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Carolina Thunder Revisited: Toward a Transcultural View of Winston Cup Racing*

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Almost three decades ago, cultural geographer Richard Pillsbury documented the national expansion of NASCAR and what he considered the erosion of major-league stock car racing as a unique southern tradition. This claim is reassessed in light of recent research, leading us to suggest that the sport is actually “transcultural” in nature. It is influenced simultaneously by tradition and transition, as well as regional and national forces. In revisiting Pillsbury's seminal work, we document major changes and continuities in Winston Cup racing and briefly examine two North Carolina cases that provide contradictory views on the current relationship between the sport and the American South. North Wilkesboro illustrates how the changing geography of track locations can devalue and demoralize places associated with the tradition of southern stock car racing. The greater Charlotte area demonstrates that the South remains an important part of NASCAR, serving as a gathering place and “knowledge community” for drivers, racing teams, and fans from across the country. In addition to advancing research in the geography of sport and popular culture, the article encourages readers to think critically about regional cultures and their relationship to the forces of nationalization.
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Carolina Thunder Revisited: Toward a Transcultural View
of Winston Cup Racing*
Derek H. Alderman, Preston W. Mitchell, Jeffrey T. Webb, and Derek Hanak
East Carolina University
Almost three decades ago, cultural geographer Richard Pillsbury documented the national expansion of
NASCAR and what he considered the erosion of major-league stock car racing as a unique southern tradition.
This claim is reassessed in light of recent research, leading us to suggest that the sport is actually ‘‘transcultural’’
in nature. It is influenced simultaneously by tradition and transition, as well as regional and national forces. In
revisiting Pillsbury’s seminal work, we document major changes and continuities in Winston Cup racing and
briefly examine two North Carolina cases that provide contradictory views on the current relationship between
the sport and the American South. North Wilkesboro illustrates how the changing geography of track locations
can devalue and demoralize places associated with the tradition of southern stock car racing. The greater
Charlotte area demonstrates that the South remains an important part of NASCAR, serving as a gathering place
and ‘‘knowledge community’’ for drivers, racing teams, and fans from across the country. In addition to
advancing research in the geography of sport and popular culture, the article encourages readers to think
critically about regional cultures and their relationship to the forces of nationalization. Key Words: American
South, NASCAR, sports geography, stock car racing, transcultural.
Introduction
Geographers have long been interested in
the spatial aspects of sports (e.g., Bale
1994; Raitz 1995; DeChano 2000; Newsome
and Comer 2000). Examining the relationship
between region and sport holds a central place
in this literature (Rooney 1974). One of the
most widely recognized of these studies is
Richard Pillsbury’s (1974) essay, ‘‘Carolina
Thunder,’’ in which he documented the na-
tional expansion of stock car racing and its
major sanctioning body, the National Associa-
tion of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
Pillsbury focused on the increasing popularity
and commercial success of NASCAR and the
effect of these changes on the sport’s histori-
cally strong association with the American
South. He (1974, 47) concluded: ‘‘[L]ike many
regional traditions, stock car racing is losing its
southern regional identity with the onslaught of
national attention and interest.’’ Pillsbury has
written about stock car racing on three other
occasions ([1989] 1995a, 1995b, 1996); how-
ever, few geographers have revisited his work or
examined the growing cultural significance of
NASCAR (but note Hurt 2002).
Since Pillsbury’s seminal study, the national-
ization of stock car racing has not only
continued but accelerated, making it one of
the fastest-growing professional sports in the
country. Winston Cup racing, which represents
the ‘‘major league’’ or highest competitive level
in NASCAR, leads all other spectator sports,
with an average of 190,000 attendees per event
(Goodyear 1998). NASCAR is second only to
the National Football League (NFL) in televi-
sion ratings and the racing organization re-
cently signed a six-year, U.S.$2.8 billion
contract that puts the Winston Cup Series on
network television ( Johnson 2001). In addition
to the Winston Cup, NASCAR currently
operates two lower national racing divisions,
Busch Grand National and the Craftsman
Truck Series, and several regional touring
divisions. Although the sport has long been
popular with southern working-class men,
crowds at stock car races are increasingly
affluent and diverse. A significant number of
women, college graduates, and nonsoutherners
now identify themselves as fans (Rufenacht,
Groves, and Foster 1997; Weissman 1999).
According to Mark Howell (1997, 9), Win-
ston Cup racing represents a ‘‘microcosm of
*
The authors are grateful for the helpful comments provided by the article’s anonymous reviewers as well as by William Graves, Dennis Lord, and
Donna G’Segner Alderman. We also appreciate the assistance of Harry Miller in the area of data collection.
The Professional Geographer, 55(2) 2003, pages 238–249 rCopyright 2003 by Association of American Geographers.
Initial submission, October 2001; revised submission, July 2002; final acceptance, November 2002.
Published by Blackwell Publishing, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, and 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.
American society,’’ in which we find corporate
competition, investment in high-performance
machines, and ‘‘an emphasis on mass consump-
tion of material goods.’’ Following Pillsbury’s
lead, we suggest that the sport is also an
important microcosm for exploring the rela-
tionship between regional culture—specifically,
southern culture—and the ongoing nationali-
zation of social life. In contrast to Pillsbury,
who saw a natural incompatibility between the
nationalization of stock car racing and its
continuation as a southern regional tradition,
we suggest that NASCAR is actually ‘‘transcul-
tural’’ in nature. Our use of the term ‘‘trans-
cultural’’ is drawn from Lily Kong (1996), who
focused on popular culture as the intersection
and expression of local cultural traditions and
larger national and transnational demands of
the cultural industry. As she pointed out, mass
commercialization and mass communication
do not simply obliterate local (or regional)
cultures. With this in mind, we consider how
contemporary stock car racing is influenced
simultaneously by tradition and transition as
well regional and national forces.
Examining the transcultural nature of NAS-
CAR requires that we conceptualize southern
culture differently from Pillsbury, who saw
regions as fixed and tightly bounded entities.
Regions are not just areas filled with culture,
but sets of changing relations, ‘‘places where
discrete, though related, structures intersect
and interact in particular patterns’’ (Ayers and
Onuf 1996, 4). With this dynamic view of
regional culture comes a greater appreciation
for how the South is connected to, rather than
isolated from, the larger nation and world.
Indeed, as Edward Ayers (1996, 74) contended,
‘‘[T]here was never a time when southern
culture developed secure from the outside,
when people knew just where the borders were,
when people knew just what the South was and
was not.’’ Southerners of ‘‘every sort’’ and every
period ‘‘have lived at the intersection of many
lines of influence.’’
