in 1936 utilizing NOT exotic world record breaking machines…but everyday STOCK cars that could be purchased in any automobile dealership then driven to the race…in the race…and home from the race. They looked just like the cars the fans in the grandstand drove to work. What a brilliant concept. Races were “crap shoots” as they were held at the mercy of the tides. Cars roared down the beach…hitting seagulls and sometimes crashing into the surf…then turned onto paved highway A1A for the backside of the oval course.
The unpredictability of the weather and the tide, and the nightmare of crowd control on a public beach and highway led Bill France to abandon the beach/road course at Daytona in 1959…after he had completed his masterpiece…the 2 ½ mile superspeedway at Daytona that featured 31 degree banking and speeds FASTER than the Indianapolis 500…a racetrack from which France had been evicted from the garage area in 1954. He was determined at that time to build his own racetrack that would outshine Indy. Many would agree that he succeeded.
The founding of NASCAR in 1948 was a pivotal moment in stock car racing. It became the flagship organization that put together consistent rules, regulations, and a national point system whereby a true “National Champion” would be crowned at the end of the year. Purses were guaranteed…and paid to the drivers. No longer did “flim flam” promoters abscond with the gate receipts halfway through the race. NASCAR brought credibility and legitimacy to stock car racing.
NASCAR FAST FACTS:
NASCAR is considered the #2 sport in the United States…behind the National Football League…but ahead of Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.
Claim 75 Million Fans (1 out of 3 adults in the US)
40% Female (Females enjoy the fact that the race cars look much like the cars they drive everyday. (Unlike the exotic Formula One and Indy Car single seaters.) All current Cup drivers are male and many are attractive single guys whom NASCAR heavily promotes as “clean cut All American boys” on numerous TV and radio commercials. NASCAR drivers rarely get into trouble for drug, alcohol and spousal abuse situations that are all too common in other professional sports.)
Attendance at races average 125,000
17 of the 20 highest attended sporting events in the USA are NASCAR races
Some NASCAR events draw more fans than the Super Bowl, a World Series game and NBA finals game COMBINED
TV Audience: 7.2 Million per race in 2007
NASCAR delivers programming to 150 countries in 25 languages
(800,000 audience on US American Forces Network)
Daytona 500 TV audience: 17 Million
With all of NASCAR’s sanctions they incorporate nearly 1,300 events at 95 tracks in 33 U.S. States, Canada and Mexico.
NASCAR is the #1 sport in fan loyalty. NASCAR fans are THREE TIMES as likely to seek out and purchase sponsors’ products as non-fans. More Fortune 500 companies rely on NASCAR to build their brands than any other sport.