The first NASCAR race took place at the Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina.
Stock car racing had its origins in the era of Prohibition, when illegal alcohol was distributed by fast cars across the United States. In order to outrun the police, many bootleggers modified their otherwise ordinary or ‘stock’ cars and over time began to organise events and compete against one another.
Mechanic Bill France Sr. moved to the spiritual home of automobile racing at Daytona Beach in Florida in 1935. He later began to organise his own events but, by the late 1940s, had become frustrated with inconsistent rules and unscrupulous promoters. In response he called a meeting of influential members of the racing community at the Streamline Hotel and, on 21 February 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was formed.
Forced to delay the inaugural season due to a shortage of new cars following a rise in demand after the war, the first Strictly Stock race took place on 19 June 1949. Around 13,000 spectators turned up to the Charlotte Speedway to see 33 drivers, one of whom was female driver Sara Christian, complete 200 laps of the 3/4 mile circuit.
Glenn Dunnaway finished the race three laps ahead of his nearest rival, Jim Roper. However, a post-race inspection found that the rear springs of Dunnaway’s car had been illegally modified. Since this broke the fundamental rule of only racing ‘strictly stock’ cars, he was disqualified and the $2,000 prize was handed to Roper.
The season featured a further seven races as well as two exhibition races. Red Byron, who had finished third in the first race, went on to win the Drivers’ Championship. Jim Roper only started one other NASCAR race.