NASCAR in Primetime: an Inside Look at Life in the Fast Lane

ABC News gets an exclusive look inside the world of NASCAR.

ByABC News
July 12, 2007, 5:33 PM

July 12, 2007 — -- NASCAR – it might be the fastest growing sport on Earth and it shows no signs of slowing down. With drivers hurtling around the track at close to 200 miles per hour and fans flocking to raceways in throngs, it's a seemingly unstoppable phenomenon.

Stock car racing has its origins in Prohibition-era bootlegging and until recent years was popular mainly with Southern white men. Today, NASCAR casts a far wider net.

Over 40 percent of NASCAR fans are women. And with the introduction of drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya, NASCAR has made inroads into a growing Hispanic fan base in both the United States and abroad.

NASCAR is a multibillion dollar empire built on brilliant marketing, speed and the American dream. It already has a firm hold on the hearts and minds of Americans and now it's fixing its eye on the rest of the world.

Movies like "Talladega Nights" have thrust stock car racing into the mainstream. NASCAR is now ubiquitous in corporate America and is used to market everything from motor oil to the military. It's an organization that is highly conscious of its public image and fiercely protective of its trade secrets.

NASCAR in Primetime is the first time that NASCAR has given any news organization uncensored access to its inner workings. ABC News spent six months following drivers, fans and officials, documenting everything that happened on and off the racetrack. Our cameras saw people and places that NASCAR has never before allowed to be filmed for TV.

For the first time, viewers will get an inside look at the real world of NASCAR.

In the life of a NASCAR driver, there are tragedies and triumphs, victories and defeats. And that's just in a day on the racetrack.

Drivers are the celebrity athletes du jour -- think Michael Jordan or the Beatles, but bigger. Simultaneously adored and reviled, their on-track dramas play out like soap operas on the airwaves and their autographs can fetch thousands of dollars.