The Early Laps of Stock Car Racing


Betty Boles Ellison


“A History of the Sport and Business through 1974

The first organized, sanctioned American stock car race took place in 1908 on a road course around Briarcliff, New York—staged by one of America’s early speed mavens, William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. A veteran of the early Ormond–Daytona Beach speed trials, Vanderbilt brought the Grand Prize races to Savannah, Georgia, the same year. What began as a rich man’s sport eventually became the working man’s sport, finding a home in the South with the infusion of moonshiners and their souped-up cars.

Based in large part on statements of drivers, car owners and others garnered from archived newspaper articles, this history details the development of stock car racing into a megasport, chronicling each season through 1974. It examines the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing’s 1948 incorporation documents and how they differ from the agreements adopted at NASCAR’s organization meeting two months earlier. The meeting’s participants soon realized that their sport was actually owned by William H.G. “Bill” France, and its consequential growth turned his family into billionaires. The book traces the transition from dirt to asphalt to superspeedways, the painfully slow advance of safety measures and the shadowy economics of the sport. ”