|National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.
|Jurisdiction|| United States
|Regional affiliation||North America|
|Headquarters|| Daytona Beach, FL
New York City, NY
|Chief Exec||Brian France|
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr. NASCAR is the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in the United States. The three largest racing series sanctioned by NASCAR are the Sprint Cup Series, the Nationwide Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. It also oversees NASCAR Local Racing, the Whelen Modified Tour, the Whelen All-American Series, and the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 states, and Canada. NASCAR has presented exhibition races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, Mexico, and Calder Park Raceway in Australia.
NASCAR's headquarters are located in Daytona Beach, Florida, although it also maintains offices in four North Carolina cities: Charlotte, Mooresville, Concord, and Conover. Regional offices are also located in New York City, Los Angeles, Bentonville, Arkansas, and international offices in Mexico City and Toronto. Additionally, owing to its southern roots, all but a handful of NASCAR teams are still based in North Carolina, especially near Charlotte.
NASCAR is one of the most viewed professional sports in terms of television ratings in the United States. In fact, professional football is the only sport in the United States to hold more viewers than NASCAR. Internationally, NASCAR races are broadcast in over 150 countries. NASCAR holds 17 of the top 20 attended single-day sporting events in the world, and claims 75 million fans who purchase over $3 billion in annual licensed product sales. Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR more than any other motor sport., although this has been in decline since the early 2000s.
Early stock car racing
In the 1920s and 1930s, Daytona Beach became known as the place to set world land speed records, supplanting France and Belgium as the preferred location for land speed records, with eight consecutive world records set between 1927 and 1935. After a historic race between Ransom Olds and Alexander Winton in 1903, the beach became a mecca for racing enthusiasts and 15 records were set on what became the Daytona Beach road course between 1905 and 1935. By the time the Bonneville Salt Flats became the premier location for pursuit of land speed records, in 1936, Daytona beach had become synonymous with fast cars. Drivers raced on a 4.1-mile (6.6 km) course, consisting of a 1.5 to 2-mile (3.2 km) stretch of beach as one straightaway, and a narrow blacktop beachfront highway, A1A, as the other. The two straights were connected by 2 tight, deeply rutted and sand covered turns at each end.
Stock car racing in the United States has its origins in bootlegging during Prohibition, when drivers ran bootleg whiskey made primarily in the Appalachian region of the United States. Bootleggers needed to distribute their illicit products, and they typically used small, fast vehicles to better evade the police. Many of the drivers would modify their cars for speed and handling, as well as increased cargo capacity, and some of them came to love the fast-paced driving down twisty mountain roads.
The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 dried up some of their business, but by then Southerners had developed a taste for moonshine, and a number of the drivers continued "runnin' shine," this time evading the "revenuers" who were attempting to tax their operations. The cars continued to improve, and by the late 1940s, races featuring these cars were being run for pride and profit. These races were popular entertainment in the rural Southern United States, and they are most closely associated with the Wilkes County region of North Carolina. Most races in those days were of modified cars. Street vehicles were lightened and reinforced.
William France, Sr.
Mechanic William France, Sr., moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, from Washington, DC, in 1935 to escape the Great Depression. He was familiar with the history of the area from the land speed record attempts. France entered the 1936 Daytona event, finishing fifth. He took over running the course in 1938. He promoted a few races before World War II.
France had the notion that people would enjoy watching " stock cars" race. Drivers were frequently victimized by unscrupulous promoters who would leave events with all the money before drivers were paid. In 1947, he decided this racing would not grow without a formal sanctioning organization, standardized rules, regular schedule, and an organized championship. On December 14, 1947 France began talks with other influential racers and promoters at the Ebony Bar at the Streamline Hotel at Daytona Beach, Florida, that ended with the formation of NASCAR on February 21, 1948.
Erwin "Cannonball" Baker
The first Commissioner of NASCAR was Erwin "Cannonball" Baker. A former stock car, motorcycle, and open-wheel racer who competed in the Indianapolis 500 and set over one hundred land speed records. Baker earned most of his fame for his transcontinental speed runs. Baker would prove a car's worth by driving it from New York to Los Angeles. After his death, the famous transcontinental race the ' Cannonball Run' and the film that was inspired by it were both named in his honour. Baker is enshrined in the Automotive Hall of Fame, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame. This level of honour and success in each diverse racing association earned Baker the title of "King of the Road".
