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NASCAR legend Junior Johnson is almost as well known for moonshine as he is for racing. For years Johnson “ran” his family moonshine in fast cars, which eventually led to a career in racing and NASCAR. Johnson was so skilled at racing that he became an inaugural member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which pays tribute to its own moonshine history. Johnson found a legal way to distribute his moonshine when he partnered with Piedmont Distillers, North Carolina’s first legal distillery, which focuses on superior quality spirits made one small batch at a time. Based in the town of Madison in Rockingham County, Piedmont Distillers is a small operation with only a few employees. The moonshine made here is perfectly legal and can be purchased throughout the state. The brew may be legal now, but the family recipe is still hand-crafted from corn and born in a copper still at the distillery. Johnson remains involved in moonshine production but doesn’t have to “run” it in his car anymore. Piedmont Distillers offers Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon, Midnight Moon aged with fruit (including Apple Pie, Cherry, Strawberry, Blueberry and Cranberry) as well as Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine.
NASCAR hosts races throughout North America, but only its “home track” is big enough to host its annual All-Star Race. Each May, Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord hosts this unique race where every driver is a winner. Drivers must qualify for the race by winning a Spring Cup race, championship or previous All-Star Race, making it a showcase for the sport’s top drivers. The All-Star Race features a unique format and has been the site of several thrilling finishes. The All-Star Race is just one part of the week’s NASCAR activities that include a Pit Crew Challenge and NASCAR Hall of Fame introductions. North Carolina is home to more than 80 percent of the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams. Most race shops are open for tours and guided trips are also available.
The massive international sport known as NASCAR has its rowdy roots planted deep in the mountains of North Carolina, and now it has planted its Hall of Fame here in the “heart of motorsports.” It all started when bootleggers souped up their cars to outrun the law and eventually started racing each other. Shortly after that, the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was formed the first true NASCAR race (first stock car series race) was held in Charlotte in 1949. NASCAR has been a major part of the North Carolina landscape ever since. The NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in 2010 as an interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR.
photo credit: Bill Russ | VisitNC.com