Before there was Prohibition, moonshiners would make their secret brew and gathering in secret locations in and around the rural areas in the south. The home made brews and homemade spirits to sell on the black market and away from alcohol taxes and alcohol bans. The illicit drinks were made with the help of the light of the moon. The shine was made often at night where law enforcement would not detect smoke rising from the stills and give away their hidden locations, the practice which earned the booze its name “moonshine.”
Moonshining dates way back to the 1700s, when officials imposed taxes on liquor sales. Immigrants and farmers throughout the south made their own batches to sell for extra cash and tax free. Money was very limited in the extreme poverty in the south. With the advent of Prohibition and the manufacturing sold like hotcakes creating a healthy black market business for secretly produced distilled moonshine.
The use of fast cars and often known as runners, the drivers often in ordinary-looking family cars who could smuggle moonshine from the backwood’s stills to customers from across the region. The runners wanted to stock and ordinary look to avoid any unwanted attention. Although, under the hood the mechanics of the cars and the hard-charging drivers behind the wheel were not very ordinary. The cars were modified with heavy-duty shocks and springs, safeguarding the moonshine from breaking on rough backwoods and bumpy mountainous roads. The rears seats were oftne removed so more moonshine could be hidden away.
As for the runner drivers, they would often know every trail in the area like the backs of their hands. The knew ho to outpace those who chased them. The drivers would often turn off their headlights to avoid beng seen. The runners were often known for their high-speed fast and reckless driving. The drivers would quickly turn the car around in a controlled skid, known as the bootleg turn to elude the cops chasing them or to play a game of chicken with them, driving head-on at full speed until they quickly changed their course. Bragging rights would often be discussed afer the runners completed their smuggling run.
The same competitive drive was often a bond among runners. The drivers with their souped-up vehicles loved to show off their driving abilities. The pastures quickly became dirt tracks, public highways became raceways and stock car racing began to take its fast track course. The era of moonshine runners became and grew into one of today’s most popular racing circuits: NASCAR.
Today NASCAR has millions of fans (in 2013, televised NASCAR races drew an average of 5.8 million viewers per race), NASCAR is an integral part of American motorsports and looks like its here to stay. (Source: Smithsonian.com)