A brief history of NASCAR
In the beginning, all was chaos.
In 1947 Bill France was was Director of the National Championship Stock Car Circuit (NCSCC). He also staged
events under the Stock Car Auto Racing Society - but there was some objection to the acronym "SCARS" for that
1948 Eventually, in Feburary 1948, the National Association for Stock
Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was incorporated, with Bill France as President. They had three different divisions.
Modified Stocks, Roadsters, and Strictly Stocks. Fifty Two NASCAR Modified races were scheduled for 1948, and
Red Byron was crowned Champion for 1948.
NASCAR was not alone in the sanctioning of stock car races in 1949. There was the National Stock Car
Racing Association (NSCRA) (directed by Bruton Smith), there was the United Stock Car Racing Association (USCRA),
the National Auto Racing League (NARL), the American Stock Car Racing Association (ASCRA), and of course the
American Automobile Association (AAA). But Bill France was determined to make his idea of "strictly stock" work,
while everyone else concentrated on the Modifieds and Roadsters.
In February 1949, a five lap (ten mile) event for Strictly Stock cars was scheduled by NASCAR at the two mile
paved Broward Speedway in Fort Lauderdale Florida, where the top billed race was a 100 mile National Grand Prix
Roadster race. That very first Strictly Stock race was won by Benny Georgeson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in a
In an effort to compete with Bruton Smith who was President of NSCRA and also Chairman of the Charlotte Motor
Speedway, (not the same as the speedway that exists today) Bill France scheduled a main attraction of Strictly
Stock race of 150 miles (called a Marathon by France) on a 3/4 mile dirt track in Charlotte, NC on June 19,
1949. Of note, Sara Christian qualified for the race and started 13th. Buck Baker was there, along with Jim
Paschal, Herb Thomas, Bob Flock, Lee Petty and Glenn Dunnaway. Dunnaway won the race a full three laps ahead of
second place Jim Roper. However, the officials wondered about the unusual stability of the "Strictly Stock"
Ford of Dunnaway, and inspected the car after the race. Moonshiner springs were found on the rear and he was
disqualified for not being "strictly stock", leaving Jim Roper as the winner driving a Lincoln. Bill France
considered the race a success though, and scheduled seven more "Strictly Stock" races for the remainder of the
year. By the end of the year, the Grand Nationl Division would replace the Modified Division as top billing
at events. And, by the way, Sara Christian finished that first race in 14th position winning $50.00 - Lee
Petty finished 17th winning $25.00.
The second "Strictly Stock" race was held July 10,1949 on Daytona Beach (beach and highway course 4.15 miles)
for a distance of 166 miles (40 laps). Red Byron the winner in an Oldsmobile (purse was $2,000.00). Six
of the top ten finishs were Olds, two were Mercury, one Lincoln, and one Chrysler.
The 1949 season ended with Red Byron the winner of the points. He had 6 starts of the 8 races, 2 wins, 4 top
five finishes, and winnings of $5,800.00 for the year. Lee Petty finished second in the points. Five of the
seasons eight races were won with Oldsmobiles, two with Lincolns, and one Plymouth.
The 1950 season was all Chaos again. Two races held at Lakewood Speedway outside Atlanta after the end of the
1949 season, and sanctioned by NASCAR - carried no Chanpionship points. The races were won by Tim Flock and
June Cleveland. Then on December 5, 1949, the Central States Racing Association (CSRA) announced it would
sanction a 500 mile race in the 1950 season at Darlington Raceway. Bill France decided that NASCAR must also
have a 500 mile race to compete, but when he found out that the CSRA was having trouble getting drivers to send
in their entry forms, Bill France agreed to "co-sanction" the event with the CSRA which would bring in NASCAR
drivers also. 75 cars qualified and started the race, with the slowest qualifier being Johnny Mantz at 73.460
MPH. The winner of the race was Johnny Mantz with an average speed of 75.250 MPH driving a Plymouth.
Ford would score their first NASCAR win at Dayton, OH in a 100 miler on a 1/2 mile dirt track June 25, 1950,
driven by Jimmy Florian (who drove the race shirtless).
But, during the 1950 season there were rules against NASCAR drivers competing in non-NASCAR sanctioned events
also. Both Red Byron and Lee Petty were stripped of all Championship points for competing in non-NASCAR events
during the year. The 1950 season ended with Bill Rexford winning the Championship, 17 starts of 19 races,
1 win, 5 top five, and 11 top ten finishes. Among other famous names from that season - Fireball Roberts
finshed second in points, Lee Petty third, Curtis Turner fifth, Johnny Mantz sixth, Herb Thomas eleventh,
Buck Baker twelfth, Cotton Owens thirteenth.
Began the era of the Hudson Hornet and factory backing for the Marshall Teague team. It was also a year
when Marshall Teague, Curtis Turner, Jack Smaith, Bob Flock, Billy Carden, Ed Samples, Jerry Wimbish, and for
the second year in a row, Red Byron, had all their Championship points stripped away because they competed in
a non-NASCAR event. There were 41 official races to the season - but several of these were scheduled to occur
in different places on the same date. i.e. races were held in Charlotte, NC on the same day as races in Dayton,
OH - both paying the same prize money and points. Of the 41 races, twenty were won by Oldsmobile, twelve were
won by Hudsons, three by Studebaker, two by Plymouth, two by Mercury, and one each by Nash and Chrysler.
