Today's NASCAR is a spectacle of sponsorship, high-speeds, crashes, and death-defying adrenaline junkie drivers. Then there are the fanatic fans - by the tens of millions who flock to massive race-tracks to watch their favorite drivers slide in and out of traffic at speeds over 200 mph. By aside from the fanfare and sponsor-injected color, you may not have known that the history of NASCAR is one of the most colorful histories in all of the sports, and it all began with moonshiners during the prohibition.
That's right, moonshiner runners were a rare breed whose livelihoods depended on souping up their vehicles to outwit, but more importantly, outspeed the Feds who were coming for them. Of course, being competitive in nature, these runners began racing each other for bragging rights, which by the '40s morphed into regulated races. By the late '40s, the first official NASCAR race occurred. But, as a true fan of NASCAR, you already knew all that, didn't you?
From history to big sponsorship and business, NASCAR has become one of the most popular sports on the planet with values of individual teams reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars. So, let's put on your favorite NASCAR jersey, pump down an energy drink and test your knowledge of NASCAR!
Amazingly, American corporations spent about $2.9 billion on sponsorship in 2006, with the lion's share of this cash going to NASCAR. More Fortune 500 companies are affiliated with NASCAR than with any other sport.
NASCAR has offices in eight locations, including Los Angeles, New York and Mexico City, where it sanctions 1500 races at more than 100 tracks in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, but it is based in Daytona Beach, Fla., the site of its most famous race, the Daytona 500.
Craftsman Truck Series trucks weigh about 400 pounds less than their factory model counterparts. They also have four times the horsepower and sit closer to the ground than a standard pickup.
The engines in cars that race in the Nextel Cup Series generate about 800 horsepower, more than engines in Busch Series cars, which generate about 660 horsepower.
NASCAR tires are wider than normal tires and don't have any treads. NASCAR's exclusive tire supplier, Goodyear, prepares tires for racing teams prior to a race. Teams often use nine to 14 sets of tires during a race.
The owner of a racing team is similar to a corporation president. He or she has the final say and is in charge of securing a sponsor to provide funding for building and racing a championship-caliber car.
Because it gets so hot in a car during a race, NASCAR drivers must have excellent endurance. They are known to sweat out 3 to 4 pounds of water during a race.
Racing teams devote Tuesdays and Wednesdays to testing their cars at the track where a race will be held the following Sunday. Racing teams experiment with their cars during these two days to try and find the right formula for success.
When the green flag waves during a race, it means the race has started. The pace car that the 43 cars have followed for a lap or two pulls over to the side, and the race begins. NASCAR races have a "flying start," meaning the cars begin the race in motion.
A spotter is a member of a racing team who watches the race from the press box, constantly communicating with the driver to let him know about opportunities and discuss strategy. The spotter serves as the eyes for the large portion of the track that the driver cannot see.