It's a big day in Daytona Beach.

Seventy years ago Thursday, a group of men, with interests in stock-car racing, gathered in the Ebony Lounge atop the Streamline Hotel to form the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

Leading the charge to form a unified, stock-car organization was William H.G. France, better known as Bill France Sr.

France, who owned a gas station on Main Street, started promoting races on the Daytona Beach and Road course in 1938.

While [...]

It's a big day in Daytona Beach.

Seventy years ago Thursday, a group of men, with interests in stock-car racing, gathered in the Ebony Lounge atop the Streamline Hotel to form the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

Leading the charge to form a unified, stock-car organization was William H.G. France, better known as Bill France Sr.

France, who owned a gas station on Main Street, started promoting races on the Daytona Beach and Road course in 1938.

While neighboring Ormond Beach is known as the "Birthplace of Speed," it was Daytona Beach and France, who kept the area's identity with speed alive once those seeking the Land Speed Record abandoned the beach in 1935.

After World War II, France had retired as a race driver and concentrated his efforts on promoting races. He called a meeting of those with interests in stock-car racing, which led to the formation of NASCAR.

The following is a timeline of events that led up to the formation of NASCAR and events since the stock-car sanctioning body was organized.

March 7, 1935: Sir Malcolm Campbell captures Land Speed Record in the Bluebird. His run on the beach started in Ormond Beach and ended in Ponce Inlet and cracked the 300 mph mark. His average speed was calculated at 276.816 mph. The beach had been used for beach speed runs since 1903. Watching the Bluebird from the dunes that day was William H.G. France, a mechanic who moved to Daytona Beach from Washington, D.C., with his wife Anne and their 2-year-old son Bill Jr.

March 8, 1936: In order to maintain Daytona Beach’s identity with motorsports and speed, the city helps organize a stock-car race on the beach with a twist. The course measured 3.1 miles. Half of it was on the beach and the other half was A1A. The 240-mile race was won by Milt Marion in a Ford. France entered and finished fifth.

July 10, 1938: France did the leg work and local restaurant owner Charlie Reese put up $1,000 in prize money for a 150-mile stock car race on a new and improved 3.2-mile Beach and Road course. France, who finished second, collected $145. After the purse and expense money was paid out, Reese and France had cleared a $200 profit.

June 30, 1946: William H.G. France, 37, known as “Big Bill” to fellow racers, announces his retirement as a race driver to become a full-time race promoter. France created an organization called the National Championship Stock Car Circuit, Inc., and began promoting races throughout the South.

Dec. 14, 1947: France was looking to unify stock-car racing and called a meeting of the sport’s major players to the table. He organized a summit at the Streamline Hotel. Around 35 car owners, track promoters, drivers and others associated with racing showed up. When the group was done, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or NASCAR for short, was born.

Feb. 15, 1948: NASCAR sanctioned its first race for modified cars on the Beach and Road course, which was the first of 52 races for the new sanctioning body. The race course was moved to Ponce Inlet, where there was little development. The race attendance was 14,000 with adults paying $2.50 for a ticket. A week after holding its first race, France formally incorporated the National Association of Stock Car Racing. NASCAR had a slate of officers and France was elected president.

June 19, 1949: After a successful debut, NASCAR added the Strictly Stock Division to its series lineup. The first race of the new series was held in Charlotte, North Carolina on a three quarter-mile dirt oval ringed with a fence made of two-by-four lumber. 

Oct. 16, 1949: Bob Flock wins the eighth and final race of NASCAR’s Strictly Stock Division at North Wilkesboro (North Carolina) Speedway, while Red Byron, who made six starts and won two races, captured the championship. Not one driver made all eight starts. Among the tracks to host an event is Martinsville (Virginia) Speedway, a half-mile dirt oval, which has remained on the schedule to this day.

Feb. 5, 1950: France renames the Strictly Stock Division to Grand National Series. Harold Kite wins the first race of the year on the Daytona Beach and Road course. There are 19 races and Bill Rexford wins the championship.

Sept. 4, 1950: Johnny Mantz won the inaugural Southern 500 at the newly opened Darlington (South Carolina) Raceway, a 1.25-mile, egg-shaped, asphalt oval. A total of 70 cars started this historic stock-car race, which became NASCAR’s premier event for the next decade.

Feb. 23, 1958: Paul Goldsmith, driving the No. 3 Pontiac prepped by Smokey Yunick, wins the last NASCAR race on Daytona’s Beach and Road course. France has been working on building a permanent race track on the western side of Daytona Beach, near the city’s airport.

