Prohibition's Role in Stock Car Racing
In 1920, the 18th Amendment banned the production and possession of alcohol, and Prohibition officially began. Strangely enough, drinking alcohol wasn't illegal, so many people went ahead and made their own liquor, known as moonshine.
As law enforcement officials tried to enforce the 18th Amendment, alcohol producers had to be clever about their business. To transport illegal liquor, they needed vehicles that would blend and not attract attention. They began transporting the liquor in their personal cars at night, calling themselves "moon runners." Unfortunately, the moon runners couldn't outrun the police. To give their cars an advantage, they began modifying the vehicles.
Producers and runners would take ordinary cars and alter them slightly to make them capable of reaching high speeds. The cars still looked like all the other automobiles on the road, but they could now beat law enforcement.
Moon runners were constantly bragging about their exploits. They boasted of making nighttime trips on dirt roads at more than 120 mph (194 kilometers per hour) -- with no headlights. Soon, runners started racing on weekends, and stock car racing was born.
When Prohibition ended in 1933, racing had become very popular, as did the practice of souping up cars. The sport continued to grow through the next 15 years. By 1948, it was a widespread sport, but different in every region. NASCAR formed in 1949 as a way to organize the chaos.
NASCAR had quite a bit of work to do. Read on to learn more about this famous racing league.