The more things change ... well, you know the rest.
Exhibit 1: "Big Bill" France scheduled NASCAR's first-ever Winston Cup race in the backyard of the man challenging him for control of American stock car racing after World War II.
The time and place: Sunday afternoon, June 19, 1949, at the three-quarter mile dirt Charlotte Speedway.
The rivals: France and Olin Bruton Smith. The same Bruton Smith who currently owns six NASCAR tracks. And he's still scrapping with "Big Bill's" sons and grandchildren over all matters great and small.
Oh, the sweet irony of it all.
France had founded NASCAR in Daytona Beach, Fla., in December of 1948. He aimed to unify the handful of sanctioning bodies that emerged when Detroit began building new cars after the war.
He correctly figured that his target audience - primarily Southern farmers and factory workers - preferred street-legal, family sedans over unrecognizable Indy-style "championship cars" or "roadsters."
Farther north, Smith had the same idea.
He had founded the National Stock Car Racing Association and was battling France and NASCAR for drivers, cars, fans and publicity.
France saw Smith as a threat - sound familiar? - but chose to go right at him instead of bobbing and weaving.
Which is why he chose to introduce his fledgling "Strictly Stock" class (later Grand National, then Winston Cup) in Smith's hometown of Charlotte.
The race would go for 200 laps. The purse was an unimaginable $5,000, including $2,000 for the winner and $1,000 for the runner-up.
Bob Flock won the pole on Saturday and led the 33-car field to the flag the next day. Nobody realized it at the time, but that moment was the birth of stock car racing in this country.
"To most everybody, it was just a bunch of people having a race," said racing legend Richard Petty.
He was 9 at the time, much too young to appreciate what was happening.
"There wasn't any schedule back then. The race just showed up and everybody drove down there for it. They wouldn't let me in the pits, so I sold programs in the infield.
"Daddy (the late Lee Petty) borrowed a friend's '48 Buick and drove it to a Texaco station near the track. He and Uncle Julian changed the oil, greased it, gassed it and went racing. Daddy ran about halfway before the right-rear blew and rolled it over. They used a rollback to get it back to Greensboro the next day. I don't know they explained the wrecked car to the guy they'd borrowed it from. I'm sure Daddy made it good, but I don't remember ever hearing about it."
Flock led the first five laps in his Hudson, Bill Blair led 6-150 in his Lincoln and Glenn Dunnaway led the rest in a Ford.
Hours later, Chief Inspector Al Crisler disqualified Dunnaway. Rules clearly prohibited modifications, but owner Hubert Westmoreland had shored up the chassis by spreading the rear springs, a favorite trick of bootleggers looking to improve traction and handling.
Instead of Dunnaway, the victory went to Lincoln driver Jim Roper.
The Kansas native had been scored second, three laps behind. Fonty Flock, Red Byron, Sam Rice and Tim Flock rounded out the top five. Westmoreland was so incensed by the DSQ that he sued NASCAR.
A North Carolina judge threw it out, the first of many times France and NASCAR have carried the day.
Only a few drivers in that first race left a recognizable footprint on NASCAR.
They included the Flock brothers, Byron, Lee Petty, Curtis Turner, Buck Baker, Jack Smith, Jim Paschal and Herb Thomas. Sara Christian started 13th and ran well until tiring and yielding her Ford to Bob Flock.
By almost any measure, the race was a success. One NASCAR official estimated the crowd at 22,500, but France, who was mindful that drivers and the taxman were watching, quickly readjusted it to 13,000.
Whatever the actual count, France was pleased enough to schedule races later that summer at Daytona Beach, Fla., Hillsboro, N.C., Langhorne, Pa., Hamburg, N.Y., Martinsville, Pittsburgh, Pa., and North Wilkesboro, N.C.
"The next race came up just like that first one had," Richard Petty said.
"It was, 'OK, this worked out pretty good, so let's go race down in Daytona Beach next month.' Back then, there wasn't much planning. Things just seemed to happen."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times