How Moonshine Bootlegging Gave Rise to NASCAR
What? YES! Fun Fact!
Being that June 4th was National Moonshine Day and June 14th is National Bourbon day we decided to do some research...just for fun of course! Moonshining dates back to the 1700s, when officials imposed taxes on liquor sales. Farmers throughout the south took to making their own batches to sell for extra money, tax-free, to counteract the effects of extreme poverty in the region.
Each hidden distillery needed to use runners—drivers in understated or otherwise ordinary-looking cars who could smuggle moonshine from the stills to thirsty customers across the region. On the outside, the cares looked "stock" normal enough to avoid attention. But inside, both the mechanics of the cars and the drivers behind the wheel were far from ordinary. The vehicles were outfitted with heavy-duty shocks and springs, safeguarding the jars containing the hooch from breaking on bumpy mountain roads. The seats in the back were usually removed so more booze could fit. And high-powered engines gave the cars extra speed to outrun any cops and tax agents along the route.
They became known for their high-speed reckless driving—coining maneuvers like the "bootleg turn" in which the drivers would quickly turn the car around in a controlled skid, either to elude the cops chasing them or to play a game of chicken with them, driving head-on at full speed until they abruptly changed course. When the runners weren’t smuggling alcohol, many spent their free time racing other runners for bragging rights.
From the 1930s on, once Prohibition had ended, demand for bootlegged alcohol waned and the runners found themselves with souped-up cars yet out of work—though they continued to take part in organized races. On December 14, 1947, one of these runners, Big Bill France, held a meeting with other drivers, car owners, and mechanics to finally put in place some standardized rules for the races—thus NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, was born. The first official race was held two months later.
What are your thoughts about this fun fact? Are you a moonshine fan? Are you a NASCAR fan? Leave a comment below and let us know.