Stock car racing was something that was out of owners’ imagine of customized stock (meaning: ‘off the sales lot’) cars to show off their vehicles, craftsmanship and driving expertise. It came from their wish to escape the law enforcement agencies pursuing them when they were running moonshine or put another way, bootlegging.
For the period of Prohibition, a lot of moonshine whiskey was being made in remote regions of the Appalachians and in particular the Allegheny Mountains, from where it was taken by private carriers in their own stock cars often to the southern states. Many of these drivers souped up their cars in order to have more chance of escape.
When Prohibition was revoked in 1933, this bootlegging continued in order to avoid paying duty, but it gradually died out. However, the fire had already been lit and the drivers of these cars liked to race them in their spare time for pleasure and reward, especially in the southern states and particularly in North Carolina, where most of the stock car teams are still to be found.
NASCAR was established by Bill French in 1947 when he created the first set of uniform rules and a championship scoring system so that an overall winner of all the season’s races could be worked out.
However, the conditions in the early days were pretty crude. The cars were usually second-hand and worn and the track was just dirt and dust. Under these circumstances the cars quickly fell apart, so NASCAR allowed competing cars to be customized or strengthened. Safety aspects for the drivers were also introduced. Nowadays, the NASCAR instruction manual clearly defines all the alterations that are allowed on contending cars.
These days it is a mistake to call NASCAR cars ‘stock cars’; they are anything other than stock cars. NASCAR cars are hand made. The frames are poles apart from stock cars in that they are constructed from tubes for strength; the tin is sheet steel and the engine blocks begin as just that – a bare block. What the mechanics do with it after that is a closely guarded secret.
The safety of the driver is also taken very seriously. The driver is shielded from injury by a heavy roll cage. Strong round and square tubes make up the car’s framework, while thinner tubing is used at the front and back ends to absorb the impact of crashes by crushing slowly. These are called clips and the front clip will also allow the engine to fall away under the car, rather than be pushed straight back into the driver.
The bodies of NASCAR cars are not easy to make, often taking ten days to finish. However, NASCAR rules cover the general body shape and they provide thirty templates to make constructing a NASCAR car a little simpler.
But it does not stop there. There are different regulations and templates for different sorts of races on different tracks, because the cars that race on superspeedways are not the same as those used for short tracks or endurance races.
Owen Jones, the author of this article writes on quite a few subjects, but is at present concerned with thinking about the Poconos Raceway in Pennsylvania. If you would like to know more or check out some great offers, please go to our website at Poconos Vacations.