NASCAR in November 2004, NASCAR Returned Term Paper

Pages: 8 (3162 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 16  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports


In November 2004, NASCAR returned to its roots Wednesday by lifting a ban on liquor ads on cars, thus, opening the door for teams to be sponsored next season by distilled spirits (NASCAR pp). NASCAR president Mike Helton said, "We felt the time was right ... Attitudes have changed, and spirits companies have a long record of responsible advertising" (NASCAR pp). Beer companies were already in the sport, with Budweiser sponsoring Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s car, and Busch sponsoring a lower-tier racing series (NASCAR pp). Although Crown Royal has agreements with International Speedway Corporation, a sister company also owned by NASCAR's founding France family, NASCAR had, only a few months before, denied a bid from Roush Racing to put a liquor company on the Jeff Burton's car (NASCAR pp). However, NASCAR has been trying to shed its image as a sport that traces its roots to Good Ol' Boys running moonshine through the hills of Georgia and the Carolinas (NASCAR pp).

Enjoying tremendous growth in mainstream popularity, the league landed a $2.8 billion television contract with NBC and Fox that began in 2001, and recently switched the sponsorship of its top division from R.J. Reynold's Winston brand to telecommunications giant Nextel (NASCAR pp). Moreover, Helton has told drivers to watch their language on radio and television, and Earnhardt Jr. was fined and lost points for uttering a vulgarity in a post-race interview on television (NASCAR pp). NASCAR's review before deciding to lift the ban included outreach to advocacy groups such as the National Commission Against Drunk Driving and industry groups such as the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (NASCAR pp).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on NASCAR in November 2004, NASCAR Returned to Assignment

NASCAR, founded more than fifty years ago, has become one of the hottest spectator sports in the world (History pp). The years following World War II saw a surge in car racing popularity, and tracks all over the country began drawing more drivers and bigger crowds (History pp). However, there was little organization and no consistency in the rules, which were different from track to track (History pp). Some tracks were merely makeshift facilities, built to capitalize on crowds who had come to county fairs and other events, while other tracks were more suited to handle the cars, but not the crowds, and still some managed both, but did little to adhere to rules set by other tracks (History pp).

When the soldiers returned at the end of World War II, the demand for new cars jumped in the United States, and the industry that had produced weaponry for five years applied their designs to new cars, resulting in fast, powerful and robust cars (History1 pp). The American West embraced the "sports" cars, the Midwest liked cars with uncovered wheels, and the Southeast chose the stock cars, many of which were modified to carry out the illegal alcohol traffic and used in races (History1 pp).

Stock car racing was born in the Southern Appalachia, where along the curvaceous roads, moonshine runners in their souped coups raced to avoid local law enforcement (Wilson pp). As tales began to spread of close calls and speedy getaways, this taunting led to a need for a proving ground to find out whose car really was the fastest, thus speedway racing was born (Wilson pp).

Prohibition, together with the Depression, gave many poor farmers and sawmill operators an opportunity to make money by bootlegging (Wilson pp). One of the pioneers in the bootlegging business was Junior Johnson, who went on to become one of the most successful NASCAR drivers of his time (Wilson pp). When the Depression hit, Junior's father, a sawmill operator, turned to bootlegging and is said to have run more moonshine stills in the High Country than anyone else (Wilson pp). Junior began running moonshine when he was fourteen years old, and quickly made a name for himself, running liquor through the back roads at night to places such as Winston-Salem, Boone, and Avery to name a few, and during all his travels, he was never apprehended (Wilson pp).

Bootlegging was basically a family business, in which the older men oversaw the operation while the younger men did the more labor-intensive work, including delivering the moonshine to customers (Wilson pp). The delivery car had to be fast and the driver skilled at driving at high speeds on curving mountain back roads, often while being chased by police (Wilson pp). This need for speed led to many modifications in the cars, many of which have had a direct influence on the design of the modern stock car (Wilson pp). In order to haul as much liquor as possible, the rear and passenger seats were removed and cases of moonshine were stacked to the bottom of the windows so passing motorists or law enforcement agents could not see them (Wilson pp). The cases were stacked tight on the passenger side to create a brace for the driver when maneuvering sharp left turns at high speeds, and was especially useful since there were no seatbelts (Wilson pp). Due to the excessive weight of the cases in the trunk, heavy-duty suspensions were added so the cars could outrun police (Wilson pp). These modified cars were able to climb up to 95 mph in first gear, and up to 115 mph in second gear (Wilson pp). They also installed a half-inch metal plate by the radiator, because the police often shot out the radiator as the bootlegger drove by (Wilson pp). Since the rear end was higher off the ground than normal due to the modified suspension systems, bootlegging cars were easy to recognize (Wilson pp).

Bootlegging was only a weekday job, and on the weekend moonshine still owners would get together and debate about which had the fastest car (Wilson pp). All the drivers had a sense of pride in their ability to drive well under unique conditions, and this led to Sunday afternoon meeting in empty pastures where the drivers would line up and race for the finish line to see who really was the fastest (Wilson pp). The owners made bets and the money became the purse and was awarded to the winner (Wilson pp).

The biggest boom period for bootlegging was between the 1930's and early 1950's (Wilson pp). And as the moonshine industry faded away, racing moved in to take its place, and by the mid-1940's, crowds of up to 5,000 people were coming to watch the races (Wilson pp). Fast growing popularity led to more money, and became another incentive to make the switch from whiskey runner to racecar driver (Wilson pp).

Junior Johnson is credited with inventing the "bootleg turn" in which a whiskey hauler jammed the car into second gear and gave the steering wheel a mighty tug to the left, and if successful, the car spun 180 degrees, stayed on the road, and charged off in the opposite direction (Vance pp). In fact, his evasive ability became legendary and his reputation grew to such an extent that Tom Wolfe wrote an essay called "The Last American Hero is Junior Johnson. Yes!" For Esquire magazine in 1965 (Vance pp). Junior was soon racing on Wilkesboro's dirt track and held track records all over the area, when in 1956, he was caught by agents at his father's still and served eleven month at the federal reformatory in Chillicothe, Ohio (Vance pp). When he returned, Detroit was getting into National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, and the tracks were bigger and faster and paved, and at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida, Johnson made his mark (Vance pp).

In 1960, while racing a Chevrolet, Johnson was losing up to 10 mph to the hot Pontiacs, when on a whim coming out of a corner in practice, he nosed his Chevy up near the bumper of a fast Pontiac, and to his surprise he stayed with the Pontiac and went faster than ever (Vance pp). Junior had discovered "drafting," an aerodynamic phenomenon that makes two nose-to-tail cars run faster than either could go alone (Vance pp). He drafted through the 500, hitching rides wherever he could and won the race, adding to his legend, because as a Chevy privateer winning against factory cars, he was a giant killer, hero of every underdog in the South (Vance pp).

Junior raced until 1965, collecting fifty NASCAR wins, and although it was not a record, he established such a reputation that in 1998 he was named the greatest NASCAR driver of all time by Sports Illustrated magazine (Vance pp). He became a NASCAR race team owner and his cars built excellent competition records (Vance pp).

It was Bill France who came up with the idea to build fences around the tracks and set up ticket booths to make money off the events (Wilson pp). He was a major force behind the forging of NASCAR and was voted the league's first president when NASCAR was officially incorporated in February,1948 (Wilson pp). Two months before, France, who operated a local service station and promoted… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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