Moonshine History Exhibit During Fall AutoFair
CONCORD, N.C. – It’s no coincidence that moonshine liquor and stock car racing both came from the Carolinas, with roots that go back 222 years.
A special exhibit during the Sept. 19-22 AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway will show how the demand for illegal “white lightning” whiskey gave birth to the most popular form of motorsports in America today.
One vehicle that will be part of the moonshining display housed in the Showcase Pavillion is a 1935 Ford Coupe, which was previously owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson. Other vehicles include a 1940 Ford Coach, a 1960 Chevy Impala and the original 1963 Mayberry Ford police car used to track down moonshiners on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
In addition, Josh and Bill from Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” will sign autographs on Friday, Sept. 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 21 from noon to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m., courtesy of Ole Smoky Moonshine.
The federal government’s whiskey excise tax of 1791 ruffled the feathers of the poor Scottish and Irish Appalachian mountain settlers who relied on homegrown hooch for income and recreation. After the Civil War, the south owed millions of dollars in unpaid tribute, so the United States Treasury Department created the Revenue Bureau, whose agents tried to eliminate untaxed sources of alcohol by destroying hidden stills. Safe delivery of contraband party fuel became a thriving underground industry throughout the mountains of the American Southeast. Distribution of the “moonshine” (so called because it was made and sold by the light of the moon) took place by horse cart and, when possible, by boat.
In the early twentieth century, moonshiners began using commercial trucks, but those were easy to spot and too slow to evade the “revenooer” agents. Motivated sellers began using ordinary passenger cars modified for greater speed with flathead V-8 engines, heavy-duty station wagon and truck suspension parts, and high-load bias-ply tires on wider wheels. The clear cargo initially rode in Mason jars, but plastic gallon milk jugs soon became the containers of choice because gravel roads were not kind to glass. On more specialized vehicles, trunks and rear seat areas were filled with custom stainless steel tanks that could be filled and drained quickly.