Whiskey Cars

Announcer: Go behind the wheel, under the hood, and beyond with Car Stuff from www.HowStuffWorks.com.

Scott Benjamin: Welcome to the podcast. I'm Scott Benjamin.

Ben Bowlin: And my name is Ben Bowlin. I am stone-cold sober.

Scott Benjamin: Stone cold?

Ben Bowlin: As we do this.

Scott Benjamin: Every time, right?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: Cough medicine and that type of thing.

Ben Bowlin: I've got a rough life, man. Actually, drinking jokes aside, that's a bit of a segue because we are going to talk about one of the most interesting periods, I think, in recent American history.

Scott Benjamin: I agree. The era in the early 1900s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s! That era. There was some pretty cool stuff going on on the back roads in the southeast here. That's what we're going to be getting at here when we talk about whiskey runners, rum runners, bootleggers. What do you want to call them?

Ben Bowlin: Alcohol smugglers, that's not nearly as cool.

Scott Benjamin: I like bootleggers.

Ben Bowlin: I like rum runners and moonshiners.

Scott Benjamin: Do you know where bootlegger came from? Did you read this?

Ben Bowlin: Bootlegger, anecdotally - this is not proven - but people believe the phrase "bootlegger" came about because during the pioneering days when it was illegal to sell liquor to Native Americans, there would be people who did so anyway by secreting a flask in their boot. Then, of course, they would make a gazillion dollars and live happily ever after. Probably not at that period in history!

Scott Benjamin: That differs from what I heard.

Ben Bowlin: What did you hear?

Scott Benjamin: I heard it was a Civil War era thing where they would sneak alcohol into the military camps by the same method. They put it in their boot because they had those tall leather boots they wore all the time. It was a way of smuggling alcohol into an area that it wasn't supposed to be there.

Ben Bowlin: Muy interesante.

Scott Benjamin: Yes. There are probably ten other stories about how that came about.

Ben Bowlin: And they all go back to some situation where some poor sap has to put a flask in his shoe.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. Here's where we're at. We got this note from a guy named Big Papa. You may remember that we read this email in one of our nuts-and-bolts episodes.

Ben Bowlin: We sure did.

Scott Benjamin: He said he has a growing obsession with pre-World War II cars and the people who drove them, more specif ically, bootleggers of Georgia and South Carolina, guys like Junior Johnson, Raymond Parks, and Tom Voigt. "That's my suggestion. I'm currently reading a book called Driving With the Devil that's all about Raymond Parks and his influence on NASCAR." I put it aside for a little while. Then you know when we go through our master list of what we want to do and cover, I had this note. I thought, "That sounds like an interesting topic. Let me take a look at it." Ben, I'm completely hooked on this now. There's one thing I have to say up front. I think everybody already knows this. I'm not the biggest NASCAR fan. I think NASCAR is all right.

Ben Bowlin: You're not a NASCAR hater. You're not an enemy of NASCAR.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly, so stop the hating email right now. I'm more of an open-wheel racing fan, and this is not what this is all about. This is about NASCAR and the birth of NASCAR, really. What NASCAR doesn't hold in interest for me, the story that leads up to it does. I took a quick look at an excerpt. The book I mentioned, Driving With the Devil, is by Neill Thompson. I read a couple of short articles by Neill. It describes what it's about and what his intent was with the book. You'll hear this. We're often guilty of this too, not that it's so much guilty. When you mention NASCAR, you say it arose from the back roads of Georgia with the bootleggers and the past history, and that's it. That's about all you hear from it. It's kind of glazed over in that you don't get the real in-depth story of how it all came about and who was involved. Well, I read an excerpt from his book that was in one of his articles. It's from Chapter 1, and it printed out to be seven or eight pages. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. I did this yesterday, prepping for this podcast. I didn't have time to grab the book. I want more than anything to read this book now just because of what I read in this little excerpt. That says a lot.

Ben Bowlin: Do you have a passage you want to read out?

Scott Benjamin: No, I don't want to read a passage. I'll let people find it on their own.

Ben Bowlin: No spoilers.

Scott Benjamin: It's an excerpt from Neil Thompson's book, and I would say just take a look at that excerpt and see what you think, if you're in the same camp I'm in. It just seems to draw you in with the intrigue of how this all came about. Really, some of the bigger things that were going on in the country at the time that led to the birth of NASCAR. It's like it all happened at once. A perfect storm.

Ben Bowlin: A perfect storm. That's exactly what I was going to say.

