A Short History of Car Racing
By: Good2GoPublished: January 11, 2019
There is technically no need for an automobile to go above 100 mph in America….unless it’s an ambulance or police car. So why does the average street car have the ability to go well above 100 mph — and race track cars even faster? The answer is simple: it’s an instinctual urge for adrenaline whether it’s racing by foot, riding an animal, or using wheels. All of which have origins that predate written history.
Today, we are in the age of the internal combustion engine, and since its invention, car enthusiasts and daredevils have given into their need for speed Especially during the Prohibition Era, when Moonshine Runners began modifying their cars to outrun the Government issued cars used by agents. This need for speed lead to the birth of stock car racing in 1939.
However, organized automobile racing began well before then. It began in the United States with a race from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, on Thanksgiving Day, 1895. After World War I, a new breed of racing cars was developed. High-performance cars were stripped and refitted with special seats, fuel tanks and tires for racing. Stock car racing began after that in 1939, which created the new standard for racing.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go back in time for a moment to the era of Prohibition. In 1920, after a tough campaign from protesters, the U.S. government initiated the prohibition of alcohol. They banned making it, drinking it, selling it and, yes, transporting it. And, of course, as they did most Americans immediately continued to celebrate. They created speakeasies which were hidden bars that required passwords to enter. To satisfy the thirst of these rule-breaking crowds, speakeasies needed liquor. They got it from daring drivers called Moonshine Runners, Rum Runners, and Bootleggers, who needed the fastest cars and sharpest instincts to outrun government agents and local police. Some drove from ports with imported foreign alcohol, others drove from rural areas famous for their homemade booze – often strong enough to dissolve the paint on a car.
The aim was to be fast. The best drivers with the fastest cars got more work, so drivers and their patrons would hold races to see whose cars could best break the speed limit with the most talent. This led to the modifications of standard cars’ engines, wheels, and body shapes. Soon it became a sport. The goal was to make the best time and get a prize or a trophy (and naturally, bragging rights) and a bit of the stuff Runners were known for transporting.
Instead of racing on backcountry dirt roads like the Runners, the new sport moved from country fair grounds to tracks called speedways.
One of the first (and best known) speedways is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was originally an unpaved track in 1909 but was paved for the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Proving the popularity of the sport, the race continued annually except during wartime.
There seems to be a human urge to go fast. Even if it begins with a purpose, or a reason, it whittles down to something inside us. This is not a suggestion that you should drive over 100 mph or try to outrace the police. DO NOT. It’s important that we all follow the speed limit to help avoid accidents.
We’ve all seen that with every race that involves racing cars, accidents happen. And unless you’re driving a fully-equipped race car, chances are you don’t’ have all the straps and safety precautions of professional drivers.
So, do yourself a favor, drive safely, drive patiently and most importantly, drive legally. Let Good2Go Auto Insurance help you drive legally with low-cost, minimum-coverage auto insurance. For a free, no-obligation quote visit www.good2go.com today.