One of the banner years for automobiles, especially Chevys, was 1957. This year brought about some of the most iconic automobiles, as well as, congressional hearings that would change stock car racing forever.
Early NASCAR races were held on the beach at Daytona Beach, Florida and the last beach race was held in 1958. In the year before this final race, the United States Congress got involved in racing because of the fact that so many men and women were involved in reckless racing on public roads. Since so many manufacturers began selling cars like the Chevy 150 and the Ford Fairlane that could easily be modified into lightning-fast hot rods, street racing quickly became a problem in city neighborhoods and rural areas.
The federal government asked auto manufacturers to cease creating advertisements that contained images of racing, so the American public, especially teens, would stop street racing. The Automobile Manufacturers Association (AMA) adopted a resolution that asked manufacturers to stop promoting auto racing through their advertisements and special activities. They were also asked to stop sponsoring drivers, too.
The resolution was read and considered, but it was not followed to the letter. Many carmakers did stop sponsoring drivers and they did slow down their NASCAR-related advertising. Most car manufacturing companies did stop making racing-inspired modifications to their cars, but the resolution did not stop private companies from modifying cars.
One car that was made “underground” for NASCAR racing was the Chevy 150. When the resolution came down from the AMA, Chevy did listen, but they listened creatively. The popular car maker stopped making race cars in their production facilities, but the resolution did not stop them from sending frames of the Chevy 150 and a list of useful parts to dealerships around the country. If dealerships wanted to pursue making “Black Widow” cars for racing, they could do it themselves or through local body shops.
The term “Black Widow” was in reference to the Chevy 150s that were modified for racing. The real “Black Widow” Chevy 150s were painted black and white. They also had special wheels with six lug nuts. By encouraging car dealerships to get involved in racing, manufacturers could still be involved, but indirectly. Chevy’s ability to circumvent the system, helped their Black Widow 150s win many races on the sandy track along the Atlantic Ocean in 1957.