Bob "Barky" Barkhimer
In the early 1950s the United States Navy stationed Bill France, Jr., at the Moffett Federal Airfield in northern California. His father asked him to look up Bob Barkhimer in San Jose, California. Barkhimer was a star of midget car racing from the World War II era, and later ran about 22 different speedways as the head of the California Stock Car Racing Association. Young Bill developed a relationship with Bob Barkhimer and his partner, Margo Burke. He went to events with them, stayed weekends with them and generally became very familiar with racing on the west coast. "Barky", as he was called by his friends, journeyed to Daytona Beach and met with Bill France, Sr. In the spring of 1954, NASCAR became a stock car sanctioning body on the Pacific Coast under Barky.
On March 8, 1936, a collection of drivers gathered at Daytona Beach, Florida. The drivers brought coupes. hardtops, convertibles, and sports cars to compete in an event to determine the fastest cars, and best drivers. Throughout the race, the heavier cars got bogged down in the sand, while the lightweight Fords navigated the ruts of the course, eventually claiming the top 6 finishes for the race. Of the 27 cars that started the event, only 10 managed to survive the ordeal, as officials halted the event 10 miles short of the scheduled 250 mile distance. Driver Milt Marion was declared the winner, and a young Bill France placed 5th at the end of the day.
By early 1947 Bill France saw the potential for a unified series of racing competitors. France announced the foundation of the "National Championship Stock Car Series", otherwise known as NCSSC. France approached the American Automobile Association, or AAA, in hopes of obtaining financial backing for the venture. When the AAA declined support of the venture, France proceeded to announce a set of rules and awards for the NCSSC. France declared that the winner of the 1947 NCSSC season would receive $1000.00, and a trophy. The season would begin in January 1947 at the Daytona Beach track, and conclude in Jacksonville the following December. Nearly 40 events were logged during the season, and attendance often exceeded the venue's capacity. The competitors were paid as promised, and by the end of the season, driver Fonty Flock was declared the season champion after winning 7 events of the 24 that he entered. Bill France delivered the $1000 and 4 foot high trophy to Flock at the end of the season, along with $3000 in prize money to other drivers who competed throughout the season.
At the end of the 1947 season, Bill France announced that there would be a series of meetings held at the Streamline Hotel in Florida, beginning on December 14, 1947. At 1:00 pm, France called to order the 35 men who represented the NCSCC on the top floor of the hotel. The meeting was the first of four seminars in which France would outline his vision of an organized group of race car drivers.
NASCAR was founded by William France, Sr., on February 21, 1948 with the help of several other drivers of the time. The points system was written on a bar room napkin. The original plans for NASCAR included three distinct divisions: Modified, Roadster, and Strictly Stock. The Modified and Roadster classes were seen as more attractive to fans. It turned out that NASCAR fans wanted nothing to do with the roadsters, which fans perceived as a Northeast or Midwest series. The roadster division was quickly abandoned, while the modified division now operates as the Whelen Modified Tour. The Strictly Stock division was put on hold as American automobile manufacturers were unable to produce family sedans quickly enough to keep up with post-World War II demand. The 1948 schedule featured 52 Modified dirt track races. The sanctioning body hosted its first event at Daytona Beach on February 15, 1948. Red Byron beat Marshall Teague in the Modified division race. Byron won the 1948 national championship. Things had changed dramatically by 1949, and the Strictly Stock division was able to debut with a 20-mile (32 km) exhibition in February near Miami.
The first NASCAR "Strictly Stock" race ever was held at Charlotte Speedway, although this is not the same track as the Charlotte Motor Speedway that is a fixture on current NASCAR schedule. The race was held on June 19, 1949 and won by driver Jim Roper when Glenn Dunnaway was disqualified after the discovery of his altered rear springs. Initially, the cars were known as the "Strictly Stock Division" and raced with virtually no modifications on the factory models. This division was renamed the "Grand National" division beginning in the 1950 season. Over a period of more than a decade, modifications for both safety and performance were allowed, and by the mid-1960s, the vehicles were purpose-built race cars with a stock-appearing body.
