NASCAR is one of the most popular motorsports in the world, attracting thousands of fans to the track to watch legendary races like the Daytona 500, as well as the millions of viewers who watch on TV at home.
Many of those fans probably consider themselves aficionados of NASCAR and know the names of all the great race winners from throughout the history of the sport. But how many of them know some of the weird and wonderful stories about NASCAR which appear on the list below?
The sport is not without its amazing stories of champion drivers and dramatic crashes, but many of the NASCAR urban legends and tall tales on this list seem downright far-fetched, even though many of them are actually very true.
15 Larry Smith Removed The Padding From His Helmet In 1973
NASCAR, like many motorsports, is a dangerous job, and several drivers have lost their lives during races – including Larry Smith who was involved in what seemed like an innocuous crash in 1973, but who had apparently taken the padding out of his helmet because he didn’t want to mess up his hair.
14 Curtis Turner Wore A Suit And Tie To Race In 1966
Drivers from the earlier decades of NASCAR took a very different approach to the sport compared to the very professional NASCAR stars of today.
Curtis Turner would always turn up to the track in a suit and tie and was even rumored to have raced in this outfit when he was competing in the 1960s.
13 Dale Earnhardt Jr's 2001 Wins Were Fixed
The Earnhardts are one of NASCAR’s most successful dynasties, and Dale Jr was always going to find it hard to live up to his father’s reputation.
After Dale Sr lost his life on the track in 2001, his son went onto win his first major race – leading to speculation that the result had been fixed in his favor.
12 Potholes On Daytona 500 Track
The Daytona 500 is the most prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar, so you would expect that all those involved would do everything to ensure that the event runs smoothly.
And yet in 2010, the race was delayed when a pothole suddenly and mysteriously appeared in the middle of the track.
11 Mark Martin Miscounted His Laps In 1994
Mistakes in races aren’t always catastrophic – sometimes they are just downright embarrassing, such as the incident in 1994 when driver Mark Martin pulled into the pit lane thinking he had just won the race, only to realize soon afterward that he had miscounted laps and pulled up one circuit short.
10 NASCAR Bosses Taken To Court By Jeremy Mayfield
In every line of work, bosses and staff often don’t see eye-to-eye, and the same goes for NASCAR.
Driver Jeremy Mayfield even took the NASCAR authorities to court and eventually won in an attempt to be allowed to return to racing after what he claimed were incorrect positive doping tests.
9 Voices Told Bobby Isaac To Quit The 1973 Talladega 500
In the same 1973 race which took the life of driver Larry Smith, his friend, and rival Bobby Isaac described experiencing something very unusual.
He claimed that a voice in his head told him to stop his car and quit the race or something equally bad would also happen to him.
8 Tim Flock Raced With A Monkey In The Car
NASCAR drivers usually race alone, without the co-drivers which are commonplace in other motorsports like rally driving.
However, one NASCAR driver, Tim Flock, competed alongside a very unusual partner in races in the 1950s – a monkey called Flocko Jocko who still to this day remains the only co-driver in NASCAR history.
7 NASCAR's Roots Came From Drivers Carrying Illegal Beverages
The first official NASCAR race may have taken place in 1949, but the sport’s roots actually go much further back to a time when fast drivers and their fast cars were used to transport the moonshine liquor made at illegal stills before, during and even after the prohibition years when sales were banned.
6 Junior Johnson Was Pardoned For His Part In Moonshining
A successful driver in the 1950s and 1960s, Junior Johnson was one of few bootleggers who made it into professional NASCAR racing, though he was arrested and spent a year in jail in 1957 for having an illegal still.
Johnson was later given an official pardon for this mistake.
5 NASCAR Attempts To Go Global Were Not Successful
NASCAR is one of the most popular sports in the US, and the powers that be have on numerous occasions made so-far unsuccessful attempts to take it to other parts of the globe.
Races have been held in Europe and the Far East, but Formula One remains the number one sport in those areas of the world.
4 NASCAR Winner Got His Prize In An Empty Stadium
Wendell Scott was the first black man to win a NASCAR race in 1961, although he didn’t receive his trophy until many years later, as the race was initially awarded to a white racer, Buck Baker.
Scott suffered throughout his career and only made it into the NASCAR Hall of Fame years after his death.
3 Drivers Discouraged From Unionizing
NASCAR bosses have always been keen to keep control of their sport – and their drivers. Racers have always been discouraged from unionizing, though there have been several attempts throughout the years.
The current Race Team Alliance represents 14 teams, not individual drivers, and even this limited union has attracted disapproval from NASCAR chiefs.
2 Buck Baker Enjoyed A Drink Behind The Wheel
It is certainly frowned upon for regular drivers to be under the influence while behind the wheel, so surely the same goes for racing drivers?
While they should know better, legendary driver Buck Baker was rumored to have rigged up a system in his car which allowed him to enjoy a few refreshing sips of beer during the race.
1 Tom Pistone Always Took A Life Jacket In His Car At Daytona
1960s NASCAR driver Tom “Tiger” Pistone was so afraid of ending up in the lake in the middle of the Daytona Speedway track that he used to wear a life preserver while racing there, as well as ensuring that he had an oxygen tube in the car to help him survive underwater.
Sources - Dayton International Speedway, Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, Racin Today