Drawing from postcolonial theory, Helen
Taylor (2001) characterized southern culture as
hybrid—the product of exchanges, influences,
and interrelationships. Resisting the traditional
academic tendency to search for the essential
roots or origins of the American South, she
(2001, 26) encouraged scholars to examine how
cultures ‘‘circle,’’ or move—how they ‘‘affect
and interact with specific locations and times.’’
From this perspective, the national expansion
of NASCAR is not necessarily about stock car
racing losing its unique regional identity.
Instead, it can be seen as a cultural exchange
in which notions of southern and American
culture intersect, influence each other, and
perhaps fuse together.
James Cobb (1999) has provided one of the
most persuasive arguments for recognizing the
hybrid nature of southern culture. According to
him, the contemporary American South is an
inseparable synthesis of change (transition) and
continuity (tradition). The interaction between
tradition and transition in the South ‘‘may take
on a variety of shapes and yield a variety of
outcomes’’ (Cobb 1999, 192). Depending on
its location, the cultural landscape can be a
metaphor for continuity, change, or both. We
conceptualize the cultural geography of stock
car racing as a complex synthesis of changes
and continuities, a synthesis whose meaning
and impact can vary from place to place across
the landscape.
This article is organized around three major
objectives. First, we identify recent changes and
expansions in the national distribution of
Winston Cup racing. Second, we focus on
continuities in major-league stock car racing,
identifying how the sport remains connected to
the South while also expanding nationally.
These continuities include the use of regional
images in marketing, NASCAR’s historically
anti-union management style, and a persistent
lack of minority (particularly African-Ameri-
can) participation. Third, we explore, through
two North Carolina cases, the different ways in
which regional and national influences intersect
in constructing the geography of southern stock
car racing. Before addressing these changes
and continuities, it is necessary to review, in
greater detail, the work of Richard Pillsbury.
Pillsbury’s Carolina Thunder
Pillsbury (1974) divided the historical and
geographic development of stock car racing
into three stages. First, organized stock car
racing exhibited a nationally dispersed pattern
by the early 1940s, with ‘‘small quarter-mile and
half-mile dirt tracks scattered across the coun-
try’’ (Pillsbury 1974, 39). Racing centers during
this era included Soldier’s Field in Chicago,
Carolina Thunder Revisited: Toward a Transcultural View of Winston Cup Racing 239
southern New England/upstate New York,
southern California, and the southern Pied-
mont. According to legend, racing developed in
the rural South alongside the bootlegging of
‘‘moonshine,’’ which supposedly led to a love
and talent for fast, hazardous driving among
southerners. Despite these colorful roots, south-
ern racing was so poorly developed in this period
that ‘‘it was not uncommon for many of the early
drivers to spend part of the season traveling the
Northern and Midwestern racing circuits’’
(Pillsbury 1974, 39). The dispersed nature of
the sport was evident in the first few seasons of
NASCAR, which was founded in 1948 to unite
drivers under a single rule and championship
system. During the 1950 season, track locations
‘‘were widely scattered, with three each in New
York and North Carolina, two in Ohio, and one
each in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South
Carolina, and Florida’’ (Pillsbury 1995b, 277). In
that same year, four of the top ten drivers were
from New York.
In the 1950s and 1960s, stock car racing
began to grow. This growth took place pri-
marily in the South, not in other strong racing
regions in the United States. It was in this
second stage of development that the sport
emerged as a uniquely southern institution. As
Pillsbury (1974, 44) explained, ‘‘[I]n contrast to
the South where stock cars were the only cars
available, race enthusiasts in other regions
became interested during this critical period,
in a variety of cars, beginning first with foreign
sports cars and later branching out to the
European Grand Prix cars.’’ The opening of the
first superspeedway at Darlington, South Caro-
lina attracted over 30,000 fans and represented
a ‘‘turning point’’ for southern stock car racing
(Pillsbury 1974, 39). By the 1964 season, 70
percent of the top twenty drivers were from
North and South Carolina, while ‘‘only two
Midwesterners and one Californian were found
in those exalted ranks’’ (Pillsbury 1995b, 279).
Of the sixty-two major league races hosted that
year, nineteen (31 percent) were held on North
Carolina tracks. An additional thirty-seven
races (60 percent) were held on tracks in
Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida, and Alabama.
The third stage of stock car racing, beginning
in the late 1960s and early 1970s, signaled a
‘‘decentralization’’ of major league stock car
racing. Southern drivers—who had dominated
tracks in the 1950s and 1960s—were increas-
ingly competing against racers from other parts
of the country. By 1970, 40 percent of Grand
National drivers (now Winston Cup Series
drivers) came from outside southern states.
Pillsbury attributed growing interest in NAS-
CAR to increased national television coverage
and corporate sponsorship. He suggested that
the forces of nationalization and corporatiza-
tion were eroding away the sport’s traditional
connection with southerners. The mythology
of stock car racing—the belief that NASCAR
drivers are working-class country boys with
whom the rural southerner can easily identify—
was losing credibility. Racing had become a
lucrative business enterprise, and drivers had
become wealthy spokespersons and television
stars. Although Pillsbury saw the rebirth of
local short-track racing as a possible foundation
for preserving the sport’s southern identity, he
was convinced that ‘‘[a]nother regionalism is
being lost to that endless influx of carpet-
bagging corporate Yankees from the Frost
Belt who will embrace [stock car racing] and
believe that it is their own’’ (Pillsbury [1989]
1995a, 248).
Changes in Winston Cup Racing
NASCAR entered the ‘‘modern era’’ just a few
years before Pillsbury’s 1974 article on stock car
racing. The year 1971 marked a major turning
point in the corporate realignment of the sport
and its further nationalization. In that year, the
R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company began its
sponsorship of the association’s top racing
division, resulting in the Grand National Series
being renamed the Winston Cup Series. Un-
able to advertise their products on television
because of a congressional ban, R. J. Reynolds
envisioned stock car racing as a new way of
reaching consumers. In 1972, the first full year
of the tobacco company’s sponsorship, NAS-
CAR cut the race schedule from forty-eight
events to thirty-one, with the hosting of no
more than one race a week (Figure 1).
‘‘Reynolds believed that a shorter tour, profil-
ing bigger events, would create more mean-
ingful exposure and a more cost-efficient use of
its promotion dollars’’ (Hagstrom 1998, 109).
These decisions led to a spatial restructuring of
the sport—a trend away from shorter tracks or
speedways that could not accommodate the
240 Volume 55, Number 2, May 2003
larger crowds desired by NASCAR and R. J.
Reynolds. Indeed, the typical short track
eliminated during this period attracted no more
than 5,000 people per event (Hagstrom 1998).
