Auto Racing: King of the Stocks

Daytona Beach, Fla., already had a tradition of speed when a onetime Washington, D.C., garage mechanic named William Henry Getty France settled there in 1934 and opened a gas station. In 1903, Alexander Winton whistled across the hard sandy beach in a Bullet at 68.198 m.p.h. to set Daytona's first land speed record—and started a sequence that culminated in Sir Malcolm Campbell's 276.816-m.p.h. run in his Bluebird in 1935.

The next year the city sponsored its first stock-car race. It was a financial flop. But one of the drivers was Bill France; after...

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