Scott Benjamin: I knew you were going to say that.

Ben Bowlin: Also, we want to refer people to - being that we are an automotive and vehicular show, we're not going to do a whole bunch about a lot of historical background, but we will recommend - and I think you guys will enjoy the episode of you haven't heard it yet, our podcast buddies, Chuck and Josh, have an episode on prohibition. They'll answer a lot of the car questions.

Scott Benjamin: That gets you right where we want you at this point. What we're talking about is the period between 1920 and 1933 in the United States, which was prohibition. Prohibition came about, what was it, the 18th amendment to the Constitution? I think it was in 1919 or something like that. I'm going to tell you now that it was repealed in 1933. That's why prohibition ended. I believe - and check me if I'm wrong, but I think that's the only amendment to have been completely repealed.

Ben Bowlin: Yep.

Scott Benjamin: Other amendments that have been repealed, only segments of those amendments have been taken away. The 18th amendment was completely repealed by the 21st amendment in 1933.

Ben Bowlin: Then there was a little thing in the interim that you may have heard of, the Great Depression. A lot of people believed that prohibition itself was ended due to the taxation incentive the government could potentially reap if they legalized alcohol again.

Scott Benjamin: This is the thing. If you don't know what's going on with prohibition, just a quick note here, it essentially made it illegal for anybody to sell, manufacture, or transport alcoholic beverages in the United States. So from 1919 - really 1920 is about when it started. It's illegal to do any of those things. Now, what usually happens when they make something illegal?

Ben Bowlin: Well, it starts out wi th the teenagers doing it, but pretty soon it ends up being everybody.

Scott Benjamin: The idea is that once it's illegal, it becomes a commodity that you can then get a lot of money for. I don't know if that's the best way.

Ben Bowlin: The criminal underworld then has an incentive to follow up on that profit margin.

Scott Benjamin: Sure. They're going to run a black market is what's going to happen.

Ben Bowlin: And gouge prices you would never see in a legitimate market.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. There's all this nefarious activity that's happening.

Ben Bowlin: Nefarious. I love that one. Diabolical.

Scott Benjamin: Thank you very much. I also like diabolical. Bruce Wayne used to say that.

Ben Bowlin: We totally grew up on comic books.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. Bruce Wayne. The reason it was repealed was because this lead to this dramatic growth. In violent and organized crime in the United States! This is where you get gangsters like Al Capone.

Ben Bowlin: Um hm.

Scott Benjamin: He made a fortune selling illegal alcohol to speakeasies, blind pigs, things like that.

Ben Bowlin: Running it in from Canada.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. And speakeasies, if you don't know - I feel like I'm going in this big circle before we get back to it.

Ben Bowlin: This is cool. Speakeasies are just where secret, private clubs where you could talk without worry about alcohol. They would also serve alcohol. However, the quality of the booze could be very, very varied.

Scott Benjamin: I want to talk about that in just a moment. From what I read, speakeasies were more of a high-class situation where men might be required to wear a suit; women would have to be dressed as well.

Ben Bowlin: Right and blind pigs were the other ones.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah. The speakeasy was the high-class club. The blind pig was more of a corner bar.

Ben Bowlin: That's where you get the carburetor moonshine.

Scott Benjamin: That's right, the white lightning we're talking about, and the corn mash stuff. The thing is that it was like a lower quality. They might just have beer or real low-end liquor. The funny thing about this was the way they got around a lot of these - the name blind pig, you know where that came from, right? Did you hear this at all?

Ben Bowlin: I'm assuming it's a reference to the blindness that can occur from drinking that.

Scott Benjamin: Nope. This came from one of these odd little things that - it's a way around the law. Remember that they couldn't sell, manufacture, or transport, right? They have this alcohol in the back room. They would draw the customers in saying, "It's 75 cents to see this -"

Ben Bowlin: Blind tiger or blind pig.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. Since you're paying the admission, here's a complimentary beverage. That's the way they get around the law. Along with your admission to see the blind pig, you get this free bottle of beer.

Ben Bowlin: So you just keep buying tickets?

Scott Benjamin: That's the thing.

Ben Bowlin: "Let me go see that pig again."

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. That's where the term came about. Supposedly.

Ben Bowlin: Supposedly. There's some anecdotes.

Scott Benjamin: I'm sure someone's going to dispute that. One quick thing. You mentioned quality. Do you want to wait on this or no, the quality of booze?