With these changes came the abandonment of
major-league racing in places such as Columbia
and Greenville, South Carolina, Macon and
Savannah, Georgia, Maryville and Nashville,
Tennessee, and Hickory and Asheville, North
Carolina (Fleischman and Pearce 1998). By
2001, the Winston Cup schedule contained only
six short-track races. They were held at three
tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville
Speedway, and Richmond International
Raceway.
1
Another important trend in the geographic
reorganization of NASCAR has been the recent
expansion of Winston Cup racing into western
areas such as Las Vegas, Nevada (1998), Fort
Worth, Texas (1997), Phoenix, Arizona (1988),
Fontana, California (1997), and Kansas City,
Kansas (2001), as well as northeastern and
midwestern areas such as Loudon, New Hamp-
shire (1993, 1997), Indianapolis, Indiana (1994),
and Chicago, Illinois (2001). Forty-seven
percent of the thirty-six races on the 2001
Winston Cup schedule were held on tracks
located outside traditional southern racing
states, defined as Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee,
and Virginia (Figure 2). According to data
provided in Pillsbury’s 1974 study, only 21
percent of the forty-eight races held in 1970
took place outside of these same states. North
Carolina’s share of major-league races dropped
from 21 percent in 1970 to 11 percent in 2001.
The ongoing nationalization of NASCAR is
also evident when examining the growing
number of Winston Cup drivers who come
from outside the historical core of stock car
racing. From 1990 to 2001, traditional south-
ern racing states contributed only 25 percent of
Winston Cup Rookie of the Year recipients and
42 percent of Winston Cup points champions.
In contrast, between 1956 and 1980, every
Winston Cup (or Grand National) champion
was born in North Carolina, South Carolina, or
Virginia (Cain 2002). We examined biographi-
cal information for drivers who had earned at
least one point in the Winston Cup series
standings in 2001. Sixty-nine drivers identified
hometowns in twenty-three different states
and Canada (Table 1). By comparison, Pillsbury
(1974) examined the origins of sixty-one
NASCAR drivers who competed in 1970.
They originated from twenty different states.
There has been a noteworthy drop in drivers
10
20
30
40
50
1970
1973
1976
1979
1982
1985
1988
1991
1994
1997
2000
Year
Number of Races
Winston Cup Series Begins
Figure 1 Number of Grand National/Winston Cup
races by year, 1970–2001. Source: SpeedFX.com
(2001).
1970 Tracks
2001 Tracks
Figure 2 Track locations of Grand
National/Winston Cup races, 1970
versus 2001. Source: SpeedFX.com
(2001).
Carolina Thunder Revisited: Toward a Transcultural View of Winston Cup Racing 241
from South Carolina, which contributed almost
fifteen percent of all drivers in 1970 and none in
2001. States that have significantly increased
their contribution of racing talent include
California, Kentucky, Missouri, New York,
Indiana, and Wisconsin. California has sur-
passed North Carolina as the top source of
Winston Cup driving talent. The growing
influence of nonsouthern driving talent in
NASCAR is perhaps most evident in Jeff
Gordon, a four-time Winston Cup series
champion who was born in California and grew
up in Indiana.
While nonsouthern tracks and drivers have
always participated in NASCAR, significant
national expansion did not begin until the
1990s. It was during this period that the
association’s president Bill France, Jr. made a
conscious decision to expand the market area of
professional stock car racing (Fleischman
and Pearce 1998). The market expansion of
NASCAR has been fueled, in part, by the
involvement of nonautomotive sponsors such
as Tide, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Sprint, Kellogg’s,
and even Viagra. NASCAR fans are twice as
likely as nonfans to buy the products and
services of sponsors. Indeed, 72 percent of fans
actively buy brands that support NASCAR
(Johnson 2001). Sponsors who support front-
running cars demand significant visibility in
return for their large investment. Sponsors and
fans are increasingly attracted to NASCAR
because of expanding television coverage,
beginning with cable stations ESPN and
TNN and now including networks FOX and
NBC. Television is also used by Winston Cup
car owners and racing teams to scout and
evaluate the talent of drivers in lower racing
divisions, particularly drivers from outside the
South (Long 2002).
Just as the opening of the Darlington Speed-
way was a major turning point in the develop-
ment of southern stock car racing, the hosting
of Winston Cup races in Indianapolis repre-
sents an important benchmark in the decen-
tralization of the sport. The Indianapolis
Motor Speedway held its first stock car race in
1994, selling out 265,000 seats. This was
especially symbolic given that the Indiana track
is considered the ‘‘Mecca’’ of open wheel
racing, which for years wanted nothing to do
with the stock car racing crowd.
Continuities in Winston Cup Racing
The growing popularity of stock car racing
does not necessarily come at the cost of its
connection with the American South. In fact,
Winston Cup racing continues to identify itself
with the idea of a rural southern tradition
(Howell 1997). NASCAR has long cultivated
the historical image of the ‘‘moonshining’
southern stock car driver, a symbol of the
disenfranchised, rural individualist. Identifica-
tion with the agrarian South is used to trans-
form drivers into folk heroes, even though the
bootlegging of whiskey was not strictly a
southern practice and the first successful stock
car drivers were actually from the North and
Midwest. In this respect, the South is relevant
because it provides a regional stereotype or
image, an important frame of reference for
spectators and promoters of the sport. In
Table 1 Grand National/Winston Cup Driver
Origins, 1970 versus 2001
State/Country 1970 Percent 2001 Percent
AL 3 4.9 1 1.4
AR 0 0.0 1 1.4
CA 1 1.6 9 13.0
CO 0 0.0 1 1.4
CT 0 0.0 1 1.4
FL 2 3.3 2 2.9
GA 2 3.3 2 2.9
IA 1 1.6 1 1.4
IL 1 1.6 0 0.0
IN 1 1.6 4 5.8
KY 0 0.0 4 5.8
MA 3 4.9 0 0.0
MD 1 1.6 0 0.0
ME 0 0.0 1 1.4
MI 3 4.9 1 1.4
MN 2 3.3 0 0.0
MO 1 1.6 5 7.2
NC 13 21.3 7 10.1
NJ 1 1.6 0 0.0
NV 0 0.0 1 1.4
NY 1 1.6 4 5.8
OH 0 0.0 1 1.4
PA 0 0.0 1 1.4
SC 9 14.8 0 0.0
TN 4 6.6 5 7.2
TX 1 1.6 2 2.9
VA 10 16.4 7 10.1
VT 0 0.0 1 1.4
WA 0 0.0 1 1.4
WI 1 1.6 5 7.2
CANADA 0 0.0 1 1.4
TOTAL 61 100
a
69 100
a
Source: Pillsbury (1974) and data collected by authors.
a
Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
242 Volume 55, Number 2, May 2003
contrast to Pillsbury, Howell suggested that
stock car racing’s connection with southern
culture has been maintained, rather than
destroyed, by corporate America. On this point,
he (1997, 117) wrote: ‘‘It is corporate America
that utilizes stock car racing as a ‘vehicle’ for
marketing and promotion, using traditional,
mythic images of drivers as a means of
generating consumer activity and loyalty.’
