My love and passion for auto racing have only increased throughout my adult life. From Formula One to NASCAR, it’s my opinion that racing is the most exciting sport. Getting behind the wheel and putting the pedal to the metal probably means something different to every driver. What fascinates me is the raw power of a racing engine, the aerodynamics of design, and the thrill of winning.
You may not be aware that there are different kinds of auto races. Driver skill sets, car types, road and track types, and even the purpose of racing can differ (sometimes endurance and reliability is as important as speed). Here are four major types of professional and amateur car races:
Formula One (F1)
A personal favorite of mine, F1 cars are single-seat, open-wheeled racers constructed almost entirely from carbon fiber composites. Ferrari, Renault, and Mercedes-Benz produce some of the best F1 racing cars in the world. Formula One is the most expensive and prestigious form of auto racing, with most teams having an annual budget running into hundreds of millions of dollars. Races take place in Europe, and all over the world.
IndyCars are also constructed of carbon fiber, single-seat, open-wheel racers but have much lower budgets than Formula One because teams are mandated to use specific manufacturers for their chassis and engine. There are 18 IndyCar races around the U.S. and Canada on a mixture of road courses. Known as the fastest form of racing in the United States, the Indy 500 is an American institution and often referred to as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Sports Car Racing
Unlike Formula One or IndyCar racing, sports cars are two-seater vehicles with enclosed wheels. These cars can either be purpose-built (prototype) or production-derived models such as the grand tourers (GT). Sports car racing takes place all over the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. As of 2020, the leading championship series is now known as the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. The FIA GT1 World Championship was the main series for GT car racing until 2009.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
One of the most popular forms of auto racing in the United States is NASCAR. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars are unique because the body styles are based on those currently available for retail sale in the US. They are front-engine rear-wheel-drive stock cars that have a tubular spaceframe chassis and a roll cage. When racing on superspeedways like Daytona, Talladega, and Charlotte, these impressive Cup Cars can reach 200 mph. As America’s number one spectator sport, NASCAR is one of the most thrilling auto racing types.