It is probably fair to say that NASCAR has a few stereotypes associated with it. Unless you are from the south or in one of the racing hotspots (yes, NASCAR is nationwide – you might not have even known that!) you may have a particular view of NASCAR.
But, for all its detractors, NASCAR is still hugely popular. It is a global motorsports company that sanctions hundreds of races each year and continues to be one of the biggest in the world. If you are someone that knows little about NASCAR, here are five facts that you may well find surprising.
Strict Rules for Drivers
You may be used to watching motorsports where the cars or bikes are all the same. That makes sense, right? It wouldn’t be fair for a driver to have the advantage of driving a completely different, lighter – and faster – car. Well, NASCAR takes their parity levels very seriously indeed.
All drivers are required to weigh exactly 200 pounds. Obviously, it is unlikely that every driver will meet the required level. So weights are added or taken away to ensure all drivers adhere to the rules. Even the helmet is included in the driver’s weight, so it really is just the talent that separates those behind the wheel.
Beach Boys at Heart
If you have one picture of NASCAR in your mind it will be of cars racing around a huge concrete bowl. It is something that the fans love about the sport, watching their favorites for hours on end until a winner is decided.
But NASCAR wasn’t always raced on a hard surface. When Bill France Sr. first staged a NASCAR race back in 1948 it was the sands of Daytona Beach that provided a track that was marked out with cones. Those days are long gone now, but the beach origins are still celebrated to this day.
NASCAR drivers need to prepare for every single race. With the pressure put on the body, this is not a sport for the faint-hearted. The strain on the drivers’ bodies is intense – the accelerating forces mean 2Gs, braking can put 5Gs on the body, and cornering can mean 6Gs of pressure.
But it is not just the drivers that experience such profound pressure. With the cars able to reach speeds of up to 200 mph, the downward force on the cars could actually help them drive upside down. Only hi-tech aerodynamics and car body shape keep the drivers the right way up.
We live in an age where people are far more aware of the environmental impact of cars and motorsports. There will always be some criticism of NASCAR in this regard – but it is not as though the organization is not doing what it can to provide a more sustainable spectacle.
There are numerous green initiatives from NASCAR, including using alternative fuels and recycling oils and tires. There are also offsetting programs that grow trees and promote other ways of re-greening in locations affected by the racing. An extensive educational program also looks to inform younger fans.
The Real King
The most successful NASCAR driver of all time is Richard Petty. Nicknamed “The King”, Petty won exactly 200 races in a career that spanned 35 years. That record is unlikely to be beaten any time soon either, as the next person on the honor list is David Pearson with 105 total victories.
Petty also holds the record for NASCAR Cup Series Drivers’ Championship titles jointly with Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson. All three managed seven during their long and distinguished careers. There is now a Richard Petty museum in his hometown in North Carolina and he remains a huge name in one of the most exhilarating sports on the planet.