NASCAR used regional imagery when it
recently announced that pop music star Britney
Spears will appear in a feature film about stock
car racing. NASCAR, who is helping finance
the film, views Spears as a means of bringing the
sport to large, young audiences across the
country, thus tapping new markets outside the
traditional fan base. At the same time, however,
the association has dealt with public skepticism
about whether the movie will be a serious
racing film by focusing on Spears’ own south-
ern roots. Born in Kentwood, Louisiana, Spears
is being represented by NASCAR executives as
a successful, southern-bred person with strong
family values, the same foundation upon which
the sport is built (Kassab 2002, E1). Rather than
abandoning regional tradition, NASCAR uses
it selectively to serve the goal of national
expansion and to balance the creation of new
markets with the desire to retain its historically
important southern fan base.
Daniel Pierce (2001, 9) provided the most
passionate argument for why Winston Cup
racing is still ‘‘the most southern sport on
earth’’ by examining labor practices found
within the sport. He wrote:
Perhaps the most glaring examples of NAS-
CAR’s deep regional roots is its unique form of
management and the lack of union representa-
tion for its drivers and mechanics: NASCAR’s
style of management is more typical of a cotton
mill than a modern, billion-dollar, professional
sporting enterprise.
On two occasions, in 1961 and 1969, stock car
drivers organized a union to address benefits,
the size of winning purses, and driver safety. In
the first case, NASCAR president Bill France,
Sr. threatened to close his tracks and worked to
discredit the union publicly, banning two of the
union’s organizers from racing. In the second
instance, organized drivers boycotted the Tal-
ladega 500. France held the race anyway, using
replacement drivers. In the aftermath of the
boycott, France added a clause to racing entry
forms prohibiting participants from joining a
union. Even today, NASCAR is still tightly
controlled by the France family and ‘‘remains
the one major sporting organization without
significant representation from the competitors
themselves’’ (Pierce 2001, 30).
Through much of its history, NASCAR was
run single-handedly by Bill France, Sr. and later
by Bill France, Jr. Although a board of directors
now oversees management of the racing asso-
ciation, the France family continues to have
tremendous influence. The family has control-
ling stock in International Speedway Corpora-
tion (ISC), a company that owns and operates
approximately half of the tracks that host
Winston Cup races. ISC also owns MRN radio,
which broadcasts all Winston Cup races, and
Americrown Service Corporation, which pro-
vides catering services, food and beverage
concessions, and merchandise sales for many
racing events (Wood 2001b). Again, Pierce
(2001, 24) compared the dominance of the
France family to ‘‘the mill owner’s control over
his employees when he owned their housing,
the company store, the school, and even the
church.’’
Drivers continue to express displeasure with
NASCAR openly; however, few come out
publicly in support of unionization. Some fear
that it may turn away fans, particularly in light
of public disfavor with other professional sports
involved in labor disputes (Wood 2001a).
Although the southeastern United States does
not have a uniformly anti-union culture (Herod
1997), the avoidance of unions by drivers
may be the continuation of another southern
mindset. On this point, Pierce (2001, 31)
contended:
To be sure, today’s Winston Cup drivers, much
like their predecessors, seem content with their
place and encouraged by the growth of their
sport. Perhaps this attitude points again to the
ongoing connection between the piedmont
South and NASCAR Winston Cup racing.
Much like the mill hand whose nonunion job
with J. P. Stephens is now a much better paying
nonunion job with BMW, they are thankful for
the work.
NASCAR enjoys certain benefits from main-
taining continuity with its southern roots; yet,
regional ties can hinder the goal of complete
Carolina Thunder Revisited: Toward a Transcultural View of Winston Cup Racing 243
national expansion. Despite its growing popu-
larity and profitability, NASCAR struggles to
attract minority participants and fans, particu-
larly African Americans. As one journalist deftly
observed: ‘‘Created on the muddy tracks of the
racially segregated South, stock car racing still
labors to separate itself from the reputation of
its birthplace—to prove the door is open to
people of all races’’ (McLeroy 1999, F10). The
first and only black driver to win a stock car race
at NASCAR’s highest level was Wendell Scott,
who raced from 1961 to 1972. The only other
African American to compete in Winston Cup
has been Willy T. Ribbs, who drove in a few
races in 1986 (Koening 1998).
As of late, the stock car racing industry has
embraced several diversity initiatives in an
attempt to transcend the image of being a
racist, southern sport. NASCAR established a
diversity council in 2000, which started in-
ternship and scholarship programs for mino-
rities, including Hispanics/Latinos. The asso-
ciation has also encouraged the formation of
minority-owned racing teams and the promo-
tion of minority drivers, although most of these
measures have taken place at lower racing
divisions, rather than at the Winston Cup level.
The most famous of the minority-owned
enterprises was a Busch Grand National Series
team started in the late 1990s by sports legends
Joe Washington and Julius Erving, although it
is no longer active. Established in 1999, HRT
is the first Hispanic-owned, sponsored, and
driven NASCAR team. More recently, in 2001,
Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push civil rights
organization collaborated with Dr. Pepper to
sponsor the teaming of an African-American
driver and owner for the Late Model racing
series (Howard 2001). Perhaps the most widely
cited program for inclusion has been the Dodge
Diversity Program, which seeks to bring more
minority drivers and crewmembers into stock
car racing.
Despite these efforts, only one African
American (Bill Lester) drove in any of NAS-
CAR’s top three divisions in 2002, and the sport
can claim only a few full-time Hispanic drivers.
In 2001, Tim Shutt became the first black crew
chief to win a race in the Busch Grand National
Series. However, even Shutt suggested that he
was the exception rather than the rule: ‘‘There
might be two or three of us [African Americans]
on the crews for Busch and two or three for
Winston Cup. If you consider there are 15
people per team and maybe 40 to 45 teams out
there, that’s not much. This sport was born and
bred and developed in the Deep South. And it’s
still there’’ (quoted in Hughs 2002, E1).
Because minorities have played such a
limited role in NASCAR, one wonders how
much stock car racing has ever been truly
representative of the South and of southerners.
Thus far, we—like Pillsbury—have defined
southern culture as the culture of white south-
erners, with little regard for the extent to which
African Americans identify with the South.
