Shortly after the invention of the automobile, Americans fell in love with car racing. Europe started the tradition of setting speed records, but starting in the 1920s America started setting many of these speed records. In fact, most of these world records were being set in Daytona Beach.
That’s right, even in the early days car racing centered around Daytona Beach. Racing fans from all over the United States and the rest of the world started coming to Daytona Beach to watch the Daytona Beach road course. For those of you who don’t know you NASCAR, the Daytona 500 is the biggest race in NASCAR today.
As many know, stock car racing spawned out of America’s Prohibition period. The bootleggers needed fast cars to out run the police when they were transporting illegal whiskey throughout the south and in particular the mountains of Appalachia. These bootleggers started to modify their cars to increase their speed and performance. In order to out run the law, you needed to have a great car. And, as the bootleggers upped the ante, the police did so too. These suped up cars eventually turned into the stock cars that we recognize today. The real life game of cops and robbers turned into the sports that millions of Americans love today.
After the end of Prohibition in 1933, Americans did not want to give up their fast cars. Many Americans living in the South East of the United States started to set up races featuring their tricked out cars. Once these races started being held, the fans started pouring in to watch the car races. From this moment, stock car racing was born. The birth place of these early races was North Carolina. To this day NASCAR is huge in North Carolina.
Today, NASCAR is popular all across the country. While many of the nascar drivers still come out of North Carolina and Tennessee, many more are coming from states like California, New York and Indiana. No longer is the sport just enjoyed in the south. Cities like Philadelphia are now some of the largest markets for television viewers of the sport. Race tracks have been built in Las Vegas, New Hampshire and many non-southern states.
While the South East region of the United States was the birthplace of NASCAR, today the sport is loved throughout the county. Today there are race tracks all across America and it is the fastest growing sport in the country. Despite its regional roots, NASCAR is today the most popular sport in the United States. Every Sunday during race season, over 100,000 screaming fans show up to see the NASCAR drivers start their engines. Not bad for a bunch of bootleggers.