Ben Bowlin: No. We're already here. Let's do it, because it's a huge thing.

Scott Benjamin: Are you sure?

Ben Bowlin: Absolutely.

Scott Benjamin: Quality. When there's very limited supply, you've got people that are willing to risk everything to bring the people what they want. When you tell someone they can't have something, that's what they want. My wife does this all the time.

Ben Bowlin: Oh god.

Scott Benjamin: Like, "You can't have coffee today." You didn't expect it to go into this, did you?

Ben Bowlin: It's okay because she doesn't listen to the show.

Scott Benjamin: Of course not. It's about cars. Let's say you're going in for a medical procedure or something, and they tell you you can't eat after midnight.

Ben Bowlin: Then you don't get hungry until 11:58.

Scott Benjamin: That's exactly right. Then she'll say, "Then how am I going to do it?" You're like, "Are you crazy? You don't have to eat after midnight. You never do anyway." It just drives her nuts when she can't have something, that they tell her she can't have something.

Ben Bowlin: That seems sort of a common thing.

Scott Benjamin: It's the same thing with alcohol. I'm sure people went nuts when they said, "You can't have this." They said, "Well, I like that. I need it right now." There was a lot of -

Ben Bowlin: Rabble rousing.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly.

Ben Bowlin: Rabble, rabble, rabble.

Scott Benjamin: So there were people who were willing to risk everything, and they would bring alcohol, booze, whatever, liquor, whatever, champagne from Canada, from Mexico, from the Bahamas.

Ben Bowlin: From the Caribbean.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah. They would bring it up. They'd b ring it just to the edge where it was legal, and it would be the responsibility of someone to come pick it up for them. The thing with this alcohol coming from elsewhere, it would often be re-labeled. You'd have these really cheap liquors, beers, and things that were relabeled to be premium brands. People were paying high amounts for that already, and then of course it's resold even higher because of prohibition. You can see where the cost of these things was just skyrocketing. People were making money off of this.

Ben Bowlin: Hand over fist.

Scott Benjamin: Everywhere. That's right. One of the guys - do you have a note about this guy, William McCoy?

Ben Bowlin: No, you go.

Scott Benjamin: William McCoy, and there's some speculation about this too - this is all speculation on some of these, not all of them. this may be were "the real McCoy" phrase comes in, because he was one that would bring booze from the Bahamas, and bring it right up to the edge of federal waters where the law couldn't touch him. Then smaller boats would come out, load up, and then head back to shore with their illegal booze. These were the rum runners, right?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah. They were usually called rum runners.

Scott Benjamin: It was said that he would be one that would not re-label anything, and he would only bring high-quality liquor to the States.

Ben Bowlin: Good business sense.

Scott Benjamin: That's where the term came from, the real McCoy. It's not a fake. It's the real McCoy.

Ben Bowlin: That's a cool expression.

Scott Benjamin: It makes sense, but is it true or not?

Ben Bowlin: That's another thing you'll run into a lot here. When you're talking about essentially what is a criminal enterprise, there's not really a revealed history, by which I mean there's not a history that's being written down at the same time as the acts are occurring. We have books that look back on it with a certain degree of accuracy, but there's always going to be a certain margin of error. Part of the reason these guys were successful was they didn't publicize or talk about it.

Scott Benjamin: No.

Ben Bowlin: But fortunately, we know a little bit of cool stuff about their cars.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, they're talking now.

Ben Bowlin: They're talking now. Oh, buddy.

Scott Benjamin: You've got Junior Johnson who's still out there. He's what he calls himself now; a gentleman farmer at this point, which I think is kind of cool. I'd like to be a gentleman farmer myself.

Ben Bowlin: I appreciate him not going the whole nine and calling himself a squire, a country squire or something.

Scott Benjamin: I know. He's an interesting cat, that guy, that Junior Johnson. One quick thing about Junior Johnson - and I may have to dig in my notes here, so give me just a section.

Ben Bowlin: I can tell you a short story about moonshine in Tennessee.

Scott Benjamin: Great.

Ben Bowlin: Moonshining, as you know, in Appalachia is not as common as it was now. In actuality, a lot of the folks that would've been making moonshine if it was still legal are making methamphetamine.

Scott Benjamin: Oh, boy.

Ben Bowlin: It's profit margin thing. It's weird because you can still run across a moonshine still up in the hollers or something. When I was a kid, we ran into one. We totally thought it was - I thought it was part of a burned down kitchen, and the only thing that was around was the tubing you see to help with the fermentation.