How blacks view southern culture is increas-
ingly important as larger numbers of them
migrate back to the South and seek to reclaim a
sense of regional heritage (Cobb 1999; Alder-
man 2000). Consequently, traditional symbols
of southern identity, such as the Confederate
battle flag, have been challenged on the
grounds that they alienate and offend African
Americans. In defense of these symbols, many
whites claim that the flag is a symbol of
heritage, rather than hate (Leib 1995). How-
ever, as Webster and Leib (2001, 289) have
asserted, ‘‘[T]he Confederate battle flag defines
‘southerness’ exclusively as ‘white Confederate
southerness.’’’
Although NASCAR does not officially en-
dorse flying the Confederate battle flag, it is a
common occurrence at Winston Cup races,
even those held outside the South. Some critics
connect the unpopularity of stock car racing
among blacks to the presence of these symbols
at racetracks (see, e.g., Hughs 2002). Some
spectators are reluctant to leave their flags and
symbols of the Rebel South at home. In fact,
one journalist suggested that the geographic
expansion of NASCAR into new markets has
led to an uneasiness among southern fans,
perhaps leading some to express a connection
with the Confederacy even more passionately
and defensively (Hardin 1999). This becomes
especially clear when one visits online forums
or discussion groups populated by NASCAR
fans. Over the last several years, the rec.autos.
sport.nascar group has generated several large
threads of discussion on the meaning of the
Confederate flag and the place of minorities in
stock car racing. Rather than being removed
from issues of regional culture, stock car
racing is increasingly an arena for defining
and debating southern identity. The complete
244 Volume 55, Number 2, May 2003
desegregation of Winston Cup racing involves
more than simply NASCAR transcending its
connection with the South. On the contrary, it
requires that the association address how
southernness is open to multiple and compet-
ing interpretations.
Winston Cup Racing in the
Contemporary South:
A Tale of Two Cities
As a synthesis of change and continuity,
Winston Cup racing can affect the southern
landscape in a number of different ways. Two
places in North Carolina allow us to explore the
full range of these effects. North Wilkesboro, a
small town at the foothills of the Blue Ridge
Mountains in the northwestern section of the
state, illustrates how the changing geography of
Winston Cup tracks can devalue and demor-
alize places associated with the tradition of
southern stock car racing. The agglomeration
of drivers and racing teams in the greater
Charlotte area, particularly the town of Moor-
esville, demonstrates how the South remains an
important part of NASCAR, serving as a
gathering place and ‘‘knowledge community’
for drivers, racing teams, and fans from across
the country. Although only separated by sixty or
so miles, North Wilkesboro and Mooresville
are racing landscapes that provide vastly
different perspectives on the relationship,
between regional culture and national change.
North Wilkesboro
The establishment of new Winston Cup tracks
outside the traditional core of southern stock
car racing is not just the inevitable or ‘‘natural’
diffusion of the sport, but results from the
economic decisions and actions of powerful
agents within the industry. These decisions
have a tremendous impact on the southern
landscape, as illustrated by the closing of the
North Wilkesboro Speedway. North Wilkes-
boro has a distinguished place in the history of
NASCAR, having hosted over seventy Winston
Cup or Grand National races in fifty-seven
years. Racetrack developers Bruton Smith
and Bob Bahre bought the historic track in
1996 and soon removed its two racing dates
from the Winston Cup schedule. As chairman
of Speedway Motorsports Inc., Smith owns several
other Winston Cup tracks. Bahre owns the
New Hampshire International Speedway,
which has hosted a Winston Cup race since
1993. By purchasing the North Wilkesboro
track, Bahre was able to obtain a second
Winston Cup race for his New Hampshire
track and Smith was able to obtain a race date
for his newly developed Texas Motor Speedway,
located north of Fort Worth (Macenka 1997).
Smith claims that he did not want to close the
track but refuses to operate it with Bahre, who
was quoted as saying: ‘‘I think someday some
one will have a race there [in North Wilkes-
boro] ....Butitsprobably going to be after
Bruton and I are in heaven or hell’’ (quoted in
Marshall 2001, C4).
Since losing its Winston Cup races, the town
of North Wilkesboro has suffered economically
and psychologically. A recent newspaper article
captured the mood quite well:
Nearly everyone in the region, from business
owners to those who sold parking spots on their
lawns, has felt the economic impact. Hotels,
motels, and campgrounds took a hit. Churches
and nonprofit organizations, which held their
annual fundraisers during the races, felt the
sting as well . . . . Since it was built in 1947,
North Wilkesboro Speedway had been the
spiritual backbone of Wilkes County, giving it
an international identity ....Losing the
speedway turns Wilkes County into just an-
other . . . . place to get gas on the way to the
mountains. (Marshall 2001, C4)
A survey of race spectators was conducted at the
North Wilkesboro track in 1995. Based on the
survey’s conservative estimates, the area econ-
omy has lost close to $7 million in spectator
spending for each Winston Cup race no
longer held at the track (Courbois and Combs
1995).
Clearly, the geographic decentralization of
Winston Cup tracks has the potential to bring
about the decline of stock car racing in the
southern core. In this respect, Pillsbury’s
concern about the decline of traditional south-
ern racing at the hands of corporate NASCAR
is justified. With the closing of the North
Wilkesboro track, some commentators accused
the racing association of ‘‘forgetting its roots’
and abandoning the fans who supported the
sport in its infancy (Montgomery 1999). Hal
Hamby, who had attended races at North
Wilkesboro since 1950, openly questioned the
legitimacy and authenticity of racing at new
Carolina Thunder Revisited: Toward a Transcultural View of Winston Cup Racing 245
NASCAR tracks such as the one in Texas:
‘‘That’s not racing. This is racing right here
[in North Wilkesboro]. This is where racing
grew up. This is where it belongs’’ (quoted in
Macenka 1997, B1). As evidenced by this
comment, the nationalization of stock car
racing can be contested, particularly when it
threatens notions of regional heritage and
tradition. Sport landscapes assist in the devel-
opment of geographical memory and identity
(Hague and Mercer 1998). For Hamby and
other North Wilkesboro fans, identification
with stock car racing is deeply embedded within
memories of the sport’s early racetracks. As
Raitz (1995) suggested, places where sports are
played and watched are important ‘‘theaters’’ in
the sporting experience, leading not only to a
strong attachment to place but also to feelings
of placelessness. The events of North Wilkes-
boro were very much about removing the
importance of place and geographic tradition
from the stock car racing event. Robert
Hagstrom (1998, 125) observed this when he
wrote: ‘‘The purchase of North Wilkesboro set
in motion an idea that previously had not been
given much attention: that a Winston Cup date
has marketable value, separate from the assets
of a racetrack itself.’’