The first NASCAR competition held outside of the U.S. was in Canada, where on July 1, 1952, Buddy Shuman won a 200-lap race on a half-mile (800 m) dirt track in Stamford Park, Ontario, near Niagara Falls.
The "NASCAR Sprint Cup Series" is the sport's highest level of professional competition. It is consequently the most popular and most profitable NASCAR series. The 2009 Sprint Cup season consists of 36 races over 10 months. Writers and fans often use "Cup" to refer to the Sprint Cup series and the ambiguous use of "NASCAR" as a synonym for the Sprint Cup Series is common. Jimmie Johnson has won the last five consecutive Sprint Cup Series drivers' championships. He is the first winner of three in a row since Cale Yarborough.
The Cup Series had its first title sponsor in 1972. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which had been banned from television advertising, found a popular and demographically suitable consumer base in NASCAR fans and engaged NASCAR as a promotional outlet. As a result of that sponsorship, the Grand National Series became known as the Winston Cup Series (today called the Sprint Cup Series) starting in 1971, with a new points system and some significant cash benefits to compete for championship points. In 1972, the season was shortened from 48 races (including two on dirt tracks) to 31. 1972 is often acknowledged as the beginning of NASCAR's "modern era". The next competitive level, called Late Model Sportsman, gained the "Grand National" title passed down from the top division and soon found a sponsor in Busch Beer.
In 2004, NEXTEL took over sponsorship of the premier series from R. J. Reynolds, who had sponsored it as the Winston Cup from 1972 until 2003, and formally renamed it the NEXTEL Cup Series. A new championship points system, "The Chase for the NEXTEL Cup " was also developed, which reset the point standings with ten races to go, making only drivers in the top ten or within 400 points of the leader eligible to win the championship. In 2007, NASCAR announced it was expanding "The Chase" from ten to twelve drivers, eliminating the 400-point cutoff, and giving a ten-point bonus to the top twelve drivers for each of the races they have won out of the first 26. Wins throughout the season will also be worth five more points than in previous seasons. In 2008, the premier series title name became the Sprint Cup Series and The Chase for The NEXTEL Cup became the " Chase for the Sprint Cup", as part of the merger between NEXTEL and Sprint.
The "NASCAR Nationwide Series" is the second-highest level of professional competition in NASCAR. The most recent series champion is Brad Keselowski in 2010.
The modern incarnation of this series began in 1982, with sponsorship by Anheuser-Busch Brewing's Budweiser brand. In 1984 it was renamed to the Busch Grand National Series. The Anheuser-Busch sponsorship expired at the end of 2007, and the series is now sponsored by Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide will also become NASCAR's official insurance agency replacing Allstate.
The Nationwide Series is currently the only series of the top three to race outside the United States. The season is a few races shorter than that of the Sprint Cup, and the prize money is significantly lower. However, over the last several years, a number of Sprint Cup drivers have run both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series events each weekend, using the Nationwide race as a warm-up to the Cup event at the same facility. Detractors of this practice believe this gives the Sprint Cup teams an unfair advantage, and that the presence of the Sprint Cup drivers squeezes out Nationwide Series competitors who would otherwise be able to qualify. These dual-series drivers have been labeled " Buschwhackers", a play on words which combines the original series sponsor's name with the notion of being bushwhacked. In May 2007, NNS director Joe Balash confirmed that NASCAR is exploring options to deal with the Buschwhacker controversy. One of the most often-cited proposals would be for Sprint Cup drivers participating in the Nationwide Series to receive no points for their participation in a Nationwide race. In 2007, NASCAR Chairman Brian France indicated that all options, except an outright ban of Cup competitors, are still being considered. On January 11, 2011, NASCAR.com reported that beginning with the 2011 season, drivers will be allowed to compete for the championship in only one of NASCAR's three national series in a given season, although they can continue to run in multiple series. This change is expected to be officially confirmed by NASCAR on January 21.
Beginning in 2010, the Nationwide cars adapted somewhat to the current " Car of Tomorrow" (or COT) design used by Cup cars, with different bodies from the Sprint Cup Series. Some critics hope that the discrepancy between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars will help solve the Buschwhacker problem by reducing the advantages of running both series.
