Celebrating 75 years of NASCAR History
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) -- NASCAR is celebrating it's 75th anniversary this year. With 75 years of races comes a rich history that all started in Daytona Beach in 1948.
Bill France Sr. got the ball rolling in December of 1947 for NASCAR. The first race was held at the Daytona Beach road course on February 15, 1948. Red Byron was the very first NASCAR winner. From there, the sport took off into a global phenomenon.
"From that point forward, it was a growing every year. It took the vision of someone like [France Sr.] and the fans to support what we have. That's why we're 75 years into it now," said Clay Campbell, President of the Mid-Atlantic Region NASCAR.
Watkins Glen is a NASCAR staple, but the area had its own connection to racing even before NASCAR came to town.
"The first post World War II road race in the entire country took place here in Watkins Glen in 1948. Ironically enough, the formation of NASCAR also took place in 1948....The first professional race in Watkins Glen was a NASCAR race in 1957. They ran here in '57, '64, '65 and then they came back permanently in 1986, and they've been here ever since," said Kip Zeiter, Coordinator of Visitor Services and Outreach.
NASCAR racing in Watkins Glen came on the scene in the 1950's, and has drawn huge crowds ever since. The course is unique, and was renamed in in 1983 when Corning Inc and International Speedway Corporation came together to buy the track.
"There's not too many communities where racing has become an integral part of the community, especially for a period of time as long as 75 years. I think the traditions its brought to Watkins Glen obviously has continued, and I don't think that the man who started it, Cameron Argetsinger, who started it back in 1948, simply because he had a MG and he wanted a place to race it, I don't think he envisioned what it would become," added Kip.
NASCAR has grown from a couple of drivers and one course, to hundreds of drivers and over 20 courses around the country. NASCAR officials say they were excited to celebrate the 75th anniversary, and hope for many more.