What was the most popular car for running moonshine?
HOW THE PROHIBITION LEAD TO STOCK CAR RACING – MOONSHINE & BOOTLEGGERS Made in the cover of night to prevent the detection of smoke rising from clandestine stills earned the alcohol its name: moonshine, The high-proof distilled spirit produced illicitly, moonshine exploded in popularity when the 18th Amendment of the US Constitution instituted a total ban on alcohol. “Complete in Everything but Legality”, Still Operation Located in Large Barn, 8 Miles NW of Vancouver, WA, 1934, OHS call# 009664. Bootleggers smuggled moonshine from clandestine distilleries to risk-taking customers, often having to outwit the cops at every turn. Oregon State alcohol agents examine 100 gallon still found in raid three miles south of Loraine, Oregon, OHS call# 007151. In hopes of improving their chances of outrunning prohibition cops, bootleggers modified their cars and trucks by enhancing the engines and suspensions to make their vehicles faster. These cars were called moonshine runners, MOONSHINE RUNNING STOCK CARS Ford Model A Manual and Ford Coupes in Brochure, WOS#4129 and WOS#4128. Ford “Model A” Instruction Book Cover, WOS#4128. When modifying a car to make a moonshine runner, subtlety was the first rule. The vehicle had to look “stock” — it could not have any flashy modifications that would make the car attract attention. A variety of vehicles, including Dodge Coronets, Oldsmobile Rocket 88s, and Chevy Coupes, were used as moonshine runners. Oldsmobile 88 Ornament WOS#5756. Modifications made to moonshine runners included adding more carburetors so the car could burn more fuel, installing new intake manifolds to bring more air to engine, and over boring the cylinders to increase the car’s displacement for more horsepower. 1920-1930s era Turner Brass Works automobile blowtorch, WOS# 4152. These cars didn’t only need to drive fast — they needed to haul a whole lot of weight. Typically carrying 100 to 180 gallons of moonshine, these vehicles needed to drive at high speeds while carrying almost 800 pounds of alcohol — and they had to do it on twisting, curving backwoods dirt roads. 1920s OR License plate, WOS#1143. In order to prevent the police from tracking them down, bootleggers would use “borrowed” license plates during their runs. They would also install switches that would turn their taillights and brake lights off to help them throw off any coppers on their tail. RACING BOOTLEGGERS Junior Johnson, courtesy of Flickr (creative commons). Junior Johnson, former bootlegger, moonshiner, and NASCAR driver was known to use this move. Junior Johnson was just 14 when he began running his father’s moonshine — before even he had his license: “I didn’t need one, ‘cuz I wasn’t gonna stop!” In their free time, bootleggers would race against each other in open dirt fields or on backroads, proving who had the fastest car and who was the best driver. Lee Petty, WOS#4809. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, many bootleggers and moonshiners moved to legitimate liquor businesses. Some, however, like Junior Johnson, Benny Parsons, and Lee Petty transferred their skills of running from the law and driving at high speeds on dirt roads towards racing stock cars professionally. Lee Petty’s helmet given to fellow stock car driver Tiny Lund, WOS#0323. By 1948, permanent stock car tracks had popped up around the country, and in response to the need for a formal association, Bill France Sr. formed the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, aka NASCAR. Years later, all three bootleggers turn stock car drivers where inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Benny went on to write a book all about stock car driving techniques, #WOS3099.
What race car driver ran moonshine?
One of the best-known moonshine runners-turned race-car drivers was Wilkes County, North Carolina native Junior Johnson, a member of the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2010. Johnson won 50 races as a premier series driver.
Where did Junior Johnson run moonshine?
NASCAR Roots and Moonshine Runners Had our own Luke Denny been running moonshine in Wilkes County, North Carolina instead of Jackson County, Tennessee; most likely he would have become a legendary NASCAR driver. Luke was born in Buffalo Valley, Tennessee, just a few miles up the road from Granville and has many similar characteristics to the early NASCAR stars. Dirt tracks- NASCAR’s Beginning Many of the NASCAR early stars got their start carrying loads of illegal moonshine on rough hilly curvy dirt roads. They raced on dirt tracks on Sunday afternoon for bragging rights of owning the fastest car. The transportation of illegal moonshine in the South was a huge business. Clear Mountain Water Makes Good Shine “Back in those early days people didn’t have any money and making moonshine was a way to have some spending money. First you looked for good, clear, fresh mountain water, without a trace of minerals. Then you had to find a good cover for a hiding place.