Camping World Truck Series
The '"NASCAR Camping World Truck Series" features modified pickup trucks. It is one of the three national divisions of NASCAR, together with the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup. The most recent series champion was Todd Bodine in 2010; It was Bodine's second championship in the series.
In 1994, NASCAR announced the formation of the NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Craftsman. The first series race followed in 1995. In 1996, the series was renamed the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to emphasize Craftsman's involvement. The series was first considered something of an oddity or a "senior tour" for NASCAR drivers, but eventually grew in popularity and has produced Sprint Cup series drivers who had never raced in the Nationwide Series.
Beginning in 2009 the series became the Camping World Truck Series.
NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is a NASCAR racing series in Canada that is based from the old CASCAR Super Series founded in 1981 and was bought out in 2006. The new series has races through six of Canada's provinces for a total of 13 events with TV coverage on TSN. Many drivers are content running In Canada while others move up to bigger NASCAR series including J.R. Fitzpatrick and Andrew Ranger. The cars are a bit different from the cars seen in America with more a street look with steel tube-framed silhouette bodies powered by carbureted spec V8 engines. For Info about the 2010 season please check the 2010 in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series page.
NASCAR Corona Series
In December 2006, NASCAR also announced the creation of a new series in Mexico, the NASCAR Corona Series, replacing the existing Desafío Corona Series, to begin in 2007.
Regional racing series
In addition to the five main series, NASCAR operates several other racing circuits.
Many local race tracks across the United States and Canada run under the Whelen All-American Series banner, where local drivers are compared against each other in a formula where the best local track champion of the nation wins the Whelen All-American Weekly Series National Championship. The Whelen All-American series is split into four divisions. Each division champion receives a point-fund money payout and even more goes to the National champion (driver with most points out of the four division winners). The Whelen All-American Series is the base for stock car racing, developing NASCAR names such as Clint Bowyer, Jimmy Spencer, Tony Stewart, the Bodine brothers and many others along the way.
NASCAR also sanctions two regional racing divisions. The Whelen Modified Tour races open-wheel "modified" cars in Northern and Southern divisions. The Camping World Series, which consists of East and West divisions, race cars that are similar to Nationwide Series cars, although they are less powerful. In the past, NASCAR also sanctioned the AutoZone Elite Division, which raced late-model cars that were lighter and less powerful than Sprint Cup cars, and was originally split into four divisions: Northwest, Southwest, Southeast, and Midwest. At the end of 2005, NASCAR announced that the AutoZone Elite Division would be discontinued after the 2006 season due to having trouble securing NASCAR-sanctioned tracks to successfully host AutoZone Elite Division events, plus escalating costs of competing and downsizing of the Division in recent years.
In 2003, NASCAR standardized rules for its AutoZone Elite and Grand National divisions regional touring series as to permit cars in one series to race against cars in another series in the same division. The top 15 (Grand National) or 10 (AutoZone Elite) in each series will race in a one-race playoff, called the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, to determine the annual AutoZone Elite and Grand National champions. This event has been hosted at Irwindale Speedway in California since its inception.
Many drivers move up through the series before reaching the Sprint Cup series. In 2002, over 9,000 drivers had licenses from NASCAR to race at all levels.
The winners of the Dodge Weekly Series National Championship, the four AutoZone Elite Divisions, the two Whelen Modified and Grand National Divisions, and the three national series are invited to New York City in December to participate in Champions Week ceremonies which conclude with the annual awards banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Although NASCAR frequently publicizes the safety measures it mandates for drivers, these features are often only adopted long after they were initially developed, and only in response to an injury or fatality. The impact-absorbing " SAFER Barrier" that is now in use had been proposed by legendary mechanic Smokey Yunick during the 1970s, but his idea had been dismissed as too expensive and unnecessary. Only after the deaths of Kenny Irwin, Tony Roper, Adam Petty, and Dale Earnhardt in 2000 and 2001 did NASCAR revisit the idea of decreasing the G-forces a driver sustained during a crash. Other examples of available safety features that were slow to be implemented include the mandating of a throttle "kill switch". The "kill switch" was mandated after the death of Adam Petty, along with the requirements of an anti-spill bladder in fuel cells. Fire-retardant driver suits were required only after the death of Glen "Fireball" Roberts, who died from complications of burns suffered in a crash when flames engulfed his car during a Talladega race. Dale Earnhardt was killed after he received massive head and neck trauma from a hard crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. Earnhardt's death prompted NASCAR to require all drivers to use the " HANS Device" (Head And Neck Safety ), a device that keeps the driver's neck from going forward in a wreck. In the mid 2000s, NASCAR redesigned the racing vehicle with safety improvements, calling it the Car of Tomorrow. The car has a higher roof, wider cockpit, and the driver seat was located more toward the centre of the vehicle.
