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NASCAR


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(National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing)

The origins of this US association lay in Florida in the 1920s and 1930s, where attempts were made on land-speed records at Dayton Beach. Its most famous meeting remains the Daytona 500, whose sixtieth anniversary was celebrated in 2009. The cars used in the races are customized versions of everyday vehicles, and at most of the tracks the races are run on ovals, drivers frequently reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour. Seventy-five million fans—mostly blue-collar/working-class—are claimed for the sport, and sociologists have linked its growing popularity in the first decade of the 21st century with a reactionary populist and nationalist response to the 11 September 2001 destruction of New York's World Trade Center (the Twin Towers): ‘these weekly races held throughout North America are transformed from benign sites of automative adoration to grandiose affirmations of “Dubya”-era political discourses and cultural economies’ (Joshua L. Newman, ‘A Detour through “Nascar Nation”: Ethnographic Articulations of a Neoliberal Sporting Spectacle’, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 42, 2007). The scale and profile of the sport were threatened by the global economic circumstances of 2008–9, with the withdrawal of corporate sponsors and a dramatic reduction in ticket sales; and at the same time the political discourses of the years in power of George W. Bush that it celebrated were challenged by the victory of Barack Obama and his accession to the White House. Former Formula One drivers have competed on the NASCAR circuit, broadening its sponsorship base during economically buoyant periods, and raising its profile outside the USA. See also motor racing.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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