The NASCAR Quick and Easy New Fan and History Guide
By Kent Whitaker
Are you a new NASCAR fan and unsure about the history of the racing series or what the rules are? If so – welcome to the NASCAR Quick and Easy Fan Guide! This five-minute read of questions and answers should fill in the gaps for new fans. Hopefully you’ll walk away with a better understanding of the premier motorsports sanctioning series in the United states as well as other countries.
What Does NASCAR Stand for and who started it?
NASCAR stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. It was founded in 1948 by Bill France Senior. The main goal was to standardize and set rules for the growing sport of stock car racing. France moved to Daytona Florida during the depression and quickly became involved with land speed records and racing taking place on the sands of Daytona Beach. France quickly picked up on the growing wave of circle track racers and the fact that promoters would often disappear once a race started leaving many drivers unpaid. The new organization, NASCAR, would help eliminate these issues and help grow the sport.
Are the Cars Really Stock Cars from a Dealer?
They used to be! Drivers, back in the day, often drove their cars to the track, ran the race, and drove home! Today the cars are built per the rules set by NASCAR. Today’s cars are heavily engineered using specialized chassis, fitted seats, restraints for head, neck, and body. The even have fire suppression systems, roof and body flaps to deter them from becoming airborne, and reinforced driver protection. Believe it or not… they do not have speedometers!
Why have the Cars and Trucks been Designed Like that instead of Stock?
The main reason for changes in the cars over the years has been to improve competition and driver safety. The driver safety issue really became a focus after the passing of Dale Earnhardt Senior in 2001 during the Daytona 500. The competition changes were done to ensure that cars were not showing up at the track with parts, engines, and more that were not allowed. You can’t have a good race if everyone shows up with different sized engines.
How long are the Races? Are they Timed?
Races in NASCAR are set by the number of miles. Take as an example the Daytona 500 – which stands for 500 miles. There are also 400 and 300 mile races in the top level of NASCAR known as the “Cup” series. Race lengths are shorter and vary in the lower levels of NASCAR sanctioned racing.
That being said – the races are not timed. But they are currently broken into three stages as of the 2017 season. Prior to 2017 the races started with the green flag and ended with the checkered flag. Points were awarded from best finisher to last place.
The new system awards points to the top ten drivers at the end of the first two segments. Then, at the end of the race, points are once again awarded for first place to last. The reason for this was that drivers that dominated a race all day but perhaps blew an engine or were involved in a wreck not of their doing ended up having a bad “points” day. This is a way to give drivers in this situation a chance to earn points at the end of the first two stages.
Also, many fans felt that drivers were not giving it their all during long races which led to boring events. Now drivers have the added motivation to race for top-ten spots during the first two segments as well as racing for the win. A good example of the outcome of this is Kevin Harvick who has not won a race but has been up front consistently and earning bonus points. He’s currently the Cup Series Points Leader following Daytona and Atlanta.
All of that being said – a race can be shortened due to weather. When a race hit’s the halfway mark it’s ruled as NASCAR as being an official race. Meaning, if bad weather sets in they can call the race as finished or choose to postpone until the next day.
Is NASCAR only in the United States?
No, NASCAR sanctions several series, in stock-car racing as well as other types, in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. Here’s the breakdown starting with the top-three tiers of the national touring series known as NASCAR.
The Big Three! There are three series that travel the whole country and often share race weekend at the same tracks. Drivers in the “CUP” series often drop down into the other series to run races but are limited to the number they can compete in. Also, even though the cars in
USA: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (AKA – NASCAR) Top drivers in the sport.
USA: The Xfinity Series – the second tier with up and coming drivers.
USA: The Camping World Truck Series. Younger drivers – cutting their teeth on a National level.
Regional Series: NASCAR sanctions events in several countries as well as multiple feeder series in the United States.
CANADA – NASCAR Pinty’s Series – Formally known as CASCAR.
MEXICO – NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series
MEXICO – NASCAR Mexico T4 Series – mini stock.
EUROPE – NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
USA – Whelen All-American Series – Four divisions, local and regional drivers and tracks.
USA – Whelen Modified Tour – Open wheel racing in Northern and Southern divisions.
USA – K&N Pro Series – East and West Divisions.
Global – NASCAR iRacing.com Series
USA & CANADA – NASCAR has a long running business relationship with IMSA.
How many races and drivers are there in NASCAR?
This is easy and complicated. The easy part is this. There are 36 races in the Cup Series. The hard part is how many drivers are there in NASCAR. There are literally thousands of drivers in NASCAR counting all series and countries.
To be a NASCAR driver, as in other series such as ARCA and INDYCAR, drivers are required to apply for a license if they are planning one running a single race or a full season. Age limits are often in place and drivers must submit to a medical evaluation. A driver can lose, or have their license suspended, due to reasons such intolerable actions on or off the track, medical, and drug use.
A side not to this is the fact that NASCAR sanctions races – they do not own any teams or hire drivers for teams. All of the teams and drivers in the sport are considered independent contractors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kent Whitaker, often called ‘the Deck Chef,’ is a sportswriter, culinary writer, and cookbook author with fourteen titles. He covers NASCAR, racing in general, Football, barbecue, grilling, and tailgating. You can visit him on www.thedeckchef.com .”