Sunday 8th March 1936
The first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course, promoted by local racer Sig Haugdahl. The race was 78 laps long (250 mile or 400 km) for street-legal family sedans sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA) for cars built in 1935 and 1936. The city posted a $5000 purse with $1700 for the winner. The race was marred by controversial scoring and huge financial losses to the city. Ticket-takers arrived to find thousands of fans already at the beach track. The sandy turns at the ends of the track became virtually impassable with stuck and stalled cars. Second and third place finishers protested the results. The city lost $22,000. Although this race is remembered as the impetus for today’s NASCAR, nothing would have come into being without the efforts of Bill France. Having moved to Daytona in 1934, Bill France opened a garage there. He fixed and raced cars, finishing fifth in Daytona’s original race. The city claimed it lost money on the event and enthusiasm for city-sponsored racing waned. The next year the Daytona Elks persuaded the city to stage a Labor Day road race for stock cars. The city lost money again. At that point, Bill France and local club owner Charlie Reese took over the promotion for the Daytona race. With Reese’s money and France’s work, the race established itself as a successful enterprise. Racing halted during the war, but afterward France returned to Daytona Beach and persisted at race promotion. Reese died in 1945. France went on to promote races all over the South. In 1946, he staged a National Championship race at the Old Charlotte Speedway. A news editor objected to France’s calling a race a National Championship without any organized sanctioning body. France responded by forming the National Championship Stock Car Circuit (NCSCC) in 1946. On December 14, 1947, France called a meeting to reorganise the growing NCSCC. Racing officials gathered at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to hear France call for major changes in the operation of the circuit. He demanded more professionalism and suggested that the organization provide insurance for drivers and strict rules for the race cars and tracks. A new organization to be incorporated later that year as the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) emerged from the meeting, with Bill France, former mechanic, as president.