Dad always made sure his sugar came for Gainesboro, was the best he could buy. The moonshine had to be heated and cooled, just so. He was particular about his liquor and people seemed proud to get dad’s shine. We were honored, back then, to be known as good whiskey makers. People today have a different view of those old days,” Joe Haney told Luke Denny in an interview for the book Moonshine and Midnight Rendezvous,
“In the early ‘40’s dad had big trucks come from up north and the Midwest to take moonshine out. I remember one time we loaded 400 gallons in a huge truck and they had a car in front of the truck and behind the truck, as the spotter and decoy, “Haney recalled. NASCAR Hall of Fame The transportation of illegal moonshine in the South was a huge business. It put food on the table, it was a way to provide for the family. A lot of the sports early stars drove, owned, and built moonshine cars. Junior Johnson was the best-known moonshine driver in Wilkes County, North Carolina, a hotbed of the moonshine industry.
The legendary, Johnson, NASCAR driver and former moonshine runner, was a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Inaugural Class of 2010. Skilled Drivers and Accomplished Mechanics make NASCAR Stars Moonshine runners, like Junior Johnson and Luke Denny, knew the back roads like we know the road to our house and they were skilled drivers.
Just as important, they were accomplished mechanics and knew how to milk every ounce of speed out of the cars used to “run shine”. They could modify the engine of the car to produce more power, add heavy duty suspension components to allow them to carry the extra weight of the moonshine, and remove the back seat to allow more room inside for the mason jars filled with moonshine.
- The “moonshine runners”, who never got caught, knew how to rig their cars to produce clouds of smoke or drop oil from the rear of their car to delay pursuing law enforcement.
- Few laws enforcement driver could control their cars at high speeds on an oily slick road surrounded by a cloud of smoke.
- Some drivers installed steel plates in front of the radiators to keep police from shooting holes in them.
These runners were very intelligent, they were hand-on, learn-out of-necessity aerodynamic engineers. They learned if they removed the windshield wipers and taped up the openings around the headlights; they could pick up ten miles per hour in top speed and that might be all that was needed to out run the law.
Illegal vs. Legal Business Model The early illegal moonshine industry must have been a good business model, it is still in use today. The man who operated the still, the moonshiner, can be compared to the distillery, the making of the whiskey. You had the “runner”, the person who hauled the whiskey. Is that really so different from today’s distributer? We can compare the bootlegger to the retailer.
That’s where the consumer purchases the whiskey. Of course, today’s distillery, distributor, and retail stores are legal. But, my statement remains, it must have been a good business model. Want to know where the bootlegger got his name? American frontiersmen carried bottles of illegal whiskey in the tops of their boots.
- Motivation for being a skilled driver! Junior Johnson and Luke Denny were never caught with a load of moonshine.
- After all they were intelligent men who were skilled drivers and had the fastest cars on the road.
- Both men were motivated by knowing what would happen to them if they were captured.
- A quote by Junior Johnson says it best, “Moonshiners put more time, energy, thought, and love into their cars than any racer ever will.
Lose on the track and you go home. Lose with a load of moonshine and you go to jail.” Junior Johnson and his ’40 Ford Coupe Junior Johnson turns nostalgic melancholy in an interview with Sun Sentinel in Brooks, N.C. Quoting from that interview, “He is again racing his 1940 Ford coupe and running from the Feds. His memory is clear. He’s loaded with 120 gallons of moonshine, and he’s running the white lightning from his father’s copper still to speakeasies and bars all around Wilkes and Yadkin County. Luke Denny checking the bead on the moonshine before loading it in his ’40Ford Coupe. Back in the 30’s all I could haul was 25 to 30 gallons at a time because I didn’t have the money to pay for more. Plus, my car could only hold a small amount”, Luke Denny explained in the book Moonshine and Midnight Rendezvous in a conversion with Joe Haney.
