NASCAR: Prohibition’s bastard child (I mean that in a good way)

This American system of ours, call it Americanism, call it Capitalism, call it what you will, gives each and everyone of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.
—Al Capone

The St. Valentine’s Day massacre of 1928 and the legacy of Al Capone-style gangsters are not the only thing that came out of prohibition. Little did I know that NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) also has its roots in prohibition.

Isn’t that cool?

An excerpt from Wikipedia:

Bootleggers needed to distribute their illicit products [alcohol], and they typically used small, fast vehicles to better evade the police.

Many of the drivers would modify their cars for speed and handling, as well as increased cargo capacity, and some of them came to love the fast-paced driving down twisty mountain roads.

One of the main ‘strips’ in Knoxville, Tennessee, had its beginning as a mecca for aspiring bootlegging drivers.

Imagine how slow cars would be today if booze had always been legal. Plus there would have been no way for Al Capone to make a living.

But the point is NASCAR. So one might ask: in between bootlegging appointments, what’s the point of a souped up car?

Well, it turns out nature abhors a vaccum—and several other appliances including toaster ovens and electric can openers.

I know, that made no sense. But that empty space between bootlegging runs was soon filled with the hot air of bootlegging drivers, good ol’ boys, claiming to have “…the fastest dang car in Chunky County!”

From another source:

“These men were the real Dukes of Hazzard, only there was nothing funny about their business. Driving at high speeds at night, often with the police in pursuit, was dangerous. The penalty for losing the race was jail or loss of livelihood.”

As bootlegging boomed, the drivers began to race among themselves to see who had the fastest cars. Bootleggers raced on Sunday afternoons and then used the same car to haul moonshine Sunday night. Inevitably, people came to see the races, and racing moonshine cars became extremely popular in the backroads of the South.

And again from Wikipedia:

The repeal of Prohibition in 1933 dried up some of their business, but by then Southerners had developed a taste for moonshine, and a number of the drivers continued “runnin’ shine,” this time evading the “revenuers” who were attempting to tax their operations.

The cars continued to improve, and by the late 1940′s, races featuring these cars were being run for pride and profit.

These races were popular entertainment in the rural Southern United States, and they are most closely associated with the Wilkes County region of North Carolina. Most races in those days were of modified cars, street vehicles which were lightened and reinforced.

So, it turns out there are some grand comparisons between ol’ time prohibition and modern day prohibition.

For example, ol’ time prohibition, evidently, can be blamed for more than just a lot of killing and gangs and mafia. It can be blamed for the essence of a show even I, a young TV addict, couldn’t sit through—or just didn’t understand: the highly literate Dukes Of Hazard.

Granted, I’m from way north—and how many southerners can get a rush from Hockey Night In Canada?

Thank god we can all overcome cultural differences and agree on the majesty of the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour (although the predictable Road Runner was too much).

And where ol’ time prohibition gave us the Dukes of Hazard, modern prohibition (cocaine, specifically) had its counterpart.

We not only got the bootleggers from the brutal Medellin cartel, encouraged through CIA dirty work with double-dealer Manuel Noriega in Panama and brutal drug wars and addiction, we got, yes, Miami Vice—another show I was never able to sit through. What’s wrong with me!

Modern prohibition also gave us, built on drug money, the modern Miami skyline.

THE WAR ON MULLETS

And somehow, perhaps by association with the times, I can blame Miami Vice, perhaps even sue somebody, for the fact I sported a mullet for so long, and had no idea I looked like a total loser.

I’m thinking the four inch shoulder pads made the mullet less obvious.

And here’s another similarity between prohibition old and new:

Souped up cars came out of ol’ time prohibition, leading to that multi-billon dollar NASCAR business—not to mention the business of alcohol in general, alcoholism shattering lives and families, and alcohol playing a role in something like half of all deaths by driving.

But thank god alcohol is not dangerous like all those hard drugs!

And out of the modern prohibition (which isn’t modern at all) of cocaine etc. came souped up, cast off weaponry, proudly supporting the trillion dollar small arms trade business.

Illicit drugs, of course, fund countless small and dirty proxy wars, State terrorism and non-State terrorism, and the killing of millions of innocent bystanders over the decades.

With NASCAR, mostly it was hearing loss.

Now it’s countless lives—and counting. Boy, did we learn a lot from prohibition…

Nobel Laureate, super conservative economist Milton Friedman, from 1972:

But, you may say, must we accept defeat? Why not simply end the drug traffic?

That is where experience under Prohibition is most relevant. We cannot end the drug traffic…

So long as large sums of money are involved—and they are bound to be if drugs are illegal—it is literally hopeless to expect to end the traffic or even to reduce seriously its scope.

Don’t you just love tradition combined with evolution?

Love and more love,

Pete

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One Response to “NASCAR: Prohibition’s bastard child (I mean that in a good way)”

  1. Nascar rocks! I just wish that Dale was doing better this year.

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