Is NASCAR's true 'home' in Charlotte or in Daytona? It depends on how you look at it.

Shane Connuck, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — On Feb. 15, 1948, following a famous meeting at the Streamline Hotel rooftop bar with founder Bill France Sr., NASCAR staged its first official race — the inaugural stock car race on Daytona Beach.

But those were modified cars, and races among those cars evolved into what is now known as NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour, previously known as the Winston Modified Tour and the Featherlite Modified Series.

NASCAR’s “Strictly Stock Series,” which is now known as the Cup Series and synonymous with the highest level of motorsports, completed its first season in 1949.

Charlotte Speedway — which closed in 1956 — hosted the first race in that series on June 19, 1949. The 0.75-mile track was located near the Charlotte Airport, off Wilkinson Boulevard on Little Rock Road, and had to close amid the construction of Interstate 85.

Red Byron won the 1948 beach race at Daytona — and is lauded as NASCAR’s first race winner and champion — while he didn’t become the sport’s first premier series champion for another year.

“Daytona ushered in the speedway era of the sport,” Kyle Petty, son of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, told reporters this week. “Then you had Atlanta, you had Charlotte, you had, over the next eight or 10 years, speedways that were built — not short tracks, speedways.”


Daytona and Charlotte have played instrumental roles in the sport’s history. But which one is “home?”

Daytona was here first

The first beach race was in 1948. Eleven years later, the superspeedway opened, and since 1959, it’s been difficult to match the magnitude of Daytona.

The inaugural race at Daytona International Speedway was held on Feb. 22, 1959. After years of watching stock cars race down the beach and up the highway, the first Daytona 500 — though it wasn’t officially called that until 1961 — drew more than 41,000 fans.


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