Similar to other professional leagues and sanctioning bodies, NASCAR has been the target of criticism on various topics from various sources. Some critics note the significant differences between today's NASCAR vehicles and true "stock" cars. Others frequently cite the dominance of the France family in NASCAR's business structure, policies, and decision making. Recently, the increased number of Cup drivers competing consistently in the Nationwide Series races has been hotly debated. Another general area of criticism, not only of NASCAR but other motorsports as well, includes questions about fuel consumption, emissions and pollution, and the use of lead additives in the gasoline. NASCAR moved to unleaded fuel for all three top series in 2007, fully one year in advance of the planned switch in 2008. While other series, such as the FIA Formula One series have addressed these criticisms by instituting "green" mandates, NASCAR has not. As NASCAR has made moves to improve its national appeal, it has begun racing at new tracks, and ceased racing at some traditional ones — a sore spot for the traditional fan base. Most recently, NASCAR has been challenged on the types and frequency of caution flags, with some critics suggesting the outcome of races is being manipulated, and that the intention is not safety, as NASCAR claims, but closer racing. There have been numerous accidents during races and even some off the tracks, with several spectators receiving fatal injuries. It was revealed in 2008 that one wrongful death lawsuit against NASCAR was settled for $2.4 million.
Economics and Global Expansion
At the 2008 NASCAR season, a topic of discussion was the Economics and Global Expansion of NASCAR, as Toyota announced they would be joining NASCAR's ranks. Toyota has generated success early in the season so far winning several races off performances from Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Other foreign manufactures are looking to jump in the mix of NASCAR. Honda is speculated to be interested in joining the NASCAR ranks in the near future. The increase in foreign competition is expected to raise the price of putting a car on the track.
Another topic on the NASCAR circuit is the increase in foreign born drivers and the effects they may have on the future of NASCAR. Juan Pablo Montoya, Patrick Carpentier, and Dario Franchitti are among the foreign-born big names who have crossed over from Formula One and the Indy racing circuit. These drivers have made an impact on NASCAR not only by winning races and dominating road courses, but by expanding NASCAR’s point of view.
NASCAR has incorporated a race in Mexico City for the Nationwide Series and possible expansion with exhibition races in Japan and Canada.
Expanding into international markets could increase NASCAR's popularity and allow foreign sponsors and manufactures to get involved in the sport. Some think this could be a very positive move for NASCAR, which has seen its television ratings drop 21 percent between 2005 and 2007. This was the first time this had happened in over 15 years. During the same 2 year period, NASCAR also saw the greatest drop in tickets prices observed in over a decade. Some think that an increase in international diversity would translate into growth and generate greater opportunities for NASCAR fans.
In October 2000, the Time Warner Company, Turner Sports Interactive, acquired all of NASCAR's interactive rights and the rights to the nascar.com domain. As of January 2001, Turner Sports Interactive is the exclusive producer, and NASCAR.com is the official site for NASCAR Inc. The NASCAR.COM staff is located in Atlanta, with additional personnel in Charlotte and Daytona Beach. The nascar.com domain is currently leased through Network Solutions, and extends through the year 2016.
Subsidiaries and ‘sister’ organizations
International Speedway Corporation
While not officially connected to NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation (ISC) was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1953 to construct and manage tracks that NASCAR holds competitions at. Since several members of the France family are executives at ISC, it is sometimes the subject of antitrust lawsuits.
The Grand American Road Racing Association (Grand-Am) is a sanctioning body of sports car racing. While it was founded independently of NASCAR by several members of the France family, NASCAR has since taken over Grand-Am, but allows it to operate autonomously.
NASCAR Technical Institute located in Mooresville, North Carolina, is the country's first technical training school to combine a complete automotive technology program and a NASCAR-specific motor sports program, and is the exclusive educational partner of NASCAR.