Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Stock car racing

A stock car, in the original sense of the term, described an automobile that has not been modified from its original factory configuration. Later the term stock car came to mean any production-based automobile used in racing. This term is used to differentiate such a car from a race car, a special, custom-built car designed only for racing purposes.

Today most stock cars may superficially resemble standard American family sedans, but are in fact purpose-built racing machines built to a strict set of regulations governing the car design ensuring that the chassis, suspension, engine, etc. are architecturally identical on all vehicles. Ironically, these regulations ensure that stock car racers are in many ways technologically less sophisticated than standard cars on the road. For example, NASCAR (the largest stock car organization in the U.S.) requires carbureted engines in all of its racing series, while fuel injection is now universal in standard passenger cars.

The closest European equivalent to stock car racing is probably touring car racing, though these are raced exclusively on road courses rather than ovals.

Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found mainly in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain and Brazil. Traditionally, races are run on oval tracks measuring approximately ¼ mile to 2.66 miles (about 400 meters to 4.2 kilometres) in length, but are also raced on road courses[citation needed]. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the world's largest governing body for stock car racing, and its Sprint Cup Series (named for its sponsor, Sprint Nextel Corporation) is the de facto premier series of stock car racing.

Top level races are 200 to 600 miles (320-1000 km) in length. Average speeds in the top classes are usually within 70-80% of comparable levels of open wheel racing at the same tracks. Some stock cars may reach speeds of in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h) at tracks such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway. For safety, devices such as restrictor plates may be used at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway that limit top speeds to approximately 187 mph (301 km/h).