Charlotte Area/Mooresville
Even in the face of NASCAR’s ongoing
national expansion and North Wilkesboro’s
decline, some parts of stock car racing are still
strongly tied to the southern landscape, parti-
cularly the region in and around Charlotte,
North Carolina. Pierce (2001) claimed that the
vast majority of Winston Cup teams and drivers
are located within a hundred-mile radius of
Charlotte. Pillsbury (1996) noted this same
pattern, attributing it to the availability of
experienced technicians and tracks for testing.
Yet even Pillsbury (1996, 56) admitted that
‘‘[T]radition likely plays a far more important
role than most aficionados would care to
admit.’’ We collected and analyzed data on
the headquarters of racing teams that partici-
pated in the 2001 Winston Cup schedule. Only
three (10 percent) of the twenty-nine racing
teams examined were not within one hundred
miles of Charlotte. Fifty-nine percent of teams
were within thirty miles of the city. The average
Winston Cup racing team was based only forty-
seven miles from Charlotte, and the average
distance dropped to thirty-five miles when
three Virginia-based racing teams were re-
moved. Our findings mirror those of Hartgen
and his colleagues (1996), who found 96 (83
percent) of 115 motor sports teams located
within one hundred miles of Charlotte in 1996.
Their analysis was not restricted to Winston
Cup race, but included teams in other racing
divisions within NASCAR. In addition, a large
proportion of NASCAR drivers maintain res-
idences in North Carolina, particularly the
greater Charlotte area. Despite the nationally
dispersed origin of Winston Cup drivers, 72
percent of the drivers examined in our afore-
mentioned biographical study identified the
Tar Heel State as their current residence in
2001. Over one-third of drivers reside in two
towns on the northern outskirts of Charlotte—
Mooresville and Cornelius.
The agglomeration of drivers and racing
shops contributes greatly to the area econo-
my, in terms of creating jobs, payroll, and
expenditures (Hartgen et al. 1996). The annual
economic impact of racing on the greater
Charlotte area has been estimated at $750
million (Marklein 2002). This is particularly
the case in Mooresville, a former textile town
that now markets itself as ‘‘Race City USA.’
Located in close proximity to the Charlotte
Motor Speedway, the town is the headquarters
for fourteen Winston Cup racing teams and
twenty-four teams involved in the Busch Grand
National and the Craftsman Truck Series. In
contrast to North Wilkesboro, the nationaliza-
tion of NASCAR has brought economic
opportunity and civic pride to this town. At
the same time that North Wilkesboro is forced
to look beyond NASCAR for a new economic
and cultural frame of reference, Mooresville
embraces its racing identity even more firmly.
For instance, Mooresville’s town board recently
approved the concept of NASCAR sponsors
donating police squad cars that will be painted
with the sponsor’s name and team number
(Marklein 2002).
Mooresville is also the location of the
recently built NASCAR Technical Institute.
The $12 million and 140,000-square-foot
facility trains automotive technicians for the
racing industry (Tomlin 2002). The establish-
ment of this technical institute contributes to
what Nick Henry and Steven Pinch (2000)
called a ‘‘knowledge community.’’ Knowledge
246 Volume 55, Number 2, May 2003
is an important factor in the development of the
motor-sports industry, leading many racing-
related firms and industries to cluster closely
together, despite the highly competitive and
secretive nature of the knowledge they use and
produce. Knowledge spreads within the racing
community through the circulation of labor,
common suppliers, and the gossip, rumor, and
observation that occurs in pit lanes, test tracks,
and race meetings. Mooresville is also a knowl-
edge community in the sense that it serves as a
gathering place for fans to tour and observe race
shops. Indeed, many of the facilities double as
tourist attractions. Mooresville has two racing
museums, one of which averages 150,000
visitors annually (Tomlin 2002). These mu-
seums, like any commemorative site, play an
important role in educating fans—particularly
nonsouthern fans—about NASCAR’s southern
roots. These museums remind us of Howell’s
(1997) contention that regional history is an
important commodity in the national promo-
tion and marketing of the sport.
Concluding Remarks
Almost three decades ago, Richard Pillsbury
found major-league stock car racing entering a
period of ‘‘decentralization.’’ True to his ob-
servations, NASCAR is increasingly national in
outlook, as evident from the widening distribu-
tion of drivers and tracks participating in the
Winston Cup Series. However, contrary to
Pillsbury’s assertions, nationalization does not
automatically rule out the existence of regional
continuities. The expansion of stock car racing
may very well support Peter Applebome’s
(1996) suggestion that the South is increasingly
defining the nation’s values and attitudes.
Admittedly, more research is needed to
examine the full range of cultural and economic
geographies that are part of NASCAR and
stock car racing. In focusing strictly on the
Winston Cup Series, we have neglected to
analyze the drivers and tracks participating in
the Busch Grand National Series and the
Craftsmen Truck Series. These racing divisions
represent the ‘‘farm’’ or minor-league systems
for drivers working up to a Winston Cup
appearance. Activities at these lower series can
provide important insight into the sport’s future
directions.
An analysis of Winston Cup racing also
should not overshadow the continuing impor-
tance of short-track racing. As Pillsbury ([1989]
1995b) pointed out, stock car racing is not a
single sport. He identified at least three
different racing milieus that warrant their own
unique analyses: the super speedway, the short
paved track, and the short dirt track. Future
work should also move beyond simply analyz-
ing spatial distributions and focus greater
attention on the social relations constituted
within the sport. For example, NASCAR is
largely male and would serve as an excellent
forum for investigating the construction of
gendered landscapes in sports.
In closing, it is our hope that this article has
encouraged readers to think critically about
regional cultures and their relationship to the
forces of nationalization. It is easy—and often
justified—to characterize the South as more
resistant to change than the rest of the country.
Such an idea fails to consider how southern
culture influences and intersects with larger
national interests, thus producing a hybrid
geography in which changes and continuities
exist alongside each other. As Kong (1996) has
suggested, it is useful to see how interactions
between local and global (or in this case, region
and nation) are relational in nature, rather than
oppositional. Such a perspective provides us
ample opportunities to reinterpret, not only the
sport of stock car racing, but all of American
cultural geography.
Note
1
The Bristol Motor Speedway is a little over half of a
mile in length, but it has been expanded recently to
seat over 130,000 people.
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DEREK H. ALDERMAN is an Assistant Professor
in the Department of Geography, East Carolina
University, Greenville, NC 27858. E-mail: alder
mand@mail.ecu.edu. His research interests include
the cultural geographies of the American South, with
a specific focus on popular culture and the politics of
regional identity.
PRESTON W. MITCHELL is completing a
Master of Arts in Public Administration at East
Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858. E-mail:
pwm0809@mail.ecu.edu. His interests include com-
munity and economic development, particularly as
related to issues of culture. He is a lifelong NASCAR
fan.
JEFFREY T. WEBB recently graduated with a
Bachelor of Science in Geography from East
Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858. E-mail:
jtw0605@mail.ecu.edu. His interests include geo-
graphic techniques and spatial analysis within human
geography.
