NASCAR for Beginners
NASCAR is the fastest growing sport in the country. There is no doubt that you have heard this statement a
hundred times already.
What is it about NASCAR that draws millions of fans to racetracks and television sets every race day? Some say it is
the roar of the crowds and the engines and some say it is the camaraderie that all NASCAR fans feel even when they are
arguing with other fans about why there favorite driver is the greatest ever.
Every NASCAR fan has their reasons, but whatever the reasons are, learning the basics of NASCAR will help you
not only understand the sport of racing but may also give you some insight as to why so many love the sport of
A Little History
While NASCAR officially started in 1949 its roots are burned like rubber deep into the dirt tracks near Washington,
DC where NASCAR founder Bill France Sr, owned a garage and raced the local circuit. After moving to Daytona Beach
in 1934 after his car broke down while trying to drive to Miami, forcing a stay.
Known for the land speed record attempts on Daytona Beach, the city held its first beach and road race
in 1936. After coming in fifth and racing for several years, Bill France Sr. was asked to be a promoter
for the races but was not exactly keen on the idea. But after attempts to find someone else for the job,
Bill accepted the position.
After several years working in the circuit, Bill France Sr got tired of seeing unscrupulous promoters
run off with the promised paydays and began to feel that if racing had a common set of rules and
proper backing it would improve the quality of life for its drivers. By December of 1947 Bill had
found a group of driver, promoters and officials and after a the final meeting on February 21, 1948,
NASCAR held the first official race on June 19, 1949 at the Charlotte Speedway in Charlotte, NC.
Since those early years the sport of racing has come a long way, with the cars becoming faster and
leaner and both drivers and fans more aggressive. But the history of NASCAR can still be felt at every
race with the roar of the engine and the crowd.
The Points System
The NASCAR Points System seems confusing when first encountered but is actually quite simple. Points are awarded to
drivers based on the Final Position in the race as well as the number of laps a driver led during the race. For the
Final Position, the first place driver is awarded 185 points with the second place driver receiving 15 less points at
170. Awarded points drops 5 points for each position until the 6th place where the driver is awarded 150 points. For
the 7th through the 11th position, points then drop by four with 11th place receiving 130 points. From that point on,
earned points drop by three for every position. For number of laps led, drivers can receive up to 10 bonus points, 5
for leading at least one lap and 5 for leading the most laps during the race.
Unlike other racing series, NASCAR numbers are not assigned based the points position from the previous year. This
actually allows NASCAR to allow diver recognition based on number alone and in doing so allows them to trademark
driver memorabilia, such as
Driver numbers can range from 0 to 99. However, if two teams wish to use the same double digit number a three digit number
may be enacted, as in Marcis #71 and LePage #171.
Before every race NASCAR holds a mandatory driver meeting, which is held 2 hours before the race begins.
If a driver fails to attend the meeting, or if the racing team requires any type of change to their machine,
they will be required to start in the last position. Five minutes after the National Anthem the grand marshal
will declare "Gentlemen start your engines." Drivers will be given a minimum of three warm up laps and the
official ace will begin with a rolling start.
Several flags are used during the course of the race to indicate certain events.
Green Flag - Indicates the race has begun or has been restarted.
Yellow Flag - Yellow is the caution flag and indicates that all
cars must slow down and follow the assigned pace car.
Red Flag - The race has been stopped. Reasons for race stoppage can include
track repair, inclement weather or a huge accident that has made racing dangerous.
Black Flag - Driver penalized. Black flags can be given for infractions by both
the drive and their pit crew.
Checkered Flag - One of the most popular racing symbols, the checkered
flag indicates that the race or qualifying laps are over.