Feb. 22, 1959: The superspeedway era begins with the inaugural Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, a 2.5-mile asphalt goliath featuring 31-degree high banks. France added a curved front stretch and referred to the course as a “tri-oval.” The track cost an estimated $3 million to build. The 500-mile race produced a photo finish. Bill France Sr. declared Johnny Beauchamp the winner. Lee Petty disputed the victory. Three days later, after viewing photos and film clips of the finish, France awarded the win and $19,050 in prize money to Petty.

June 19, 1960: Charlotte Motor Speedway is added to the Grand National Series schedule. The 1.5-mile track was the third superspeedway (paved oval longer than a mile) to open for business.

July 31, 1960: Atlanta International Raceway opens in Hampton, Georgia. The inaugural race is won by Daytona Beach driver Fireball Roberts. NASCAR now has four, big asphalt ovals on its Grand National schedule.

July 16, 1961: ABC Wide World of Sports includes coverage of the Firecracker 250, which was staged on July 4. It is the first time the NASCAR Grand National Series is featured on a television network sports show.

Feb. 18, 1962: Fireball Roberts catapults to national fame by winning the fourth annual Daytona 500. Nearly 60,000 spectators witness Roberts win the race from the pole position. He led 144 of the 200 laps and beat up-and-coming driver Richard Petty by 27 seconds.

Dec. 1, 1963: Wendell Scott becomes the first African American race driver to win a Grand National race. Scott won the race at Jacksonville (Florida) Speedway, but only after he protested the scoring.

July 2, 1964: A month after being badly burned in an accident during the World 600 at Charlotte, Fireball Roberts dies from his injuries. During the 1964-65 race seasons, six NASCAR drivers die from various racing injuries sparking a safety initiative by the sanctioning body.

Sept. 14, 1969: Bill France Sr. opens a new track called Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega. The track is shaped like Daytona, but is a lane wider, slightly longer (2.66 miles) and features 33-degree banking.

March 24, 1970: Buddy Baker becomes the first NASCAR stock-car driver to crack the 200 mph mark during a test at Alabama International Motor Speedway. Less than three weeks later, Bobby Isaac won the pole for the Alabama 500 after posting a lap of 199.658 mph.

Sept. 30, 1970: NASCAR runs a Grand National race on a dirt course for the last time. The race, Home State 200, is staged on a half-mile dirt oval at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.

January 1971: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. signs a deal with NASCAR to become the primary sponsor of the Grand National Series. The marquee series is now known as the Winston Cup Grand National Series.

Jan. 10, 1972: Bill France Sr. names his oldest son, Bill France Jr., as NASCAR president. The Winston Cup Grand National Series is shortened to 31 races, which are all held on paved race tracks, including 20 superspeedway events.

January 1975: NASCAR goes to a new points system that assigns specific points to how a driver finishes each race. There are also bonus points rewarded for leading a lap and leading the most laps. Richard Petty scores 13 wins and wins the championship.

Feb. 18, 1979: Richard Petty wins the Daytona 500, but that’s not the story of the day. A last-lap brawl between Cale Yarborough and Donnie and Bobby Allison was all captured by CBS Sports, which for the first time in history, offered live, flag-to-flag coverage of a NASCAR race. The race produced tremendous ratings. Within three years, all Cup Series races were being televised live.

Nov. 18, 1979: Richard Petty rallies past Darrell Waltrip to win his record seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship. Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt captured the Rookie of the Year Award.

Nov. 15, 1980: The Dale Earnhardt era begins as the 29-year-old becomes the first and only driver to win Rookie of the Year and Cup Series champion in back to back years. Meanwhile, NASCAR goes to a shorter, wheelbase car to keep up with changing times.

April 30, 1982: Benny Parsons becomes the first driver to win a pole position by tiptoeing over the 200 mph mark in time trials. Parsons was clocked 200.176 mph in qualifying for the Winston 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway.

July 4, 1984: Richard Petty beats Cale Yarborough to win the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway for Petty’s 200th and final Cup Series victory.

Feb. 8, 1987: Bill Elliott shatters the Daytona 500 and track record for oval racing with a qualifying lap of 210.364 mph. He would go on to win the Daytona 500.

May 3, 1987: Stock-car racing’s pursuit of speed comes to an end when Bobby Allison’s No. 22 Buick strikes the catch fence at Alabama International Motor Speedway. The fence somehow holds, but several spectators receive minor injuries. This leads to the restrictor-plate era starting in 1988.

