PURLEAR, N.C. -- The sun was sinking behind the hillside at the old Parsons homeplace, a few miles outside North Wilkesboro, N.C.. The scent of wood smoke was in the air when the sound of sirens pierced the chill of late afternoon.
Junior Johnson was coming up the road in a black moonshine car, a 1940 Ford, and revenuers were in the area. It was a made-for-TV moment Tuesday, the start of an evening of storytelling intended to evoke memories of the days when Johnson and others ran illegal liquor from their stills to towns and cities throughout the Carolinas and Virginia.
Moonshining was a part of the culture in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it played a role in the evolution of stock-car racing.
The NASCAR on display at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Saturday night's Banking 500 was created by Bill France Sr., who organized races on the sand at Daytona Beach, Fla. France then spiked the sport with moonshine runners who learned to drive on the twisting, two-lane roads that run through Wilkes County and on tiny tracks speckled through the South.
The men who delivered the moonshine understood that getting caught meant going to jail. To avoid that, they relied on stealth and speed, horsepower and nerve. They transformed their boxy cars into hot rods, so that even if government agents were chasing them, they could outrun and outdrive them.
"Bootleggers had the best cars," Johnson said. "There was really no comparison."
Read the complete story at thatsracin.com