NASCAR – National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing

free essayVarious practices have diffused from one region to another. The events that were once local to a certain area and only practiced in that area have now been accepted in other regions through diffusion. One such event is NASCAR. NASCAR has diffused from the south, spreading and growing to be a reputable sport that many people now recognize. From the early days when racers raced in dust tracks to the advent of paved racing tracks, the growth of NASCAR has shown how various practices have moved from being localized in a certain region to being acceptable in other regions of the country. Despite the high diffusion rate of NASCAR, its growth was restricted by several reasons. One of these barriers was distance decay.

With the current globalization and nationalization in the world and various countries respectively, numerous cultural practices or traits have been diffused from their area of origin to other regions of the country or even other parts of the world. This diffusion has enabled the other people living away from this practice’s place of origin to enjoy sharing it with the people living in the place, from which the practice has originated. One such diffusion is that of NASCAR. The diffusion of NASCAR in the United States from the South, its area of origin, to other parts of the country shows how various practices can grow and spread from one region to become a national or international practice. This paper looks at the geographical concepts relating to the growth and spread of NASCAR in the United States.

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NASCAR is a racing event known and enjoyed by many people. According to Goreham (1997), it is a form of vehicle racing that uses standard American cars, hence the name ‘stock’, on paved oval tracks. This sporting event has been developed over the years, beginning as speed competitions to the American sport that it is now. NASCAR originated in the South. Goreham (1997) described the development of NASCAR back to the times when citizens of the south produced liquor, and customized cars were used to transport the liquor. Since this region was located in the mountainous area, the soil did not produce much apart from a few varieties of grain and corn. These grains and corn were converted to liquor to ease their transportation. The federal government was keen on controlling the liquor market and therefore, it started taxing the liquor. Goreham (1997) adds that to make sure that untaxed liquor still reached the market, the residents improved their cars’ performance to outmaneuver the local sheriffs and revenue agents. After this, drivers started racing to prove whose car was fastest. Then, races moved from various cow pastures and clearings to vacated fairgrounds and finally, into paved tracks (Goreham, 1997). During this time, the racers used American-made cars to race on dirt. In the 1930s and 1940s, the event was local to this region, only attracting a few advertisers. Farmers would make the racing track oval, while the red clay found in the foothills of the mountains provided a natural racing surface. This was before the coming of Bill Franck in Florida who mostly transformed the sport into what it is today.

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Bill Frank aided the nationalization of NASCAR after he moved to Daytona Beach, Florida. According to Newman and Beissel (2009), in 1947, Bill Frank convened a meeting of the local racing organizers to create a regulatory body whose job was to oversee various stock car races in the USA. It was here that he was elected as the leader of NASCAR. From here, the sporting event grew to various other regions of the USA to become what the sport of today. To aid the growth, the sport diffused among the population of various regions to become acceptable across the country. This type of diffusion is called reverse hierarchical diffusion. Alderman (2012) describes reverse hierarchical diffusion as a trend, whereby cultural practices spreads first in the rural areas before trickling up to larger urban areas. This happened because NASCAR was first localized in Daytona before spreading to other urban areas in the USA. More racing tracks continued to be built around the country, leading to the development of the racing series, awarding the drivers who had the top points in the competition.

The influence of NASCAR can be seen all over the various regions of the United States. According to Baker (2005), by 2005, NASCAR was the sport with the biggest pool of sponsorship money, amounting to nearly $5 billion, a network television rating of 5.1 that was only surpassed by the National Football League, and a fan base of about 7 million fans who attended the NASCAR races in 2004. Therefore, NASCAR has grown to be a sport that most people have associated with in the recent years. Again, NASCAR holds 17 out of 20 most attended sports event in the United States alone (Teal, 2005). Thus, the cultural influence of NASCAR as well as its diffusion within the American community can be observed.

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Despite the vast fan base, various factors have hindered the diffusion of NASCAR into other areas. One of these factors, which majorly show the relationship between distance and special interaction of the practice, is called the law of distance decay (Alderman, 2012). Distance is one of the major factors that have reduced the diffusion of NASCAR. Looking at the map distribution of NASCAR, one can see that the sport is mostly distributed along the South and the East coast, and as one moves further to the West, there are lesser and lesser NASCAR tracks. This shows that diffusion only happened along the South and the East coast.

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In conclusion, NASCAR’s growth and spread in the United States have been impressive. From the early days, the sport has diffused from Daytona Beach, Florida into other areas in the South and the Eastern coastline. This type of spread is known as reverse hierarchical diffusion. Many people have now come to recognize NASCAR as the sport, and the fan base around the United States has grown to about 4 million by 2005. With each year, the NASCAR fan base continues to soar high and so do the television ratings of the broadcast.