NASCAR can trace its history directly to moonshiners who needed fast cars to evade police. In rural Wilkes County, N.C., not far from the disused North Wilkesboro Speedway a former champion proves the sport is still true to its roots.
Dean Combs, 57, was charged recently with making non-tax paid liquor, as well as possessing ingredients to manufacture and possessing equipment to manufacture non-tax paid liquor. Yup, Combs was making moonshine.
Combs was a five-time champion of NASCAR’s Goody's Dash Series, piling up 60 wins in the compact car series. In the early 1980s, he appeared in 24 races in the top level NASCAR series, now known as the Sprint Cup. Ironically, Combs had once served as a crew chief for car owner Junior Johnson, a NASCAR great who was once jailed for bootleg whiskey making and now has a legal moonshine on the market.
Based on some of the photos that have appeared in newspapers like the Winston-Salem Journal and reports from the North Carolina Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement and the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office, Combs was running a pretty elaborate still. The stainless steel equipment included a primary and secondary condenser and used 180 feet of copper tubing. Authorities claim the operation could make 300 gallons of corn whiskey per run. They found 200 gallons of moonshine, 3,000 pounds of sugar and about 1,150 gallons of corn mash be prepared and police believe another batch had recently been finished.
Law enforcement officers say Combs helped them destroy the still and Combs is quoted in local media as saying the agents complimented the product. "They even bragged on it, said they’d never seen spring water that clear,“ he said.