This is an unauthorized history of southern stock car racing. In this history of the stock car racing circuit known as NASCAR, Daniel Pierce offers a revealing new look at the sport from its postwar beginnings on Daytona Beach and Piedmont dirt tracks through the early 1970s when the sport spread beyond its southern roots and gained national recognition. Following NASCAR founder Big Bill France from his start as a mechanic, Real NASCAR details the sport's genesis as it has never been shown before. Pierce not only confirms the popular notion of NASCAR's origins in bootlegging, but also establishes beyond a doubt the close ties between organized racing and the illegal liquor industry, a story that readers will find both fascinating and controversial. Drawing on the memories of a variety of participants - including highly colorful characters like Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Gober Sosebee, Smokey Ynick, Bunky Knudsen, Humpy Wheeler, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, and Big Bill France himself - ""Real NASCAR"" shows how the reputation for wildness of these racers-by-day and bootleggers-by-night drew throngs of spectators to the tracks in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. They came to watch their heroes maneuver ordinary automobiles at incredible speed, beating and banging on each other, wrecking spectacularly, and fighting out their differences in the infield. Although France faced many challenges - including a fickle Detroit that often seemed unsure of its support for the sport, safety issues that killed star drivers and threatened its very existence, and drivers who twice tried to unionize to gain a bigger piece of the NASCAR pie - by the early 1970s France and his allies had laid a firm foundation for what has become today a billion-dollar industry and arguably the largest spectator sport in America.
DANIEL S. PIERCE is associate professor and chair of the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is author of The Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park.