It’s been over a week and the tracks are dark. Drivers and team members have all returned to their hometowns to re-energize their batteries for the 2018 season. NASCAR drivers’ hometowns scatter across the country and, in a few cases, the world. Many of these places are relatively unknown to the masses—unknown, perhaps, but interesting nonetheless. It seems in every small town there are stories about who lived there past or present, or what has happened since. Many NASCAR stars’ hometowns have their fair share of wonderful and interesting stories. Here are a few.
Hometowns of Some of NASCAR Stars
Any list of NASCAR driver’s hometown must start at the headwaters of NASCAR. This small city with a population of less than 2,500 has produced many NASCAR stars. All NASCAR fans are familiar with Bill “Awesome Bill of Dawsonville” Elliott and his son and current rookie Chase Elliott. But they are not alone, nor are they the entire story.
Early stars, Roy Hall, Raymond Parks and Lloyd Seay were part of a group of moonshine runners. They took their Ford V8 powered cars through the dirt country roads delivering the moonshine stilled in the hills of Georgia to the thirsty bunch in Atlanta. The speed and mobility of their cars made them nearly impossible for law enforcement to capture. Soon they began to hold races in farm pastures in the area with spectators standing unprotected around the track. NASCAR was born. Moonshine runners are no longer in Georgia but the proud tradition of stock car racing is as strong as ever here.
Cato, New York
A small village in Western New York is the home of Regan Smith. Cato was born from a Vermonter who started a Mill there. Like most towns, Cato has had its share of major fires. In 1918, an entire block was lost in a devastating fire. The Cato Fire Department owes its existence to this fire as the village understood the need for a more formal firefighting operation than its informal bucket brigade.
Rochester Hills, Michigan
You would think that Brad Keselowski would be far and away the most famous person from this small city in Southeast Michigan. In fact, it’s not even close. Madonna Louise Ciccone—yes, that Madonna—was born in 1958 and moved to Rochester Hills shortly after. Finishing second to Madonna is no small feat, though. Rochester Hills, a suburb of Detroit, was also home to four Major League Baseball players and a boy named Marshall Bruce Mathers III. You may know him as entertainer Eminem. What’s in the water there?
Danica Patrick was raised in this suburb of Rockford and has a population of just under 6,250 people. There is a museum in Roscoe which until recently held the tombstone of Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy. The funny thing is the tombstone was stolen from Oswald’s grave and the rightful owners soon claimed that the person who sold the tombstone to the museum was not authorized to do so. The fight over the tombstone appears to be over as it no longer is displayed at the museum and has been returned to Dallas, Texas.
Kasey Kahne calls Enumclaw home. Enumclaw gets its name from Native Americans which translate into “place of evil spirits”. A Native American mythology story says a father turned his two sons into thunder and lightning. The name Enumclaw means thundering noise. But the area may be most famous—or infamous—for the 2015 sex case in which an aerospace engineer was killed after having sex with a horse. Maybe the old question about a rocket scientist is overstated?
Los Gatos, California
This is the hometown of AJ Allmendinger. AJ better win some races if he wants to continue to call Los Gatos home as it was listed as the 33rd wealthiest city in the United States according to Bloomberg Business Week. The next time you rent a movie from Netflix, think of Los Gatos, which is the entertainment giant’s headquarters. Also, Author John Steinbeck wrote “The Grapes of Wrath” while living there.
NASCAR Xfinity Driver and good guy Justin Allgaier hales from this small town in rural Illinois. Like most Midwestern towns, Riverton was formed around a mill and later a distillery. It seemed to be a favorite hideout of sorts for some very famous criminals. Train robber Jessie James once spent the night in town before robbing a bank in Minnesota the following day. It is also said that mobster Al Capone used Riverton as one of his hideouts. It’s hard to believe a town with such a soiled past could produce such a nice guy as Allgaier.
St. Helena, California
Rising star and Camping World Truck Series racer Rico Abreu is from here. Nestled in the wine country of California, St. Helena is not for you if you’re a fast food junkie. Chain restaurants are not allowed and only one exists as it was there before the local law was enacted. Definitely not the “Home of the Whopper”.
Xfinity Series driver Matt Tifft calls Hinckley home. What’s interesting about Hinckley is that they celebrate buzzards, also known as turkey vultures. You see, buzzards flock to this area every March 15th as if on some sort of biological clock. The town began celebrating the arrivals of these birds in the 1950’s and today more than 50,000 visitors arrive to celebrate the arrival of these birds. Visitors partake in hikes, storytelling and arts and crafts.
Xfinity Series driver Tyler Reddick is a rising star in NASCAR and certainly a person to watch in the future. His hometown of Corning is famous for its olives. Corning is home to Bell-Carter Food Inc., the second largest olive producer in the United States. Since 1946 the city has held its annual Olive Festival, the longest-running olive festival in the United States. The festival includes such activities as a bed race and a pancake breakfast. But my favorite is the olive pit-spitting contest. In case you were wondering, this year’s winning spit was a distance of 25 feet 3 inches. No word if this was wind-aided.
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