DEREK HANAK recently graduated with a Master
of Arts in Geography from East Carolina University,
Greenville, NC 27858. E-mail: dph0322@mail.
ecu.edu. His interests include geographic techniques,
North Carolina studies, and hazard mitigation.
Carolina Thunder Revisited: Toward a Transcultural View of Winston Cup Racing 249
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... This area has been the home of NASCAR racing for over 80 years, and it is now best known as the 'NASCAR Valley' for its concentration of motorsport-related knowledge and the high profile of its skilled workforce. Research to date has focused mainly on the cultural aspects affecting the sport (see Pillsbury 1974;Howell 1997;Alderman et al. 2003), the economic impact of NASCAR racing in the Charlotte region (Hartgen et al. 1996) and the nature of the cluster (Hurt 2002). However, new trends seem to emerge, with NASCAR companies developing links with companies located outside the cluster (and in particular with companies located in the UK motorsport industry). ...
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In this paper, we explore trans-local relationships and their changing dynamics over time, particularly emphasizing their knowledge flows. The underlying proposition is that the clusters are not isolated entities and that inter-cluster ties are as significant as local ties in sustaining the co-evolution of clusters. We use historical and retrospective analyses to study the inter-linkages between the NASCAR cluster and the UK motorsport industry. Our findings highlight that the structure of the inter-firm ties between the two clusters has evolved over time with a marked increase in the number of linkages established and the transfer of more sophisticated knowledge and components. At the same time, the research highlights some impediments that have delayed the transition of the NASCAR cluster to a more open entity. The authors propound that co-location and proximity are poor indicators of the structure of clusters and that the inter-cluster linkages play an important role in their co-evolution.
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The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) formed on April Fools' Day 1992 and now has approximately 500 members and a national racing circuit. This paper examines the geography of the USLMRA as well as the reasons for its expansion. Professional lawn mower racing's popularity is somewhat in response to NASCAR's commercialization and nationalization efforts. Lawn mower racing is more affordable than stock car racing and provides an outlet for many adrenaline-enriched and mechanically inclined individuals. The national circuit runs through traditional stock car country - from Texas and Florida to Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio. The majority of USLMRA members and many of the top drivers are also from the upper Midwest and southeastern United States, those culture regions that have long been known to support racing of all kinds.
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In contemporary culture, the stereotypical trappings of “redneckism” have been appropriated for everything from movies like Smokey and the Bandit to comedy acts like Larry the Cable Guy. Even a recent president, George W. Bush, shunned his patrician pedigree in favor of cowboy “authenticity” to appeal to voters. Whether identified with hard work and patriotism or with narrow-minded bigotry, the Redneck and its variants have become firmly established in American narrative consciousness. This provocative book traces the emergence of the faux-Redneck within the context of literary and cultural studies. Examining the icon’s foundations in James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo-”an ideal white man, free of the boundaries of civilization”-and the degraded rural poor of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road, Matthew Ferrence shows how Redneck stereotypes were further extended in Deliverance, both the novel and the film, and in a popular cycle of movies starring Burt Reynolds in the 1970s and’80s, among other manifestations. As a contemporary cultural figure, the author argues, the Redneck represents no one in particular but offers a model of behavior and ideals for many. Most important, it has become a tool-reductive, confining, and (sometimes, almost) liberating-by which elite forces gather and maintain social and economic power. Those defying its boundaries, as the Dixie Chicks did when they criticized President Bush and the Iraq invasion, have done so at their own peril. Ferrence contends that a refocus of attention to the complex realities depicted in the writings of such authors as Silas House, Fred Chappell, Janisse Ray, and Trudier Harris can help dislodge persistent stereotypes and encourage more nuanced understandings of regional identity. In a cultural moment when so-called Reality Television has turned again toward popular images of rural Americans (as in, for example, Duck Dynasty and Moonshiners), All- American Redneck reveals the way in which such images have long been manipulated for particular social goals, almost always as a means to solidify the position of the powerful at the expense of the regional. © 2014 by The University of Tennessee Press/Knoxville. All Rights Reserved.
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On June 19, 1949, the Charlotte Speedway hosted nascar's first official race of "strictly stock" cars, serving as the inaugural event for a division that ultimately grew into the prominent Sprint Cup Series operating today. Although modest by current standards, the Charlotte Speedway was larger than many other tracks in the South at the time. It was a three-quarter-mile, slightly banked dirt track. The race attracted a crowd of over twenty thousand spectators who watched thirty-three drivers compete for a then-generous $5,000 purse. Drivers included Lee Petty, the father of the famous Richard "the King" Petty and a superstar in his own right, Hall of Fame driver Red Byron, and Sara Christian, the first woman driver in nascar histor y. The race, successful on many levels, began the process of mythologizing the sport and its participants. Glenn Dunnaway of Gastonia, North Carolina, was initially declared the winner but disqualified when his car, which he used for bootlegging moonshine, was found to have been illegally modified.1 Lee Petty raced a Buick Roadmaster borrowed from a friend. He eventually wrecked the car (after rolling it four times), forcing him and his family, including eleven-year-old son Richard, to hitch a ride home. 2 Racing in Charlotte dates back to the early 1900s, but that 1949 race was the beginning of an active and lucrative relationship with nascar, the major sanctioning body for stock-car racing. The official birthplace of nascar is Daytona Beach, Florida, where Bill France and a few others established the racing association at the Streamline Hotel in 1947 and named France its first president. However, Charlotte and its surrounding towns (such as Mooresville and Concord) are, without question, the industrial and cultural home of the sport. Unlike other professional sports in Charlotte, like football and basketball, which have at times received lukewarm public support, interest in stock-car racing has remained consistently high in the region. In the words of one racing enthusiast, "Auto racing is to Charlotte as hockey is to Canada." 3 Yet, in the sixty years since that seminal race in Charlotte, much has changed in stock-car racing. An average Sprint Cup event now attracts almost two hundred thousand attendees, winning purses are well over $1 million, and small dirt tracks that once covered drivers and spectators with red dust have been replaced by large, paved superspeedways.4 For example, the Lowe's Motor Speedway, where major races are now held in the Charlotte area, is a one-and-a-half-mile track that, when filled with spectators, becomes the fourth-largest city in North Carolina behind Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro.5 nascar has expanded beyond its traditional southern base to become one of the fastest-growing professional sports in the country. Like Charlotte, nascar is undergoing intense development and spatial restructuring, as is evident from the widening distribution of tracks and drivers participating in the sport. nascar officials continue to aggressively identify and cultivate new markets, including international ones.6 Races are now held in several cities outside the South, including the fabled open-wheel racing capital of Indianapolis. Until the 1970s, most of leading nascar drivers were from the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia.7 Now driving talent comes from across the nation and world. One of the most talked about drivers as of late is Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia. That's Colombia, South America - not South Carolina. The days of drivers racing and wrecking the family Buick at the track are gone; they