The Greatest and Latest in Stockcar Racing
Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found mainly in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Traditionally, races are run on oval tracks measuring approximately 0.25 to 2.66 miles (0.4 to 4.3 kilometers) in length. NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) 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 (322 to 966 km) in length. Average speeds in the top classes are usually 70–80% of comparable levels of open wheel racing at the same tracks. Some stock cars may reach speeds in excess of 200 mph (322 km/h) at tracks such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. These tracks have come to be known as "restrictor plate tracks", a name that is derived from the "restrictor plate," device that was designed to limit top speeds to approximately 192 mph (309 km/h) on such tracks.
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.
The actual degree to which the cars conform to standard model specs has changed over the years and varies from country to country. Today most American 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. These regulations ensure that stock cars are in many ways technologically similar to standard cars on the road. For example, NASCAR Sprint cup series (the highest racing series in the world) now requires fuel injection. The closest European equivalent to stock car racing is probably touring car racing. In the UK and New Zealand there is a racing formula called stock cars but the cars are markedly different from any road car you might see. In Australia there was a formula that was quite similar to NASCAR, but it has now closed down, and a form of touring cars has taken its place.
There are several classes of stock car racing, each with slightly different rules, but the key intention of cars that look like production cars, but with near-identical specifications underneath, remains true.
'True' stock car racing, which consists of only street vehicles that can be bought by general public, is sometimes now called Street Stock, Pure Stock, Showroom Stock, or U-Car racing. In 1972, SCCA started its first showroom stock racing series, with a price ceiling on the cars of $3,000. Some modern showroom stock racing allows safety modifications done on showroom stock cars.
Super Stock classes are similar to street stock, but allow for more modifications to the engine. Power output is usually in the range of 500–550 horsepower (373–410 kilowatts). Tire width is usually limited to 8 in (200 mm).
Some entry level classes are called Street Stock, and are similar to what is often called Banger Racing in England
Late Models are usually the highest class of stock cars in local racing. Rules for construction of a Late Model race car varies from region to region and even race track to race track. The most common variations (on paved tracks) include Super Late Models (SLM), Late Model Stock Car (LMSC), and Limited Late Models (LLM).A Late Model may be a custom built machine, or a heavily modified street car. Individual sanctioning bodies (like NASCAR, PASS, UARA, CRA, etc.) maintain their own Late Model rule books, and even individual racetracks can maintain their own rule books, meaning a Late Model that is legal in one series or at one track may not be legal at another without modifications. The national touring series, the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division, originated from local late model races in the east coast of the U.S. This division became the Busch Series and then the Nationwide Series.
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