Here's everything you need to know before going to your first NASCAR race.
As far as racing organizations in the USA go, NASCAR is the largest. NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, was started in 1948 to standardize the form of racing and help develop the rules and regulations that would see this become a professional sport - and today, NASCAR is one of the most beloved forms of auto racing in the States. If you're looking to learn the ins and outs of NASCAR before the race season begins, from what exactly NASCAR is, its origins, and the rules of stock car racing to the names of the most iconic drivers, we'll help you become an expert!
NASCAR is the abbreviation for the racing association responsible for organized stock racing in the USA, but the term NASCAR is also used as a direct reference to the actual support of stock car racing. Stock car racing requires the use of production cars that are customized and modified for the purpose of racing. Originally, stock cars were the mainstream vehicles you would even find on the highway or city streets, but over the years the rules have allowed various degrees of modification - you will typically find family sedans that have been purposefully developed for racing at these events.
The race itself takes place on an oval paved track over the course of many laps. NASCAR races include several different racing series, a multitude of race phases, and even championships.
Before NASCAR officially became a professional competition or even an organized sport, informal racing resulted from a bunch of prohibition-time bootleggers that would get together and race the modified cars they used to escape police and federal agents, just to show off their speed. NASCAR is, to an extent, rooted in bootlegging, but it continued because of the passion so many of the participants had for driving really, really fast.
One of these individuals, a mechanic named William France, Sr. got involved in the racing scene in the late 30s and was running and promoting races, as well as entering them. By 1948, he officially formed the Association to formalize the sport. Erwin Baker was the first Commissioner of NASCAR, and was also a racer himself, nicknamed "Cannonball". The Cannonball Run transcontinental race is named in his honor.
Additional to these basic rules in NASCAR, there are also rule books for each racing series which are exclusively available to members of the Association and aren't available to the public. There are some common rules that are widely known, including, but not limited to:
NASCAR has a complicated point system that drivers and fans need to know, and there are many rules in NASCAR that the drivers have to understand and follow. The various point systems and rules vary across each race series. Many of the series include race stages and playoffs in which the top drivers compete for a champion title.
Throughout every NASCAR race, there is a flagman, a NASCAR official whose job it is to wave certain different colored flags to communicate certain instructions to the drivers. Here are some of these, which are not the same as flags used in other auto racing events:
Some of the most well-known NASCAR racing series include:
There are several NASCAR drivers that stand out from all the rest for their significance to the sport and for their achievements. Here are some of the most prominent figures to remember:
You may be wondering which cars are used in NASCAR and if they are truly kept strictly stock. The rules vary between races, for example, there should be three stock parts on the car to compete in the Cup Series. Three main automakers are known to compete in NASCAR: Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet.
While these cars still resemble their street-oriented foundation, NASCAR-tweaked vehicles generally have bigger wheels and a more muscular aesthetic. Current cars that feature in NASCAR Cup are:
The average NASCAR car can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in around just 3 to 3.5 seconds and can accelerate onward up until a top speed of over 200 mph. Various rules and regulations must be adhered to for power outputs, depending on which Series you are entering.
There are currently 26 different tracks used for the NASCAR Cup Series, with the Charlotte Roval and Charlotte Motor Speedway Oval counting as two separate tracks. Famous tracks include the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis.
There are 17 full-time teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but every race since 1998 has involved 43 drivers in total.
The salaries of NASCAR drivers vary depending on their status - amateur or professional - and on winning; the winner obviously gets the big payout. Many drivers also earn a lot of their income from sponsorship and endorsement deals offered or sourced from certain brands. These drivers will typically feature the logo of the brand that has sponsored or endorsed them on their vehicle in true NASCAR style.