The Championship went to Herb Thomas (Hudson) with 34 starts of the 41 races, 7 wins, 16 top five, and 19 top
Brought some sponsors to NASCAR. Pure oil contributed Championship money and fuel to competitors. Champion
Spark Plug contributed Championship money for the Championship of several NASCAR divisions, along with Wynn's
motor products. The first known use of a radio in a car happened February 9th 1952 in a 125 mile Sportsman
race on the beach at Daytona. A second attempt to use a radio was in Darlington (Speedway division) when Tom
Bonadies strapped an Army surplus walkie talkie to his leather helmet, but these were quite large and heavy.
Twenty seven of the 34 races are won by Hudson, three by Olds, three by Plymouth, and one by Chrysler.
Tim FLock (Hudson) would win the Championship with 33 starts of 34 races, 8 wins, 22 top five, and 25 top ten
Saw the first tire rules. In the first 500 mile race at Darlington (1950), Johnny Mantz had used a hard
rubber tire which was made for trucks - even though it was the same size as those for passenger cars so it
passed inspection, it was built slightly different and made to last longer. It was not covered in the rules
of the time, but it gave him an advantage over the other drivers and won him the race. So, in 1953 NASCAR
issued a special rule for the 300 mile race scheduled at the Raleigh Speedway barring any racing tires. By
the way, the winner of that race credited his pit crew with giving him the win. His one and only stop where
he took on two new tires and filled the tank took only one minute forty seven seconds.
Another new rule was that if the driver/team did not send in an entry form prior to the race, NO Championship
points would be awarded - no matter how they finished the race.
In a "statement" issued to team owners and drivers, NASCAR suggested the use of roll bars and seat hold downs,
but did not actually make it a rule.
Twenty two of the 37 races were won by Hudson - Herb Thomas won the Championship driving a Hudson, and had 37
starts of the 37 races, 12 wins, 27 top five and 31 top ten finishes.
Saw more involvement from factories and also from some sponsors. Wheel spindles failed often on the
"Strictly stock" cars, so some manufactures produced "severe duty" parts and supplied them to race teams
running their brand of cars. Pure Oil Company - already associated with NASCAR supplying both prize money
and fuel - announced they had produced a racing tire with all nylon cord and would sell them for $37.90 each.
NASCAR of course, relaxed their rule against racing tires to allow the nylon corded tire (it was still a
passenger car tire with full tread and could be purchased by the public for road use).
1954 also saw the arrival of the hard helmet for the driver - at $35.00 some drivers tossed the old leather
helmet and strapped on this new brain bucket. There were no rules concerning helmets however.
NASCAR's first road race would take place at Linden, NJ - June 13th 1954, a 100 mile event on a paved road
course - and it was won by Al Keller driving a Jaguar.
Lee Petty would win the Championship with 34 starts of 37 races, 7 wins, 24 top five, and 32 top ten finishes.
Petty drove both Dodges and Chryslers during the season. Hudson would win "only" 17 of the 37 races for the season.
A disasterous year for motor racing around the world. In March, and in May, two drivers in separate but
particularly horrible chashes at Langhorne Speedway in PA die. In May at Indianapolis, Bill Vukovich dies in
another horrible crash during the race. Three more drivers on the AAA circuit die in crashes in 1955.
On June 1, 1955 at the 24 hours of LeMans road race, a Mercedes driven by Pierre Levegh clips the wheel of an
Austin Healy, spins out of control and into the crowd. Death toll is more than 100 people. There are demands
made to the U.S. President and to Congress that all forms of auto racing be forever banned in the United States.
AAA spokesman announces that following the 1955 season, AAA will no longer be involved with auto racing of any
kind. Bill France is quoted as saying; "Automobile racing is here to stay like sex, the atom bomb, and ice
1955 also brought Carl Kiekhaefer to NASCAR racing. And he brought Chryslers along with the sponsorship of his
own company Mercury Outboard Motors. When other strictly stock cars were either driven to the track, towed on
a towbar behind a pickup truck, or carried on an open trailer, the Kiekhaefer team cars arrived in big enclosed
haulers with advertising on the trucks, much like the teams have today. His teams were incredible and almost
unbeatable. In the short time he fielded cars (1955 and 1956) - his teams won 52 of the 90 events entered.
1955 also saw the first ever Grand National win by a Chevrolet. Fonty Flock in a Chevrolet won the 100 miler on
the half mile dirt track at Columbia, NC March 26, 1955.
Of note; in July of 1955, Lee Petty became the first driver to have a fan club - no dues, but to be a member
you had to drive a Chrysler.
Herb Thomas would score the only win for Hudson, whose dominance was at an end. That dominance was to be taken
up by Chrysler however in both the Kiekhaefer and the Petty owned machines.
Tim Flock won the Championship (driving a Kiekhaefer Chrysler 300) with 38 starts of 45 races, 18 wins, 32 top
five, and 33 top ten finishes.
Brought full factory backing from several manufactures. Their advertising in print and in other media
often were far from truthful concerning the success of their NASCAR racing though.
With all the winning the Kiekhaefer Chryslers had done in 1955 and 1956, Carl Kiekhaefer walked away from
NASCAR racing at the end of the 1956 season. His driver Buck Baker won the Championship with 48 starts,
14 wins, 31 top five, and 39 top ten finishes, driving Kiekhaefer Chryslers and Dodges. Note: The season
consisted of 56 races - but some were held concurrently with a race on the east coast the same day as one
on the west coast.
Ralph Earnhardt finished second in a Ford in his first Grand National race at Hickory, NC, November 11, 1956.
CONTINUE TO 1957
Last Updated by Mike Wicks on Tuesday, 19 October, 2004 at 1:10 AM.
© 2003-2005 Mike Wicks