Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France

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Overview

In this history of the stock car racing circuit known as NASCAR, Daniel S. Pierce offers a revealing look at the sport from its postwar beginnings on Daytona Beach and Piedmont dirt tracks through the early 1970s when the sport spread beyond its southern roots and gained national recognition. Following NASCAR founder Big Bill France from his start as a mechanic, Real NASCAR details the sport's genesis as it has never been shown before. Pierce not only confirms the popular notion of NASCAR's origins in ...

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Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France

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Overview

In this history of the stock car racing circuit known as NASCAR, Daniel S. Pierce offers a revealing look at the sport from its postwar beginnings on Daytona Beach and Piedmont dirt tracks through the early 1970s when the sport spread beyond its southern roots and gained national recognition. Following NASCAR founder Big Bill France from his start as a mechanic, Real NASCAR details the sport's genesis as it has never been shown before. Pierce not only confirms the popular notion of NASCAR's origins in bootlegging, but also establishes beyond a doubt the close ties between organized racing and the illegal liquor industry, a story that readers will find both fascinating and controversial.

Drawing on the memories of a variety of participants—including highly colorful characters like Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Gober Sosebee, Smokey Yunick, Bunky Knudsen, Humpy Wheeler, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, and Big Bill France himself—Real NASCAR shows how the reputation for wildness of these racers-by-day and bootleggers-by-night drew throngs of spectators to the tracks in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. They came to watch their heroes maneuver ordinary automobiles at incredible speed, beating and banging on each other, wrecking spectacularly, and fighting out their differences in the infield.

Although France faced many challenges—including a fickle Detroit that often seemed unsure of its support for the sport, safely issues that killed star drivers and threatened its very existence, and drivers who twice tried to unionize to gain a bigger piece of the NASCAR pie—by the early 1970s France and his allies had laid a firm foundation for what has become today a billion-dollar industry and arguably the largest specatator sport in America.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Of the many books on NASCAR history, few have been either as thorough or as authoritative as this one. Pierce (history, Univ. of North Carolina, Asheville) applies his historian's touch by thoroughly and carefully laying out the story of NASCAR's birth and development, grounding it in the culture and value system of the working-class Piedmont South, one in which manhood was often measured by one's ability to drive a car. That same culture also gave rise to the bootlegging industry and traditions, from which flowed a steady supply of race car drivers, prize money, and racetrack builders. With land readily and inexpensively available, small racetracks sprouted throughout the region after World War II, quickly spreading stock car racing popularity. The final prerequisite for success was an organizer and promoter who could pull all the disparate pieces together. That person, "Big" Bill France, was legendary in the face of many obstacles. Pierce provides not only a finely detailed narrative of NASCAR's formative years but also an examination of why matters unfolded as they did and why people became so strongly attached to the sport. VERDICT Pierce's aim to build his work on documented evidence rather than widely accepted and oft-repeated lore makes his book a standout. Enthusiastically recommended as an important work that would serve an academic audience as well as general readers.—David Van de Streek, Penn State Univ. Libs., York
From the Publisher
"Of the many books on NASCAR history, few have been either as thorough or as authoritative as this one. . . . Pierce's aim to build his work on documented evidence rather than widely accepted and oft-repeated lore makes his book a standout. Enthusiastically recommended."--Library Journal starred review

"The first comprehensive history of early southern stock-car racing that reflects its rustic character but not at the expense of academic rigor."--Journal of Southern History

"If you're a Southerner, by birth or by inclination, and love Southern foodways, folkways, highways, and low-ways, you'll lap up Daniel S. Pierce's Real NASCAR . . . like grits and red-eye gravy, even if you've never been to a stock car race or watched one on television."--Our State

"[A] fascinating history of the era."--Bookforum

"Stories of stock car racing and moonshining come to life through oral histories. . . . Real NASCAR contains an energy and respect for its subject that reveals the historian's personal enthusiasm. Even if you have never been a NASCAR fan, you will find much to keep you reading in this intriguing history of the sport."--Smoky Mountain Living

"Real NASCAR is one of the very, very few [racing history books] worth reading."--Speedreaders.info

"A rich source of the forgotten lore and overlooked history of stock car racing in America. Students of southern history and stock car racing fans alike will want a copy of this fascinating and eminently readable history."--Journal of East Tennessee History

"Puts research and rigor into the rise of NASCAR, from its well known migration off the back roads of moonshine running to the paved Talladega Raceway."--Autoblog.com

"An enthusiastic study that brings to life NASCAR's mythology and reality. . . . This volume will delight fans; researches will appreciate the bounty of resources cited. . . . Recommended."--Choice

"Rollicking and innovative. . . . A history that is captivating, insightful, and surprising. . . . Enthusiastically recommend[ed]."--Florida Historical Quarterly
"Capture[s] the spirit of the early years of rough-and-tumble stock racing."--Roanoke Times

"Real NASCAR can be read by racing fans who will share stories about Bill France and Curtis Turner at lunch tables and bars all over America at the same time it becomes a key text in the reading lists of university courses on Southern culture."--Virginia Libraries

"Details the sport's genesis as it has never been shown before. . . . A story that readers will find both fascinating and controversial."--McCormick Messenger

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807833841
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 992,585
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel S. Pierce is associate professor and chair of the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is author of The Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2012

    The twoleg.......

    Finnaly catches up to his dog and they both see the trap they set up about a week ago with something in it

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2012

    Cool

    Cool racing

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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