now drive highly engineered cars that undergo extensive testing using digital simulations, wind tunnels, and dynamometers, which measure horsepower and torque. In the face of nascar's increasing national (and even global) influence, the centrality of Charlotte within the sport has not waned but increased. Charlotte serves as an important gathering place within the expanding geography of stock-car racing - a point of convergence or contact zone for industry promoters, racing teams, technology development, drivers, and fans. The region serves as an important economic cluster or "knowledge community" around which stock-car racing teams, mechanics and engineers, and related firms interact with each other as they develop car innovations and maintain a competitive advantage in the industry. At the same time, however, this cluster is not just technologic in nature. Charlotte is also the destination for an important racing heritage tourism industry, serving as a "memory community" for visiting and local fans to connect with nascar's southern roots and mythologies, particularly the reputational power and allure of its drivers. In return, nascar-related activities currently contribute about $6 billion to the North Carolina economy with approximately 75 percent of that total concentrated within the Charlotte region.8 This economic impact promises to become even larger with the planned 2010 opening of the nascar Hall of Fame in Charlotte's already well-developed downtown financial district. To understand how and why Charlotte remains so central to a growing sport that, according to some critics, is losing its unique regional identity, 9 one must recognize the dynamic and hybrid nature of the American South. According to noted historian James Cobb, the region is an inseparable synthesis of tradition and transition, and the southern landscape can embody continuity, change, or both.10 Regions - and by extension their cities - are not fixed and tightly bounded entities, but sets of changing relations and structures "constituted by a dialectic of social, economic, and political interactions between individuals, groups, and institutions."11 Similarly, nascar is "transcultural" in nature and can be seen as dynamic interactions and relations that seek to extend the popularity of stock-car racing into new markets while keeping the sport tied to the South in selective ways.12 Hence, it is Charlotte's position within an array of flows (including nascar's) along with the city's other external networking that yield cultural exchanges and interrelationships that characterize and (re)construct the city. Charlotte's centrality in nascar demonstrates that regional economies and identities are not necessarily at odds with the forces of nationalization and globalization.13 Rather, Charlotte is a site for the ongoing negotiation of change and continuity in nascar. It is a place where regional, national, and global forces meet, give and take, and even clash. Indeed, while stock-car racing contributes greatly to Charlotte's economy and public image, conflict and tension have also arisen as social actors and groups in the city debate the impact of nascar on their lives and livelihood. This chapter explores the important place of Charlotte within nascar and vice-versa, how the clustering of the racing industry around Charlotte developed, the contemporary dimensions of the city's role as a knowledge and memory community, and the stresses that underlie the negotiation of the regional and the national/global via Charlotte's relationship with stock-car racing.
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This paper examines the changing landscape of organized labor in the Southeast between 1947 and today. To do so, it looks at several indicators of organized labor's experience in the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The indicators examined are percentage of the nonagricultural workforce that belongs to a trade union; numbers of unfair labor practice charges filed against both unions and employers; numbers of representation elections held and percentage won by unions; and numbers of decertification elections held and percentage won by unions. The analyses show that the Southeastern United States is not uniformly anti-union in culture and that levels of class conflict, at least when measured by such variables, have often been higher in the region than in the nation as a whole. Such findings suggest the need to rethink the nature of organized labor's experience and the geography of class struggle in the region.
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The naming of streets after Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) is an importantarena for African Americans as they rewrite the landscape of southern identity and commemoration. While less ornate and ostentatious than museums and monuments, MLK streets are powerful and highly contested cultural geographies because of their potential to connect disparate communities and incorporate a vision of the past into the spatial practices of everyday life. They reveal the importance of location, particularly intra-urban location, to public memorialization. Naming streets for King is a significant part of the nonmetropolitan South as well as larger cities and dependent upon the relative size of a city's African-American population. When estimating the intra-urban character of MLK streets within several southern states, findings suggest that they are located in census areas that are generally poorer and with more African Americans than citywide averages. Analysis reveals a geographic unevenness in the frequency of businesses having an address identified with King. When compared with the stereotypical American thoroughfare of “Main” Street, the address composition of MLK streets appears to be more residential in nature, although there is significant state by state variation.
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This article examines the ties between a Scottish town, Kirkcaldy, and its professional soccer team, Raitb Rovers. A series of field interviews and subsequent correspondence with residents of Kirkcaldy form the qualitative information upon which analysis is made. The study uses the theory of 'social memory' and introduces the concept of 'geographical memory', meaning a social memory with a specific spatial element and relationship to place. It is argued that respondents, in answering simple questions about their support for Raitb Rovers, referenced wider experiences of family and life in Kirkcaldy. It was also discovered that for respondents, Raith Rovers put Kirkcaldy 'on the map'. We conclude by arguing that there are countless geographical memories of Kirkcaldy that are fluid and continuously interacting. One such geographical memory that contributes to the identity, and an understanding of Kirkcaldy, is mediated through an awareness of Raith Rovers. Geogrpahical memories are important 'texts' that people use in their everyday conceptualisations of places.
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A debate has grown throughout the southeastern United States in the 1990s over the use of Confederate symbols. In Georgia, a vociferous fight took place in 1993 regarding a proposal to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag. The flag issue is divisive because there is no one accepted meaning attached to the symbolism embodied in the Confederate battle emblem. This paper examines the flag debate in Georgia and concludes that (1) the Georgia state flag is an example of an icon that acts as a centrifugal force splitting apart the state's population rather than acting as a centripetal force, and (2) support for the current state flag is concentrated in white-majority legislative districts in the rural parts of the state and the suburbs surrounding Georgia's largest cities.
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As an area of geographical inquiry, popular music has not been explored to any large extent. Where writings exist, they are somewhat divorced from the recent theoretical and method ological questions which have rejuvenated social and cultural geography. In this paper one arena which geographers can develop in their analysis of popular music, namely, the exploration of local influences and global forces in the production of music, is focused upon. In analysing the music of Dick Lee, a Singaporean artiste, I illustrate how music is an expression of local/national influences. At the same time I discuss how Lee's music is also reflective of the power of globalising forces, illustrating the ways in which local resources intersect with global resources in a process of transculturation. Then I discuss the ways in which musical analysis offers a handle on larger political, economic, and sociocultural developments in Asia. Lee's search for a regional sound parallels the shift in many other spheres of Asian existence whereby a new cultural assertiveness has emerged, founded on the notion of Asian values and an 'Asian Way'.