The craft of making un-aged corn whiskey in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia pre-dates the American Revolutionary War, a recipe distilled from European roots, abundant corn, spring water running from the Appalachian Mountains and personal grit. Taxation and prohibition made it “moonshine” as individuals took to producing and distributing it under cover of darkness. As the law hunted stills, the stills crept further into the mountains. As the law chased moonshine runners, the runners turbo-charged their car engines, removed seats and modified their rear suspensions to bear heavy loads. Recreationally, the runners raced each other. Their speed and car design inspired the founding of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) in 1948. No surprise that the sport’s earliest champions were former bootleggers.
Today, stock cars, drag racers, trucks and more compete on certified tracks surrounded by spectacular festivals, and on dirt tracks that might be the place to be in a small Southern town. Because the sport was born of the American South, this itinerary will take you beyond the races to team shops, halls of fame and fabled routes run by the bootleggers themselves.
And now that micro-distillers throughout the South have worked to change legislation, you can enjoy their “sport” in the open, too. Between speedways, we’ll stop at distilleries, restaurants and bars that honor the age-old craft.