Scott Benjamin: Sure. The copper tubing or whatever!

Ben Bowlin: Yeah. Then an empty refrigerator! I don't know why, man, but sometimes the woods in Tennessee are where appliances go to die.

Scott Benjamin: That and the 700-pound pile of potatoes next to it that didn't give it away. Or corn, or whatever it would be, I guess.

Ben Bowlin: It sounds obvious now, but I had a really good story about it.

Scott Benjamin: I had a friend in high school that made his own moonshine for a short time.

Ben Bowlin: No way.

Scott Benjamin: He did. His grandmother taught him how, believe it or not. Isn't that crazy?

Ben Bowlin: I believe it.

Scott Benjamin: That wasn't here either. Anyway. I got the note about Junior Johnson today. It says he lives life as a gentleman farmer on an estate in the Appalachian foothills. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan granted Johnson a full and unconditional pardon for his moonshining conviction in 1956.

Ben Bowlin: Wild.

Scott Benjamin: Isn't that crazy? So anyway, let's get back into our moonshining history bit, or our whiskey runners. Now you get an idea that prohibition was something that made whiskey something very desirable to the American public, and of course, it was one of those "if you can't have it" so you feel like you need it.

Ben Bowlin: We can assume that made it very desirable as well to law enforcement.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. They were going to do everything they could to fight this, because they knew there was this marginal side of society out there that was still enjoying partaking. I'm sure plenty of the police were at the time too.

Ben Bowlin: One of my favorite quotations about the prohibition era is that people will continue to vote for prohibition so long as they can stagger to the polls. I can't remember who said it, but you've heard that.

Scott Benjamin: Very good. Yeah, I have heard that. That's a good one.

Ben Bowlin: So this is big business.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah, it is. The reason is because - so you got all these places that are wanting to make money, both producing and selling the merchandise, which is this corn mash or whatever it is. White lightning. We'll call it that. Moonshine. How do you get it from the stills to where it's to be sold?

Ben Bowlin: Without getting caught?

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. Now, you've got police watching for this type of thing, remember. They're watching for the transport, because they know that in the foothills in the mountains in Carolina, Georgia, those areas, they're producing this stuff. I'm sure elsewhere, but this is where it's known for where it came from, I guess.

Ben Bowlin: I'll give you one thing.

Scott Benjamin: What's that?

Ben Bowlin: You drive in the dark.

Scott Benjamin: That's one thing. Another thing is you modify your car so it can carry extra weight, because you're talking about hundreds of gallons of liquid, and that weighs a lot. I don't remember what a gallon of moonshine weighs, not that I would've really known that. I should've looked it up, I guess. Let's just say it's eight pounds. If you're carrying an extra 800 pounds in your trunk, you don't think a police officer's going to notice if the trunk of your vehicle is scraping the ground as you drive?

Ben Bowlin: Yeah, back end's draggin'.

Scott Benjamin: They had special suspensions that would look the same whether it was weighted or not. Of course, they were ridiculously fast vehicles. They've got these giant V8s. The Ford V8s at the time were the ones -

Ben Bowlin: Flatbeds, right?

Scott Benjamin: Yeah. Those were the ones people would modify the heck out of these things to the tip-top of performance where they couldn't go any faster. It was probably the most popular engine.

Ben Bowlin: I read that one of the modifications they did when they were driving those Fords was that if they could find it, they would take a big Cadillac engine and switch it out to get more punch.

Scott Benjamin: Nice, like a big 500-cubic inch Cadillac engine. Those were huge.

Ben Bowlin: Yes. That sort of depends on can we fit it in?

Scott Benjamin: That's where all this shade tree mechanic engineering comes into play.

Ben Bowlin: I like that phrase.

Scott Benjamin: It's like what can I do to this car to make it better than the police vehicles that are going to be chasing me. They needed somebody. In addition to all this, they had things that would cover up the license plate so you couldn't see it, or something like that, or just no license plate at all. They would paint the cars in flat black, take off all the chrome so it wasn't reflective.

Ben Bowlin: Drive with their headlights off.

Scott Benjamin: Drive with the headlights off. another thing I read about was a toggle switch they could install that would mess with the light functions in the rear of the car, so that if they're being chased on a back road by the police for running this moonshine - they've spotted them already - they're essentially running for their life at this point, they said.

Ben Bowlin: Yes.

