It all started with moonshine. Distilleries needed runners who could inconspicuously make deliveries without getting detected by local authorities. These seemingly bland cars received modifications making them fast enough to outrun any police and secure enough to keep moonshine from breaking when driven on treacherous mountain roads. These runners took to showing off their skills against each other in races for bragging rights as the top dog.
The end of Prohibition left these drivers with fast cars and no way to earn a living. They ended up racing in their own events. These events became regulated and consolidated under what is now known as the NASCAR series. The first official NASCAR race was held at Daytona, which endures today as one of the premier racing spots in the country.
More racetracks and sanctioned events begin popping up all over the country. The sport’s popularity was helped by the rise of Richard Petty, the first true superstar of the sport. After taking over for his father in 1972, William France Jr. increased his efforts to take NASCAR to a national level. That was achieved, not through marketing, but through a brawl between two drivers at the Daytona 500 that was broadcast live on national TV in 1979.
The sport’s come through its share of tragedy and controversy. Several drivers were banned for life due to efforts to unionize drivers. Millions have watched the deaths of some of the sport’s most beloved figures played out live. Concerns continue to be raised over how much is being done to protect the drivers and the spectators in the stands. It often takes the death of a major figure on the track to get the sport to adopt various safety standards.
It’s most likely because of the ever-present danger that the sport continues to grow and thrive. Today NASCAR reigns as the #1 spectator sport in the world. It brings in billions of dollars in revenue and spawned generations of legacy racers eager to keep the sport alive and viable through the 21st century.
We’ve designed this quiz to highlight some of the top NASCAR racers in history. How much have you followed the history of the sport? Do you only remember a few big names, or can you remember every racer at the first Daytona event? We didn’t make this easy. You’ll only be able to achieve success on this quiz if you prove yourself to be a true NASCAR aficionado!