America is no stranger to big thinking. Our country was christened as being the land of the free and the home of the brave. A place where we are free to be dreamers with the opportunity to make them a reality. While many are more comfortable in the status quo, big thinkers see potential in uncertainty. Big thinkers realize they will encounter challenges for trying something new but it does not stop them because they don’t view it as a road block – merely a hurdle they must overcome. They have heart, determination and vision.
You don’t have to search too hard in the sport of NASCAR® to find a big thinker. The name of the founder says it all – “Big Bill.” While most would assume Bill France, Sr.’s nickname was a result of his six-foot five-inch stature, to those who knew him genuinely, “Big Bill” reflected much more than that. He was a bigger-than-life visionary who saw the opportunity NASCAR had to move beyond a regional racing circuit and onto the national stage. He saw NASCAR as a rising culture in America. He was thinking big.
In the 1950s, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the most revered racing venue in the country. Big Bill’s dream was to build a superspeedway that would rival Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This dream would not only put Daytona on the map as the origination of stock car racing, but also as one of the premiere racing venues in the country.
The greatest speed restrictor at the time for oval track racing was the need to slow dramatically during the turns. Big Bill knew that if he could increase the banking on the turns, race speeds would increase as well. In 1958, NASCAR began the work of constructing the new Daytona Super Speedway by moving the dirt from the infield to the turns. When it was completed, the paved track had 31 degrees of banking on the turns, a 60 foot deep lake in the middle of the infield and was now one of the premiere superspeedways in the country.
The first NASCAR race held on the new track in 1959 ended in a three car photo finish that was undecided for 61 hours. Lee Petty was named the winner with an average speed of 135 miles per hour, 33 mph faster than any other NASCAR race that year. The stage was set and NASCAR now had a new blueprint for future tracks, for success and for the future of NASCAR.
At the time it was unheard of, but now it is hard to imagine NASCAR without high banking turns. It is interesting how time has that effect. What was once a new innovation with natural uncertainties, now becomes the norm. The good ideas stick around and are improved, the bad ones simply fade away.
This upcoming season of NASCAR will mark the sixth year Sunoco Green E15 has been used as the NASCAR fuel. American Ethanol has become a respected partner with NASCAR by delivering a quality, American-made product that stays true to the nature of NASCAR.
Similar to how Big Bill took the success of the new Daytona track design and expanded it across the nation, American Ethanol has expanded from its success in NASCAR to deliver the same quality product to the everyday driver across the country. Consumers can now purchase E15 at local gas stations to use in their own vehicles. There are challenges in shifting from the status quo but American Ethanol is here to stay, because it is good for America.
The No. 3 Chevrolet will be sporting the American Ethanol paint scheme for six races again in 2016 and we are excited to cheer on Austin Dillon and the rest of the American Ethanol crew. Look for the American Ethanol No. 3 as you watch this upcoming season of races!