Nov. 15, 1992: The Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway becomes a seminal moment in NASCAR history. The race was Richard Petty’s last start as a Cup Series driver and first for newcomer Jeff Gordon.

Aug. 6, 1994: Jeff Gordon captures the inaugural Brickyard 400, the first NASCAR Cup Series race staged at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The win catapults Gordon into stock-car super-stardom.

Nov. 13, 1994: Dale Earnhardt, 43, ties Richard Petty’s benchmark seven Cup Series championships.

Nov. 12, 1995: Dale Earnhardt wins the NAPA 500 at Atlanta, but can’t score enough points overtake Jeff Gordon, 25, for the Cup Series championship.

Feb. 18, 1998: Dale Earnhardt ends two decades of frustration by winning his first and only Daytona 500.

2000: NASCAR begins a new round of safety initiatives after the death of three drivers (Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin, Tony Roper) — one from each of its three national series. Each driver dies from head and neck injuries.

Nov. 10, 1999: NASCAR gathers all television rights from all tracks hosting Cup Series events then offered a "league package" to networks. The TV deal, which begins in 2001 and runs for six years with NBC and TBS and eight years with Fox, is worth about $400 million a season.

Feb. 18, 2001: On the last lap of the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet goes hard into the Turn 4 wall, seconds before Michael Waltrip, driving the No. 15 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevy, takes the checkered flag. Earnhardt becomes the first and only driver ever to die in the 500. By the end of racing season, all drivers are required to wear a HANS device to protect them from serious neck injuries.

Nov. 23, 2001: Jeff Gordon, 30, earns his fourth Cup Series championship.

March 6, 2003: R.J. Reynolds announces it will leave NASCAR as the primary sponsor of the Cup Series.

Sept. 14, 2003: Brian France is named as NASCAR’s chairman and CEO replacing his father, Bill France Jr. NASCAR creates a board of directors, put in place to oversee directives of the sanctioning body. France Jr. and his younger brother Jim are named as vice chairs of the board.

January 2004: Nextel, which would later merge with Sprint, becomes primary sponsor of the Cup Series. In addition NASCAR announces a new points system that features a 10-driver playoff over the final 10 races of the season. The playoff is dubbed “The Chase.”

Dec. 12, 2005:  NASCAR's second television league contract is announced. This time the players are Fox, TNT and ABC/ESPN. The eight-year deal is worth $4.8 billion.

Feb. 18, 2007: Toyota makes its debut in the NASCAR Cup Series in the Daytona 500.

March 25, 2007: The “car of tomorrow” makes its first appearance at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch wins the race and immediately bad mouths the car. “I can’t stand to drive them," he said. "They suck.”

June 7, 2007: Bill France Jr., who took NASCAR to a national level of professional sports prominence, dies from complications from lung cancer.

October, 2009: The inaugural class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame is announced at the Hall’s new home in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first class includes Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson.

Nov. 22, 2009: Jimmie Johnson wins his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship, breaking Cale Yarborough's record.

December 2012: The “car of tomorrow” design idea is scrapped in favor of the “Generation-6” car.

Aug. 1, 2013: NASCAR finalizes its third television league contract with Fox and NBC. The new TV package runs through the 2024 season. The total package is worth $8.4 billion.

Jan. 30 2014: NASCAR announces a new Cup Series championship format that expands the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field to 16 drivers. The playoffs are divided into four segments. Drivers are knocked out of the playoffs as the postseason progresses.

Nov. 16, 2014: Kevin Harvick wins the Cup Series championship under NASCAR’s new rules.

Feb. 9, 2016: NASCAR unveils a charter system for NASCAR Cup Series teams, designed to give value to car owners. NASCAR awards 36 charters to race teams that have been running the full schedule.

July 14, 2016: Hendrick Motorsports announces that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss a few races because of concussion-like symptoms.

Sept. 2, 2016: Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces he will sit out the rest of the season because of persistent concussion symptoms. Jeff Gordon is called out of retirement to help drive the car.

Nov. 20, 2016: Jimmie Johnson catches Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt on the all-time Cup Series championships list by winning his seventh title.

Dec. 1, 2016: With Sprint out as sponsor of NASCAR’s marquee series, Monster Energy does an 11th-hour deal with the sanctioning body for naming rights.

Jan. 23, 2017: NASCAR adds stage racing to its racing formula.

Nov. 19, 2017: Martin Truex Jr. captures the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.