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Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France [Hardcover]

Daniel S. Pierce
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

15 Mar 2010
This is an unauthorized history of southern stock car racing. In this history of the stock car racing circuit known as NASCAR, Daniel Pierce offers a revealing new look at the sport from its postwar beginnings on Daytona Beach and Piedmont dirt tracks through the early 1970s when the sport spread beyond its southern roots and gained national recognition. Following NASCAR founder Big Bill France from his start as a mechanic, Real NASCAR details the sport's genesis as it has never been shown before. Pierce not only confirms the popular notion of NASCAR's origins in bootlegging, but also establishes beyond a doubt the close ties between organized racing and the illegal liquor industry, a story that readers will find both fascinating and controversial. Drawing on the memories of a variety of participants - including highly colorful characters like Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Gober Sosebee, Smokey Ynick, Bunky Knudsen, Humpy Wheeler, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, and Big Bill France himself - "Real NASCAR" shows how the reputation for wildness of these racers-by-day and bootleggers-by-night drew throngs of spectators to the tracks in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. They came to watch their heroes maneuver ordinary automobiles at incredible speed, beating and banging on each other, wrecking spectacularly, and fighting out their differences in the infield. Although France faced many challenges - including a fickle Detroit that often seemed unsure of its support for the sport, safety issues that killed star drivers and threatened its very existence, and drivers who twice tried to unionize to gain a bigger piece of the NASCAR pie - by the early 1970s France and his allies had laid a firm foundation for what has become today a billion-dollar industry and arguably the largest spectator sport in America.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (15 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807833843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807833841
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,587,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Details the sport's genesis as it has never been shown before. . . . A story that readers will find both fascinating and controversial."--"McCormick Messenger"

About the Author

DANIEL S. PIERCE is associate professor and chair of the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is author of The Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Finely Crafted History of NASCAR 17 Feb 2014
This book was highly recommended to me by an American friend who advised it was the best single book available dealing with the establishment of NASCAR . I have to say this is indeed a finely crafted and comprehensive history that Daniel S. Piece has written . I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in American motorsports .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book for Fans and Newcomers Alike 23 Mar 2010
By Grant - Published on
I am not a NASCAR fan and will likely never see a NASCAR race but I nonetheless found this book a fascinating read. Pierce presents NASCAR's much-more-colorful-than-I'd-ever-expected history and personalities with both clarity and charm. But more than that, I was particularly engaged by how, in Pierce's telling, NASCAR's story becomes a quintessentially American tale--a microcosm of U.S.-style capitalism writ large, much as football has often been viewed as a paradigm of military engagement in its strategy and team camaraderie. The story of the France family, their competitors, the corporate sponsors, and the drivers is one of raw talent, fierce competitiveness, technological innovation at 200 miles an hour, labor relations, monopolistic ambitions, and brand building. Pierce's book is a must for anyone interested in NASCAR, but it's much more. It's a case study of American culture.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Money buys speed. How fast do you want to go? 15 Aug 2010
By T. McGeehan - Published on
I found this book at the local library, and liked it so much, I bought a copy. Daniel Pierce does an excellent job of capturing the origins of NASCAR, when drivers were much more colorful than they are today.
I got a kick out of the slogan NASCAR legend Banjo Matthews used for his Asheville, NC speed shop: "Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?" I also liked Pierce's description of Florida bootlegger Smokey Purser (who won several big races on Daytona's beach/road course). He transported his moonshine from Florida to St. Louis in a truck that had a "FRESH FLORIDA FISH" sign on the sides. Inside were all the moonshine bottles, but Smokey disguised the haul by covering it with fish and ice. At times, he also wore a priest's collar to confuse the cops.
Another great story was about Buck Baker. On a hot day before the race started, he installed a dousche bag in his stock car, and filled it full of beer. Alas, after only a few laps on a rutted dirt track, the beer all turned to foam and poor Buck had to stay sober for the entire race. Can you imagine Jeff Gordon doing such a thing today?
Pierce, a history professor at the U. of North Carolina-Asheville, is an excellent writer, and he really knows his subject. Painstaking research is obvious throughout this book, which is required reading for any true NASCAR fan.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nascar book 21 July 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Gave this book to a Nascar fan. He loved it. Couldn't put it down. Read the first half the night he received it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France by Daniel S. Pierce 5 Dec 2012
By LBC - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Over the past 12 years much has been written and published about NASCAR's history, but as this auto racing body's popularity enters a period of decline newer books become harder to find and vendors carry less and less NASCAR specific material. "White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France" enters as a fresh look at an often told and somewhat whitewashed tale of this sport's early years. There are few, if any, new tales revealed, but the author, David S. Pierce, names names and reveals how personalities formerly described as only "businessmen" who invested in Bill France's dream were involved in the supply of untaxed distilled spirits to waiting markets. His book also goes on to describe how support of France's style of stock car racing provided at least one venue of livelihood which lessened or eliminated many personalities' dependence on the risky moonshine trade. In reading this book I encountered many stories of Bill France's period of NASCAR leadership I had read before, but many of them had a fresh slant and a bit more detail about the way things went down. These are the things which make history more than just boring dates and times.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative and Interesting for a NASCAR Fan 17 Dec 2010
By Jo D - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought the book for a Christmas present. I have looked through it and find it very informative about the real way NASCAR came to be. Would recommend it for all NASCAR fans and future NASCAR fans. Good reading and well worth the cost.
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