Scott Benjamin: They're running from the police. They did this often. They wouldn't just pull over and say, "Well, you got me." They're taking off. Then it's a game of driving skill. You're driving on a dirt road, uphill, downhill, whatever it happens to be in the hollers.

Ben Bowlin: You're very often on a curving back road. You're not on a straightaway well-paved state road.

Scott Benjamin: No, it's nothing like the police chases we see now from helicopters where they're on a highway. It's nothing like that, but the speeds are about the same, or faster. They had toggle switches where they could - say, for instance, they could disable the brake lights so the police officer behind them couldn't tell if they were braking, and then they would go too fast into a turn, and then they would slide off, and you'd be free. Maybe it completely disables the lights, so it turns into darkness, but you can still see with your headlights and escape that way. They can't follow you at that point. There's just a number of tricks th ey employed to get away. The guys that drove these cars, that's the interesting part about this. This is where we get back into Big Papa's note here about Jimmy Johnson. I'm sorry, I said Jimmy. Junior Johnson. If I said Jimmy in other parts of the podcast, I apologize. I meant Junior Johnson, Raymond Parks, these guys. There's a number of other people that have real colorful nicknames.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: They had a choice when they were young. They had this skill. They knew they could drive.

Ben Bowlin: And they knew the terrain, the area.

Scott Benjamin: They knew the area real well. They knew it like the back of their hand because they've grown up there. The choice for them was either work on the family farm, chicken farm, whatever it happened to be. I don't think at the time chicken farming was big, but it was later. Or they could work at the factory. They could go into town and get a job at the grocery store or whatever.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: OR they could make a ton of money running moonshine for the local homemade distillery.

Ben Bowlin: A ton of fast money, too.

Scott Benjamin: A lot of fast money. We're talking big money for at the time. It was big, big money. It's doing something that you like to do. It was exhilarating. It was fun. From that, they became even more skilled. Then they're honing their skills on essentially was a dirt race track. It's not really a race track, but they're treating it as such.

Ben Bowlin: And you have a huge incentive to win the race.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah. The incentive is that you don't get locked way in prison or killed.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah. And there are not the same rules of engagement we see today in NASCAR. I think that, especially Junior Johnson and some of the other drivers; I don't think they've been given enough credit a lot of times, not just for the modifications physically that they made to their vehicles, but their technique. Their driving technique here I think is key. I want to take us on a side bar real quick, if that's cool.

Scott Benjamin: Sure.

Ben Bowlin: There's this move called a bootlegger's turn. You know what I'm talking about?

Scott Benjamin: No, I don't.

Ben Bowlin: Well, we would call it a handbrake turn where you're driving, and you need to switch direction completely, so you pop the emergency brake.

Scott Benjamin: Sure.

Ben Bowlin: If you do it correctly, if you are a precision driver, a stunt driver, or a bootlegger, then you can do this turn, although it plays havoc on your suspension, your tires, and hey -

Scott Benjamin: Oh, sure.

Flat spots on your tiresBen Bowlin: Not great for your emergency brake either, as it turns out. But this move came about, apparently - again anecdotally - through bootleggers. They did start playing around with each other competitively.

Scott Benjamin: Who could make their run faster? That type of thing?

Ben Bowlin: Right. According to legend, or history truthiness, as Stephen Colbert would say, we do think that this bootlegger turn thing came abou t when someone was being chased.

Scott Benjamin: Those guys, though, they would use a throttle to do this same move.

Ben Bowlin: Right, because they had manuals.

Scott Benjamin: They had rear-wheel drive, great big V8s, these Ford V8s. They would just use the throttle to whip the back end around. Now on these front-wheel drive cars we have, we have to use the E brake to do the same thing.

Ben Bowlin: Yeah.

Scott Benjamin: It's a difficult move. Don't try it on the street or anything like that. It's fun. Do it in the snow.

Ben Bowlin: Another thing they did, stunt drivers -

Scott Benjamin: I'm not recommending that.

Ben Bowlin: Scott did not just say that.

Scott Benjamin: No, I didn't, but do it in the snow.

Ben Bowlin: And overinflate your tires. No, I'm kidding. So I just don't think that a lot of people got the credit they deserved, these drivers, for their technique.

Scott Benjamin: They were tremendously skilled.

Ben Bowlin: They're alive. That itself speaks volumes.

Scott Benjamin: Yeah. Here's where it happened. That skill from this - I'll call it a profession - this whisky running.

Ben Bowlin: This high-speed pursuit.

