Moonshine-Runners: Making NASCAR

This would’ve been a typical workbench in a moonshine runner’s garage. American Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia. February 2021

“Appalachian Mountain moonshine runners were the origins of NASCAR. They laid the foundation for organized racing in America. Moonshine runners in the rural South started to expand their law-breaking operations beyond local deliveries. Their livelihoods depended on how fast their cars could go, or more accurately, how much faster than the sheriff’s car they could go. Quick cars meant more reliable deliveries of liquor, but more importantly, it meant they could usually stay one step ahead of the law. It was these early souped-up, liquor-hauling Fords that laid the foundation for one of America’s most popular modern-day sports – automobile racing. The birth of NASCAR took place on dirt tracks in rural pastures when liquor haulers would gather to test their racing skills and compete for bragging rights. The roots of NASCAR are unquestionably soaked in moonshine.”

Moonshine runner on the run with a full load.

“For myself, if booze ever comes back to the United States, I am through with manufacturing. I wouldn’t be interested in putting automobiles into the hands of a generation soggy with drink.” – Henry Ford, Ford Motor Co.

“Henry Ford’s unveiling of the first V-8 in 1932 had endeared him to Southern moonshiners. The 1939 Ford would become the most famous whisky car of all, and quite possibly, the best stock car racing machine ever. The revolutionary engine crammed twice as many pistons into a shape that looked like a “V.” The new design created more torque, horsepower, and stability at high speeds. When whiskey-running mechanics figured out how to add extra carburetors to the engine, as well as heavier tires and stronger suspensions to the base frame, the Ford V8 became a blazing speed machine, flying at speeds of over 100mph – much faster than the sheriffs who were trying to catch them. Louis ‘Red’ Vogt named the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and was the first master mechanic.”

“Moonshiners put more time, energy, thought, and love into their cars than any racers ever will. Lose on the track, and you go home. Lose with a load of whiskey, and you go to jail.” – Junior Johnson, NASCAR legend.

Source: American Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia. February 15, 2021.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *