Just Like Jamie McMurray, NASCAR Also Went from Nothing To Everything

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IJuly 27, 2010

When Ben White’s “NASCAR Then and Now” hits store shelves next month you won’t need to be a history buff in order to enjoy it. Photography from Nigel Kinrade and Smyle Media, however, might make you one as they bring the story of NASCAR alive through the camera lens. 

Beginning with the book’s cover, fans are on a travel through time that starts with the inception of NASCAR in Daytona Beach's Streamline hotel in 1948, to the multi-billion dollar industry that it has become today. There was a time when racing was nothing but tearing through back roads with cars full of moonshine, before moving to dirt, and then beloved tracks such as Daytona International Speedway and Darlington Raceway.

Consisting of just six chapters, White's book lays out how the sport has evolved in nearly every aspect. That includes the personality of drivers once known as the good ol’ boys to the diverse field that now invades tracks each weekend.

Fans will then get a glimpse of the great crew chiefs that have sat atop the pit boxes, legendary owners, and the men who work behind the wall. Viewing the photography makes it easier to believe that there was a time when the only uniform of NASCAR wasn’t the multi-colored, sponsor driven one that makes drivers easy to spot, but instead was a dirty pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

Some aspects of the book won’t be new to fans; such as how their favorite driver’s car is no longer one you could drive right off the showroom floor. Strictly stock cars were the thing of the 1950s before giving way in the 1960s to Grand National stock cars. Followed were cars straight out of the production lines, then the twisted sister, which led to wing-gate, as some will remember it.

Now in 2010, NASCAR has brought back some of the past, going back to the traditional spoiler. No matter how big a sport, company, or industry becomes, sometimes all you need is a little bit of your roots to be successful.

Step-by-step through the weekend the journey goes. What is it like to be a driver who only wants to climb aboard their machine and take the checkered flag? Meeting fans, media availability, because like them or not, media members are the individuals that bring fans the stories they look for each week.

Of course, not be to be left out are the living quarters that grace the infield. Drivers could, at one time, be found staying with the race fans that came to support them each weekend, or using the family vehicle as their home away from home. Kurt and Kyle Busch bring fans an up close and personal view of driver’s new personal space: infield motor homes.

NASCAR, over the course of their 62-year history has become the biggest auto racing sport in America. Over the next 62 years, anyone of us can only imagine what’s in store.

As the age old saying goes, “In order to know where you’re going, you first must know where you came from.” Most NASCAR fans will say they know the history of their favorite sport; however, this is a different look. White’s book provides a side-by-side comparison of a time when cars graphics and computers would have sounded like a foreign language.

“In the early days, a car’s livery, or paint scheme, usually included a number and sponsor displayed by way of white shoe polish and tape,” wrote White. Shoe polish won’t be seen anywhere near a racecar now a days until someone like Chad Knaus finds a way to use it to make the car go fast.

Tape, on the other hand, that’ll always be a mechanic’s best friend. It goes with the machines that thanks to decals, wraps, and the lightest paint a team will find are transported to each race, not on the back of a pickup truck, but by haulers that have also come a long way.

They too, are just another part of the sport that has grown with the times and now your chance to relive and celebrate the past with “NASCAR Then and Now.” Look for a copy on store shelves near you starting on August 2nd or through www.motorbooks.com