1954 JUST SEVEN
years after Bill France Sr.--that's Big Bill--founded the National Association
of Stock Car Auto Racing in the smoke-filled Ebony Bar of Daytona Beach's
Streamline Hotel, the new sanctioning body has brought together the independent
racing tracks and traditions of the Southeast into a burgeoning circuit.
PETTY wins seven times in '54 to take the first of his three Grand National
championships. Victory number one comes at Daytona in this Chrysler Club Coupe
>> WITH A
331-cubic-inch hemi engine, the number 42 car produces more than 235
horsepower. The car is also outfitted with a Dodge truck transmission.
1967 This is the
golden age, when the King and a horde of challengers to his throne do battle
week after week before passionate crowds on speedways large and small
throughout the South. With the auto manufacturers increasing their investment
and sponsors taking interest, big money is starting to drive the sport.
>> AT THE
WHEEL of this Plymouth Belvedere/GTX, Richard Petty continues the family
tradition, winning an astounding 27 of his 48 NASCAR races in 1967--including
10 in a row. He would retire in '92 with a record 200 wins.
CARS are largely "stock" only in appearance now; in fact, Petty's '67
Plymouth is actually a reskinned version (in Petty Blue of course) of the '66,
powered by a 426-cubic-inch hemi that produces 375 horsepower.
2006 No longer a
regional pastime, NASCAR is riding high nationwide. With more than 13 million
fans filling 22 tracks in 19 states, the circuit is one of America's most
profitable pro sports leagues: Multiyear TV contracts exceed $500 million, and
licensed products bring in $2.1 billion.
JOHNSON finally fulfills his enormous promise. After finishing in the top five
of the Cup standings four years in a row, he lays claim to the '06 Nextel Cup
with five wins and 24 top 10 finishes in his Chevy Monte Carlo.
THREE manufacturers--Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford--make six eligible models for
NASCAR, all the cars look strikingly similar. Johnson's racer is powered by an
850-horsepower, 358-cubic-inch engine.
2007 It's still
stock car racing, but Big Bill might not recognize the landscape--or the
machines. Committed to growth in the increasingly competitive sports
marketplace, NASCAR looks to cultivate new venues and fans, in the U.S. and
abroad, while welcoming foreign manufacturers and drivers.