1. Sports
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:

http://nascar.about.com/od/nascar101/f/whatisnascar.htm

was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

What is NASCAR?

By

Question: What is NASCAR?
NASCAR Racing is one of the most popular sports in America today. This fast-growing sport reaches thousands of new fans every week. For those of you new to the sport here is a quick introduction.
Answer: First Things First

NASCAR is an acronym which stands for "National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing."

NASCAR is a sanctioning body which oversees many types of racing across the country. The three top series under the NASCAR banner are:

  1. Sprint Cup Series
  2. Nationwide Series
  3. Camping World Truck Series
When most people say NASCAR they are referring to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

NASCAR Race Cars

A modern NASCAR Sprint Cup race car has only a passing resemblance to its "strictly stock" heritage. These cars are built from the ground up as pure racing beasts.

They are based on four door American made cars. For example, the currently eligible race cars include the Ford Fusion, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Impala and the Toyota Camry.

These are not the sleek open-wheel pointy-nosed race cars that run Formula One or the IndyCar series. NASCAR Sprint Cup cars have fenders which are important because they allow side-to-side contact between cars without allowing the wheels to hook causing a big wreck.

A Sprint Cup car weighs in at 3,400 pounds and has a wheelbase of exactly 110 inches. The engine is a 358 cubic inch V8. These powerplants can generate over 750 horsepower. By comparison a showroom stock 2007 Chevy Corvette generates about 400 horsepower with its V8 engine.

NASCAR Race Tracks

Today the NASCAR Sprint Cup series features 36 races on 22 different race tracks. 34 of those races feature all left turns on ovals or D shaped race tracks. Two races are held on road courses.

The tracks vary in size from the massive 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway down to the tiny .526 mile Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR Races

The biggest Sprint Cup race of the year is the Daytona 500 which is the very first race of the year. Some other big races are the Brickyard 400 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the August race at tiny Bristol Motor Speedway, and the Memorial Day Weekend Coca-Cola 600 at Lowes Motor Speedway near Charlotte, NC.

Each race is worth the same number of points towards the Sprint Cup Championship.

NASCAR Drivers

Some of the big names in NASCAR these days are Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.

Legendary NASCAR drivers from the past include names like Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and Darrell Waltrip. AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti each ran a few races in NASCAR. In fact, they each won the Daytona 500 but they are much better known for their open wheel racing accomplishments.

Brief History

NASCAR was founded on February 21st, 1948 by Bill France Sr. Originally there were three divisions. Modifieds, Roadsters and Strictly Stock.

The first race in the "strictly stock" division was held on June 19th, 1949 at a 3/4 mile dirt track called Charlotte Speedway. Jim Roper won that very first race. This division grew to become the Sprint Cup series that we know today.

The Sum Is Greater Than The Parts

Some people don't understand the appeal of NASCAR. To truly get it I recommend two important things.

First, get to know a little bit about the drivers and pick a favorite. There is perfect match for every taste, young and hip Dale Earnhardt Jr., the quietly competent Matt Kenseth, outrageous and aggressive Robby Gordon or any of the other 40 drivers that start the race each week. Learning the personalities, relationships and rivalries adds a lot to your enjoyment of the race.

Second, and most important, attend a race in person. Attending a NASCAR race is a full five-senses experience. The bright colors, the sounds of the engines and the screaming fans, the smell of brake dust and rubber, the taste of a cold beverage on a smoking hot day spent in the sun with your friends and feeling the rumble in your seat as the cars charge past. There is nothing in the world like attending a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in person. You'll be hooked.

Related Video
Speed Racer - Christina Ricci Interview
  1. About.com
  2. Sports
  3. NASCAR Racing
  4. NASCAR 101
  5. What is NASCAR?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.