Do you remember when the world was young and life was simple? You would go to school, maybe have some classes outside of school, and then enjoy life as a kid. Some of our childhood memories are filled with fun and excitement, while others are just plain sad. One thing is for sure, growing up was definitely different back then! With the world becoming a smaller place, social media playing a bigger role in our lives, and the internet providing endless information, it’s fair to say technology has truly changed the way we live.
One of the areas technology has not changed is NASCAR, the sport it’s self is from another era. While there have been some changes, especially recently, the sport itself remains mostly the same. In fact, the same can be said about a lot of other things from the past, which is beautiful because then we wouldn’t need to update them! Let’s dive into the history of one of North America’s most historic sports venues and how it ties into the history of NASCAR.
Founded In 1886
The modern iteration of NASCAR is actually a hybrid of different sports, but as we’ve established, the sport itself is pretty old. It all began back in 1886 in the South when James E. Hart, the great grand-nephew of Sam Hart, the founder of the NASCAR franchise, decided he wanted to create a race track of his own. Inspired by the sport of cycling, he built a track and named it after his late uncle. Later that year he entered his first race and won, becoming extremely successful at creating his own tracks and promoting them throughout the South.
The sport grew in popularity and so did Hart’s tracks, especially after he began using electricity in the races, which made them much more exciting. In 1908 he hired future US Senator Edward T. Waggoner to work as his chief mechanic and engineer. Waggoner had previously worked for the Indianapolis Speedway and designed that track’s grand stand, which is still in use today. This is how Waggoner came to be known as the father of the modern grand stand. Many of the structures Hart created are still there, including the track itself. Named after him, the Waggoner Grand Stand is a popular location at all of Hart’s NASCAR tracks. It was originally built for stock car races in 1916, but has been expanded upon over the years.
A Mix Of Cyclism And Automobile Racing
It wasn’t just Hart who brought cycling to NASCAR. The sport had actually taken off in the United States a few years before Hart started creating tracks, especially in New York City. The men who started the American Bicycle League in 1878 were actually looking for a way to promote their sport, as cycling wasn’t yet legal in many parts of the country, and it wasn’t encouraged in others. The league organized track races in the Philadelphia region and by 1884 some of the biggest names in cycling were participating. This is when cycling and car racing became combined as one sport, which eventually led to NASCAR. Some of the cycling pioneers even helped design the original NASCAR tracks. It wasn’t just about promoting cycling though, there were also monetary gains to be made, as automobile racing in the late 1800s was a very popular and profitable sport.
It wasn’t only about the money though, it was also about the socialization of young men. A lot of cycling champions in the late 1800s were single-handedly responsible for getting young men off the streets and teaching them how to be good citizens. It wasn’t always easy being a kid in the 1800s, for the most part, life was very different back then. Crime was high, especially in the big cities, which meant there was a lot of violence, and for the most part, only the strongest and fittest men could survive. The founders of NASCAR wanted to create an environment where young men could feel comfortable and learn to be strong and independent.
Continued Growth In The 20s And 30s
The early 20th century was a fantastic time for NASCAR with both the bicycle racing boom and the cars of the time period helping fuel continued growth. Tracks were built all over the country and even outside of the country, like Canada, which had its own version of the sport called Can-Am, a mix of car and motorcycle racing. The growth of the sport also meant more jobs for those who worked there, as there were plenty of openings due to the increasing popularity of automobile racing. Even after the Great Depression, which hit hard in the early 1930s and prevented many from having money to spend on motor vehicles, the sport still managed to maintain a good amount of popularity. Some of the bigger names in cycling during this time frame, like Tommy Milton and George Van Horn, became fixtures in the sport as well and were responsible for many of the innovations we see today, like the position of the checkered flag and the yellow flag.
The Second World War And The Birth Of The Modern-Day NASCAR Club
The Second World War had a big impact on NASCAR, not just because of the conflict, but also because of the shortages of many key components that were needed to maintain the country’s automotive manufacturing. There were also huge amounts of American soldiers who were stationed in the UK, which was where a lot of the key parts came from. When the soldiers returned home, they brought along their love of cars and motorcycling and many joined racing clubs. The demand for cars also increased, not just for the people, but for businesses as well. The war effectively gave birth to the modern NASCAR Club, which began in 1946 when the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was formed by a group of former competitors who wanted to maintain professionalism in the sport.
In the decades that followed, the membership of the NASCAR Club changed as the sport continued to evolve, with the addition of sophisticated statistical analysis and a more scientific approach slowly taking hold. While the traditional values of patience, loyalty, and teamwork still hold true. Many of the biggest names in NASCAR are famous for their philanthropy, especially in the last few years as the sport has seen a good amount of profit. As the economy changes and evolves, it’s important to remember that there are still some basic rules that have not changed, like honesty and integrity.