But I really got to rollin’ about 1940 and probably loaded 100 gallons a week. Sometimes, I would haul every day. When I bought my new 1940 Ford coupe, I recall making three runs in one night. Do you recall what I asked you on that last load just before daylight?” Both men cracked up with laughter. It seems that both men had fond memories of running shine and both men owned and drove a 1940 Ford couple.
Junior Johnson the NASCAR Star Here in Granville, we have to rely on sports writers and what people in North Carolina say about Junior Johnson and his life’s impact on his community. Esquire magazine in the March 1965 edition Tom Wolfe wrote a story titled, “Junior Johnson is the Last of the American Heroes.” This article has been described as one of the greatest stories in sports journalism. Luke Denny with the Young Family But, Luke Denny, well that’s a different story. We knew Luke, many of us remember him well. As is the case with Jesse Young. You see Jesse was the baby that his mother, Opal, was holding when she ran to the road to try and get help.
- Her baby was limp, he was having trouble breathing.
- As it would happen, Luke Denny was on the road headed to deliver a load of shine and saw Opal frantically waving with a baby in her arms.
- He stopped to inquire of the problem.
- When she said, “I need a doctor for this baby and don’t have a way to get him there.
“Luke said, “Get in.” The moonshine delivery would have to wait. Luke reported that when he noticed the baby turning blue, he drove as if he were being chased by the law. After baby Jesse was treated by the doctor and it was announced that he would be alright, he had an asthma attack.
Dr Petty said if Luke had not gotten them to the office when he did, Jesse would not have made it. There are many other stories of Luke Denny helping a neighbor in need. He, too, drove right into the hearts of many people, it was the hearts of the people in this community. Hmm, kind of seems like Junior Johnson and Luke Denny have something else in common.
A middle Tennessee Robin Hood Perhaps South Carthage Police Chief, James Oliver Dillard best describes the Luke that we knew, “My dad, Gene Dillard sure thought a lot of O’ Luke. Nearly everyone around these parts knew Luke. Most knew the fancy dressed man was a moonshine runner. Granville Antique Car Museum A 1940 Ford coupe, like the one used by Junior Johnson and Luke Denny can be viewed at the Granville Antique Car Museum. This car was also used to run moonshine near Jasper, TN. The Granville Antique Car Museum is Open Wednesday-Friday 12-3PM and Saturday 12-5PM.
Cornbread and Moonshine Festival – May 7 The agenda for Cornbread and Moonshine Festival on May 7 will include storytelling about Luke Denny, the man who happened to be a moonshine runner. May 7th Cornbread and Moonshine Festival features a cornbread contest with sampling of award winning cornbread on Cornbread Lane and a tasting of Tennessee Spirits by the TN Whiskey Trail. For a complete agenda of the Cornbread and Moonshine Festival, go to
: NASCAR Roots and Moonshine Runners
What is the strongest moonshine ever made?
Is there 200 Proof Moonshine? – Contrary to what other people think, 200 proof moonshine exists. It’s probably the STRONGEST concentration, the HIGHEST PROOF of moonshine, and the HIGHEST PERCENTAGE of alcohol you’ll find out there. Though it doesn’t take the usual distilling process and simple tools to make this one.
- Instead, there’s a lot of complexities that go on to get this really strong drink.
- Would you dare drink a 200 proof moonshine? You’d probably say yes if you’re a daredevil.
- Drinking 200 proof moonshine is NOT OKAY.
- You’re practically drinking ethyl alcohol.
- Remember, 200 proof moonshine has 100% alcohol content contained on it.
Drinking it pure would seriously burn your throat, That being said, be careful with moonshines that have 150 plus final alcohol content. On average, 100 to 120 proof is pretty much the level people can comfortably drink their moonshine. Any more than that? That’s something else.
When was moonshining most popular?
The moonshine origin story is an interesting one. It was created before prohibition, but its story carries throughout prohibition and even beyond. It’s known for being popular during the roaring 20s, but these days it can be purchased all over the world, and it’s totally legal! However, there’s a lot you should know about the history of moonshine and moonshine today.
What is the best starter still for moonshine?
Stainless Steel Stills – Stainless steel moonshine stills are a great option for beginners. The most obvious reason being that they are much more affordable than their copper counterparts, In addition, these types of stills are also easy to clean. However, without copper to neutralize the sulphur in your mash your moonshine and it will affect its taste.