Racing is one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world today. Nothing can quite match the unique thrill that is brought by the cooperation of man and machine for a common goal. However, not all racing is the same and each different type of racing has its own unique draws for the spectator. Here is a quick explanation of the basic types of automobile racing and their unique attributes.
Drag Racing – Drag racing is one of the most basic forms of racing sport. In a drag race, drivers attempt to accelerate as fast as possible in order to beat their opponent. Generally drag races are held on a straight track measuring either 1/8th or 1/4th mile. The winner is decided based on who makes it from one end of the track to the other in the least amount of time. NHRA is the main regulatory body for drag racing which includes such divisions as Superstreet, Superstock, Funny Car and Top Fuel.
Closed Wheel Circuit Racing – Closed wheel circuit racing includes a variety of different variations including NASCAR, GT (Grand Touring) Racing, and sports car racing. They are called “closed wheel” cars because the vehicle’s wheels and structures are enclosed in some type of body or fairing. Generally closed wheel race cars are based at least in part on a production vehicle. These races generally occur on a circuit track in one of two setups-–oval track or road track. GT Racing generally uses some variation of a road track while NASCAR generally uses an oval track. However there are exceptions, most notably the NASCAR Sprint Cup. When racing on an oval track, NASCAR vehicles reach speeds in excess of 200mph.
Open Wheel Circuit Racing – Open wheel racing includes the INDY and KART series. They are called open wheel cars because the wheels are located outside the body of the vehicle. Open wheel cars are considered to be among the most technologically advanced vehicles in racing. They are not generally based on production vehicles. They are custom designed and built. Open wheel racing is generally held on a circuit track (usually road, but occasionally oval).
Rally Racing – Rally racing is a form of racing involving specially modified road cars that compete on a prepared road course that is usually comprised of pavement, gravel, or a combination of the two surfaces. The main regulating body for rally racing is the WRC (World Rally Championship). Some rally races are held on circuit courses, whereas others are point-to-point races.
Off-Road Racing – There are a variety of types of off-road racing including Trophy Truck, Pro Truck, Buggy, and Hill Climb; each with their own unique rules. Some off-road racing vehicles are based on production cars and trucks (such as Pro Truck), while others (such as buggies) are often custom designed and built. Major off-road races are generally set up as point to point events. One notable example is the Baja 1000. Other events, such as hill climb, have their own unique rules and courses tailor made to their needs.