If there’s a name in NASCAR bigger than anyone else’s, it will be the name ‘Bill France.’ There are two of them, actually. Bill France Sr. and his son, Bill France Jr., both served as chief executive officer (CEO) of NASCAR. Bill France Sr. (born William Henry Getty France) had been instrumental in the foundation of NASCAR on February 2, 1948. He and later, his son had maneuvered NASCAR from its humble and curious beginnings up to now, where it had become an authority in stock car racing in the United States (US). It is safe to say that without the man, stock cars would still be racing illegally through the dusty and sandy tracks of Daytona.
Just last year, NASCAR had made yet another move to commemorate its founder and former chairperson’s name by making it the title for the motorsport’s championship cup — the Bill France Cup. By the way, the trophy (the Bill France Cup) created by Jostens stands proud – retaining its usual size and displaying the outlines of 24 NASCAR Cup Series racetracks that compose the 2020 schedule.
But, this is not the first time that NASCAR gave the nod to its founding father. In fact, NASCAR had actually honored the man’s name back in the previous years by naming the award for the most successful manufacturer every end of the season, the ‘Bill France Performance Cup.’
It seems only logical for NASCAR to give awards not only to the winning drivers. It is a good move for the organization to also acknowledge the manufacturers’ role in keeping a close competition within the sports, proving to one another which machine setup delivers the best speeds. First awarded to Hudson in 1952, the Manufacturer’s Championship a.k.a. the Bill France Performance Cup, was a highly acclaimed title, but second only to the Driver’s Championship in terms of prestige. However, back in the days, the title was highly coveted given the number of manufacturers participating in the NASCAR Cup Series and how it helps the car companies’ advertising in the long run.
Back in those years, NASCAR racers use a diverse variety of vehicles, and car companies are not so keen to provide support to the then-budding sport until the mid-1960’s when an exclusively American manufacturer entered the scene providing factory support. The earliest manufacturers/competitors of NASCAR were Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors (GM). Although somewhat successful in the 1960s, Plymouth and Hemi never bagged the Manufacturer’s Championship until Ford’s leaving the race in the early 1970s.
In 1991, GM still raced with four different brands: Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet. The first two brands said goodbye in a span of three years and were followed by the Pontiac, which only lasted until 1994. This left Chevrolet as the remaining GM-manufactured vehicle competing. Almost 36 years since 1971, NASCAR welcomed a fresh face in the manufacturer’s championship, the manufacturer, Toyota, which hailed from Japan. In 2001, Chrysler’s Dodge re-entered the scene after a 15-year nap and abandoned the race 11 years later, leaving the cup to Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota.
The champion of this performance cup is determined using a point system based on the race results. Until the 2013 season, these points were calculated by summing up the scores made in each race by the highest finishing driver under that manufacturer. The first finisher earns 9 points for its manufacturer, the second gets six points, the third gets four points, and the fourth-highest finisher gets three points. This was changed in 2014 where NASCAR decided to follow the points system of the Owner’s Championships. In this point structure, the winning driver for each manufacturer gets the exact same points as that earned by the representing team, including bonus points for every stage won and lap lead.
Among the manufacturers, Chevrolet had been evidently the most successful. As of April 2018, it had won 779 races and nabbed 39 manufacturer championships. Comes second is Ford with 658 race wins and 15 performance cups. Dodge gets third place in wins with 217 victories. Fourth is Plymouth with 190 wins, and fifth is Pontiac with 155. Toyota takes 7th place, with currently 115 wins.
Considering the motorsports’ journey as one of the most dangerously exciting and nerve-racking motorsports in the world, it sure has still a long track ahead. Nobody can deny Bill France’s family legacy that is NASCAR, steering the wheels of stock car racing sport right to where it stands now. Now led by Jim France, Bill France Sr.’ son, we can only wait for what is to come and except for maybe a lot more because surely, there will be!