Banquet - A Rich History

NASCAR Winston Cup Banquet has rich history NEW YORK (Nov. 30, 1998) The pot of gold at the end of each NASCAR Winston Cup season is the point championship. The rainbow ends each December with a grand production at the world-renowned ...

NASCAR Winston Cup Banquet has rich history

NEW YORK (Nov. 30, 1998) The pot of gold at the end of each NASCAR Winston Cup season is the point championship. The rainbow ends each December with a grand production at the world-renowned Waldorf-Astoria, the grand hotel located in the heart of this bustling city.

But the annual awards banquet, much like the NASCAR Winston Cup Series itself, has undergone several transformations throughout the years. As with other aspects of the sport, NASCAR's 50th Anniversary gives us a chance to celebrate the history, tradition and pageantry of NASCAR Winston Cup racing and its associated events.

Things didn't start out anywhere near today's grand style, which includes a well-dressed throng in the Waldorf's Grand Ballroom, including numerous major corporate presidents and CEOs. The first NASCAR Winston Cup banquet was held near the sanctioning body's headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., on what is now an empty lot on Sea Breeze Drive. In 1950, though, it was the Princess Issena Hotel.

The victory dinner was held during Speedweek -- the season-opening program of racing at Daytona International Speedway -- for the previous season's championship. Red Byron accepted a check for $1,000 that night for winning the inaugural NASCAR Winston Cup championship. That boosted his total season earnings to $6,800, which is much less than half of the approximately $20,000 a current NASCAR Winston Cup team pays for its Goodyear tires each racing weekend.

The championship banquet stayed in Daytona Beach through the 1981 season, when it was last held at the Daytona Plaza Hotel. NASCAR Winston Cup racing, what had begun as a bastion of the Southern lifestyle, was about to make a move to "The Big Apple."

One of the major off-track moves NASCAR Winston Cup racing accomplished was in moving its awards ceremony and banquet after the 1982 season to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The move brought instant credibility and recognition to the sport that, only three years earlier, had aired the first live flag-to-flag coverage of its major race, the Daytona 500.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Awards Banquet is now a much-anticipated week-long affair, with a full schedule of marketing and media activities planned for the series' newly-crowned champion. It is as much the place to be in major business circles as it is in the motorsports world.

It has become as much a theatric affair as it is a banquet and awards ceremony. ESPN, recognizing its importance and popularity to motorsports fans throughout the country and many parts of the world, annually airs the festivities hosted by a tuxedoed Bob Jenkins and Benny Parsons.

The sport has come a long way since that first awards dinner at the Princess Issena Hotel. The $1,000 champion's check Byron received is now less than 30 times smaller than the one Jeff Gordon will pick up on Friday night for winning the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. What remains the same after 50 years, though, is the desire each driver has to be the one to find the end of the rainbow.

Source: NASCAR Online

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Benny Parsons