| had the system figured out and driver |
It all started with races on the famed Daytona beach/road course in the late 1940's. Throughout the 53-year history of NASCAR, its race cars have been transformed from road-going, lumbering true "stock" cars into the sleek, technologically advanced machines that we see today on ultra-modern speedways. In tracing the evolution of the cars that we know today as the Winston Cup Series, it's necessary to go back to the beginnings of NASCAR and its "Strictly Stock Division."
For a certain number of years, that concept certainly worked and, through the support of fans, competitors and manufacturers, it continued to thrive. But the variety of race tracks in use and the intensity of the competition level necessitated various modifications. While many of these were instituted "in the interest of safety," manufacturers found that there were ways to integrate "high performance" parts and pieces into their mainstream production line, thereby making these "hot" parts eligible for use in Grand National racing, the forerunner of the Winston Cup Series.
One of the first items produced specifically for stock car racing was a racing tire manufactured and distributed by the Pure Oil Company in 1952. Prior to that time, street tires were all that were available for racing applications.
Not everything that was developed through this period was an integral part of the cars themselves. Two-way radios were first used in a NASCAR race at the 1952 Modified-Sportsman race on the beach/road course at Daytona Beach, Fla. Their use developed until they became an indispensable piece of equipment on a Grand National race car.
In the early 1950s roll cages also made more of a widespread appearance. Tim Flock won the 1952 Modified-Sportsman race in Daytona Beach, but was disqualified due to his roll cage being made of wood. Although some novel uses of bed frames and other iron devices were created for roll bars, their use stiffened race car chassis and improved cars' performance.
One of the first major changes in race car development came in 1953, when the Oldsmobile, Lincoln and Hudson car companies introduced "severe usage" kits, primarily composed of suspension parts, in response to an alarming spate of failures to spindles, hubs, axles and other suspension pieces.
The manufacturers were also discovering that they could introduce high performance options in their street cars that would make them eligible for the race track. Hudson's "Twin H" carburetor setup was one such tweak that Hudson drivers used to win 22 of 37 races in 1953.
In 1955, Chevrolet and Ford, mirroring their intense spirit of competition that's displayed in 2001, also had factory-backed programs. But it was Chevrolet's introduction of the 355-cubic inch "small block" V8 engine that was one of the most significant developments in the history of stock car racing. That engine, with very minor changes, is still in use by General Motors race teams across the country in most racing series.
Through this period, Marshall Teague of Daytona Beach, one of racing's true innovators who was largely credited with bringing the Hudson Motor Car Company and Pure Oil into racing, pioneered the use of Chevrolet truck spindles and suspension parts when he was competing in AAA stock car racing. The giveaway that a car was running the heavier axles and beefier suspension components was a six-lugged wheel, not the typical five-lugged version.
Buick unveiled a major coup in 1957 when it had finned aluminum brake drums on its Buick Roadmaster. The car, made famous by Fireball Roberts, used a braking system that dissipated heat more efficiently due to the use of aluminum and the finned design.
As the decade of the 1950s began to come to close and the superspeedway era was about to dawn; GM made a major change to the frame design of its cars in 1958. It debuted an "x-frame" design with a coil spring rear suspension, departing from the "box frame" with leaf spring rear suspension that was more popular and better understood by the racers.
Consequently, very few 1958 Chevrolets were used; particularly early in the season, as the racers chose to go with what they were familiar with. However, innovative mechanic Henry "Smokey" Yunick
The newer setup would prove to be the "hot tip" on the big tracks that would begin to open with the advent of Daytona International Speedway in 1959.