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. The thing that happened here is that they go to - this is happening in the '20s and the early part of the '30s, right?

Ben Bowlin: Right.

Scott Benjamin: So they've got all these tremendous skills. Prohibition goes away in '33, right? So there's no longer really a need for any of this. They still got all this skill. The guys go off to World War II, fight in the war. They come back. This is what, 1945 or something like that? They're back in whatever home town they're in in the south. Not a whole lot going on still in the farming community, although from what I hear, chicken farming - like I said - was big at the time. Let's say a farmer had an empty field and said, "I'm going to make a few bucks by turning it into a race track." They've got great, big expanses of land, and they turn it into a big dirt track. "I'm going to charge admission. I'm going to run a regular race here. A weekly race." There's promoters and everything.

Ben Bowlin: Sure.

Scott Benjamin: They needed drivers to come out and thrill the crowd, to draw people in. They go back to the bootleggers who are the ones that are the most skilled. I'm sure there were plenty of others that tried, but these guys outshone everybody.

Ben Bowlin: They're the vets.

Scott Benjamin: Outshone? Out showed? Whatever. They were the superstars of the day.

Ben Bowlin: Yes.

Scott Benjamin: Because they had all the skills necessary to d rive on dirt tracks at fast speeds. To them, this was a piece of cake.

Ben Bowlin: They were like, "Hey, I'm driving in the daytime."

Scott Benjamin: Exactly. This was back in the time when a race purse might be $300.00. They said that was only the case if the promoter didn't just leave the purse. Sometimes they'd award a trophy or whatever, and there was no money because the scoundrel who put the race on for the weekend took off with the cash, and it was never to be seen again. This racing series began, and this is where the France family came in, two guys named Red - I'll have to look in my notes again. One was Red Byron - I think that's the name of the guy who won the first NASCAR race officially. Another guy named Red I think was the one who coined the term NASCAR.

Ben Bowlin: That's true.

Scott Benjamin: The North American Stock Car Association whatever. Something like that. I'm not a NASCAR fan. Anyway, this is where the France family came in, and they still have a stronghold on NASCAR. This thing that started in these farmer's fields and cow pastures has now became a multibillion-dollar industry. There are 200,000-plus fans at races. Sponsorships are in the millions and millions of dollars just to sponsor a car. This is nothing like what it was then, only that the spirit of it is still there. The idea that you can make that car go just a little bit faster with your tinkering!

Ben Bowlin: Yes.

Scott Benjamin: This is the same thing that the whiskey runners would do with their cars. They would modify them right to the peak end that they could, and then just hope they were better than the police cars.

Ben Bowlin: Before anybody writes in to give us a slap on the wrist if you think we were glorifying these guys or lionizing them or whatever, we're not really. We think what they did to their vehicles are cool things, and we think that it definitely shows impressive technique, and we think it's a fascinating story, but we are not condoning smuggling.

Scott Benjamin: No, no. When you look back, these guys have arrests and felonies.

Ben Bowlin: Sure. They're not angels.

Scott Benjamin: No, definitely not.

Ben Bowlin: They're just excellent drivers.

Scott Benjamin: That's fine. That's part of the checkered past of NASCAR, is what they've said many, many times in the news, I know.

Ben Bowlin: As checkered as the flag.

Scott Benjamin: That's exactly why what's his name?

Ben Bowlin: BP, Big Papa?

Scott Benjamin: No. Neil Thompson. That's why Neil Thompson wrote this book. There's a lot more to this. I can't wait. Like I said, it was just too soon before we were going to record this that I couldn't get my hand on a book to read it fast enough, but I definitely am going to put this on my reading list for very soon, over the next vacation or something.

Ben Bowlin: We can go ahead and wrap on this one, right?

Scott Benjamin: Oh, yeah.

Ben Bowlin: Let's go ahead and wrap on this. Here's a good question. You gave me a great idea to ask our listeners. Do you have any books about vehicles or interesting stories, like the whiskey running/bootlegging we've talked about today? If so, let us know. Scott and I are both voracious readers, especially if it's related to stuff we find interesting. You can tell us about that on Facebook, on Twitter where we are CarStuffHSW. You can also find us on our blog. You can check out our website under the auto channel if you have any questions that are not answered somehow - they should have all the answers, right?

Scott Benjamin: I would think it would.

Ben Bowlin: If we've slipped up a little, and we haven't answered something, write to us directly at -

Scott Benjamin: CarStuff@HowStuffWorks.com.

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