Understanding NASCAR: A Guide for Non-Americans

NASCAR History and Guide for Non-Americans

NASCAR is the most popular type of auto racing in the United States, far outpacing Formula 1, rally racing, and other styles. However, it’s not all that well understood by people outside the Deep South, and especially not by those outside the country. So, if you’ve ever wondered what was so exciting about driving a circular track and turning right, here’s a quick introduction.

It Speaks to History and Heritage

NASCAR got its start in a unique way. Back during Prohibition, bootleggers regularly distilled, bottled, and delivered illegal alcohol. The authorities were keen to put a stop to this, and would give chase when they spotted a bootlegger at work. To help them avoid the long arm of the law, the bootleggers modified their engines and other systems. They would even race one another to see who was fastest. These bootleggers are the direct ancestors of today’s NASCAR racers.

The Cars Are Virtually the Same

Once upon a time, the cars driven in NASCAR were as different from one another as the drivers were. Today, that’s not really the case. Each car has a unique shell/chassis that sits over it, but underneath, it’s very similar to every other car on the track.

Production Cars Need Not Apply

In the past, NASCAR drivers drove actual production vehicles that had been improved and upgraded. Today, while the cars might be called by the name of production vehicles, they’re not the same.

NASCAR Is Not a Single Thing

There’s an impression that NASCAR is a single series of races. It’s not. In fact, there are three separate series involved. These are the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and the NASCAR World Truck Series.

The most prestigious of these is the Sprint Cup Series, which is where you will find the big-name drivers like Earnhardt, Gordon, and Johnson.

The Nationwide Series is sort of like the minor leagues, where drivers hone their skills before moving up to the major leagues with the Sprint Cup.

The Truck Series shares similarities with the Nationwide Series in that drivers here hope to move up to the big leagues at some point, although many make names for themselves right there.


NASCAR races vary in duration, but they are almost all endurance-related, rather than being based on who has the fastest car. Each track has its own personality and quirks, as well as its diehard fans. Some of the top racetracks in the industry include Daytona, Darlington, Talladega, Martinsville, and Bristol. However, there are numerous others that are just as popular and challenging.

Planning to Attend a Race

If you’re planning to attend a NASCAR race for the first time, you’ll want to make sure to pack the right items. Binoculars will come in hand, particularly if you’re sitting farther up in the stands. You’ll also want a raincoat in case of a shower. Earplugs are also a wise purchase, as the races are very loud. Most of all, be prepared to have fun no matter who wins. Whatever race you attend, it’ll be a great experience.





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