Where Rubber Meets Road: NASCAR & F1 Origin Stories
Race of All Races: NASCAR & F1 compete as motorsports’ favorite son
NASCAR and Formula 1: The pinnacles of Motorsports -- one of the most competitive industries worldwide - that run like a heat-seeking missile through the veins of car enthusiasts from Peoria to Dubai. NASCAR and Formula 1 (F1) are baked in blue-chip brand status that was hard-earned and recently won. Let’s take a look at the iconic moments contributing to the legacy of the high-performance players dominating our attention – and our weekends – across the nation and the globe.
NASCAR: The indisputable American motorsport. Born on the grains of sand on Daytona Beach, and subsequently nurtured throughout the southern region, the founders of the auto racing giant were bootleggers and moonshine drivers who tuned-up their cars to outrun cops during the Prohibition era. But Prohibition didn’t last forever (thank God), so when it reached its demise in 1933 during the height of the Great Depression, moonshiners found themselves struggling to find jobs to make ends meet. One thing was certain: from years of tuning and pushing cars to the limit, the moonshiners did what they did best, recognizing the marketplace void as an opportunity to transform racing into entertainment. From organizing races on dirt roads and creating makeshift tracks, they started attracting crowds of spectators who in pretty short order were willing to pay to see these drivers showcase their years of skill in stock cars. Notably, in 1947 stock car driver Bill France decided it was time to start expanding this emerging form of racing into an ongoing nationwide event featuring leading stock car drivers, mechanics, and car owners in Daytona Beach, evolving into the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) we know today.
It didn’t take long for the early NASCAR team to distance itself from its Prohibition-era roots, instead setting its sights on expanding its reach by creating a family-friendly sport with long-term growth in mind rather than immediate profits. From the dirt trails of the South to the asphalt speedways across the nation, NASCAR transformed from a regional sport into the nationwide phenomenon leading the industry today. Legends such as Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Bill Elliot became household names as the nation took notice of the drivers’ extreme skill and dexterity. Automakers adopted the motto: “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” for ultra-powerful mass production versions of their racing machines, many of which are known as muscle cars that owners proudly showcased throughout America’s neighborhood grids to this day. Although NASCAR is a lot different than what it used to be, we can’t forget how quickly the sport took hold of the nation’s attention nearly 70 years ago, which continues to be recognized as the fastest growing spectator sport in the U.S.
While NASCAR embodies the country’s ‘can-do’ spirit – the mindset that led the industrial revolution hence the global economies of the 20th & 21st centuries, Formula 1 has a rich (and by ‘rich’ we mean wealthy) origin story. In the early 1900s, the more affluent, Jay Gatsby-types would race their motorized carriages in towns via course-structured events known as “grand prix” races that were largely dormant during WWI and WWII but post war made a definitive comeback as the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) with enormous popularity. Founded in 1904, the FIA soon standardized its racing rules, organizing events throughout Europe, with Formula A created as the benchmark of racing. As the sport evolved, it became the brand known as F1 today, populated with cutting edge car design featuring vast and radical innovations like 6 wheels, ground kits to improve aerodynamics, and customized turbine engines to make cars handle better and be even faster.
Through the years, spectators have been witness to great F1 legends – from Niki Lauda, Aryton Senna and Michael Schumacher to Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, to name a few - transforming the sport as the face of F1, building team loyalty among fans and attracting new audiences to race venues. The brand is growing globally today at an unprecedented rate, expanding F1’s reach into the highly coveted U.S. market with hugely monetizable sponsorships and marketing deals. With new Grand Prix races such as Miami’s Circuit of the Americas, which had its first race earlier this year, and the recent announcement of the 2023 Las Vegas Street Circuit, Formula 1’s full-throttle growth shows no sign of hitting the brakes.
As multi-billion-dollar organizations, NASCAR and Formula 1 have contributed indelibly not only to the global heart of this extraordinary spectator sport, but also of paramount significance both are leading innovators in automotive design and technology that can be found looking no further than our own garage, all led by the phenomenal talent - drivers and crews - developing their pedigree cementing their place in history, evolving in distinct ways that have earned their place in our hearts, too.