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Who was Bill France Sr. and Why Did He Start NASCAR?

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Question: Who was Bill France Sr. and Why Did He Start NASCAR?
Answer:

Bill France Sr.

Bill France Sr. was born on September 26th, 1909 and grew up near Washington, DC.

In his younger years he taught himself mechanics and took formal training in banking. Bill France's first "real" job was as a bank clerk. However that was short-lived since Bill didn't feel that banking was his calling.

The Motorsports Bug Bites

In the early 1930s Bill France was working as a mechanic and had opened his own garage near Washington, DC. In his free time he was also racing the local dirt track circuit.

Bill France Moves South

In 1934 Bill France Sr. moved from Washington, DC to Daytona Beach Florida. Actually, Bill intended to move to Miami but his car broke down in Daytona Beach. He liked the area so he decided to stay there.

At that time Daytona Beach was famous for its land speed record attempts along the beach. However, the larger, safer, Bonneville Salt Flats had just opened and Daytona was losing much of its speed record appeal.

Bill Finds Success In Daytona

In 1936 Daytona Beach held its first beach/road course race. By then Bill France was a local gas station owner and was active in the local racing scene. Bill France Sr. entered that very first race and finished fifth.

Just a few years later Bill France Sr. was asked to run the races as promoter. Bill was not enthusiastic about taking on the job. However, after failing to find anyone else who would do it, Bill agreed.

The Grand Idea

After taking time off to work in the Daytona Boat Works during World War II. Bill France returned to motorsports, promoting races on the Daytona Beach/Road course.

Bill France was getting frustrated with unscrupulous race promoters who would promise big paydays and then take off with the money. He also felt that drivers could earn more money and have better races if there was a common set of rules and a strong sanctioning body to back them up.

In December of 1947 Bill gathered together a group of race promoters, officials and drivers in the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida to discuss the idea. After a series of discussions NASCAR was officially born on February 21st, 1948.

The First NASCAR Sprint Cup Race

The first "strictly stock" series event (strictly stock would eventually go on to become the Sprint Cup Series) was held on June 19th, 1949. This race was held at Charlotte Speedway, a 3/4 mile dirt track in Charlotte, NC.

In that race Glenn Dunnaway crossed the finish line first but was later disqualified for having illegal rear shocks. So Jim Roper in a 1949 Lincoln was awarded the win and the $2,000 top prize.

NASCAR was born.

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