I think someone put a neat analogy out there for why some people are big fans of NASCAR. Have you ever been stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic, where nothing moves for minutes or even hours? Now, imagine being “stuck” in that situation while going at 70 mph. Things start becoming scary, right? Imagine that happening at speeds exceeding 200 mph—that’s called NASCAR racing.
There are other factors that make NASCAR terrifying as well. There are no side mirrors, so not only are you going bumper to bumper at a high speed, but you can’t even see the guys on your left or right. You even can’t turn your head sideways to take a glance, because your head is tethered for your own safety. You have a rear-view mirror, but that doesn’t cover your sides.
What do the drivers do, then? They depend on spotters, who are standing on a tower and yelling out pertinent information into an earpiece. The drivers often depend on the words of the spotters to overtake other drivers. It’s surreal.
With high technology, awesome looking cars and lots of speed, NASCAR is one of the most popular sports on the planet. Let's dive in and take a look at 20 facts that every NASCAR fan should be aware of.
20 Clint Bowyer Flipped Twice And Still Won
That’s a pretty neat fact. The first one happened in 2007 and the second one in 2014. The incident in 2007 resulted in the car skidding on the grass in addition to the engine catching on fire. He states he had accumulated about 30-40 pounds of dirt. He said it was very strange to experience all that dirt skidding around his car as the roof slid through the grass.
The car still made it to the finish line! In 2014, during his last lap at Daytona, he once again experienced a car flip. This time, his car flipped but landed on it's wheels and kept right on going. These replays are both awesome to watch.
19 NASCAR Racing Is Expensive
To say that NASCAR is expensive is an understatement. According to Jacksonville.com, the cost of doing business within NASCAR runs at about $400,000 a week, even for the most successful teams. That’s an insane amount of money. While everything costs money, two of the biggest culprits are the engine and driver.
A new engine usually costs roughly $100,000. Some teams can afford to change engines frequently, while others often have to make do with the same one for several races.
Obviously, the drivers also need to be paid. Their salaries often fly into six figure territory, and that's not even including the hotels, meals, transport costs and uniforms which are usually all covered by the team.
18 Jimmie Johnson Has Never Flipped Over
Jimmie Johnson is unique. He has made appearances in television show and films like Herbie: Fully Loaded. He has also appeared on the covers of several high profile magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Men’s Fitness and Success. He also made a cameo in The Avett Brothers' music video "Ain't no Man."
He’s a very successful NASCAR driver, having been seven-time champion, yet he often doesn't get the recognition he deserves. A major reason for that might be that he has never flipped over in a race. Many fans believe that that’s why he’s ranked below the likes of Petty and Earnhardt Sr. Indeed, according to Darrell Waltrip, all the greats have flipped over at Daytona.
17 The Dehydration Is Real
People who want to lose weight without actually eating healthy and going to the gym should consider becoming NASCAR drivers, as they lose a lot of weight during races. Of course, if you lack the discipline to lose weight the normal way, you probably won't be able to just wake up one day and become a successful race car driver.
Seriously though, these drivers lose a lot of weight without moving that much at all. Losing 10-15 pounds during a race is not uncommon at all. Landon Cassill shared the results of one particular race through his Instagram where he showed that he lost a total of 15 pounds, and it was only that low because of the sheer amount of liquid he consumed during the race.
16 The Path To NASCAR Is Unlike Any Other Sport
Something that NASCAR doesn't share with other sports is school teams. There are no high school or university race car teams. That applies to other sports like baseball or football, where athletes generally experience a fixed path to success.
Prospective NASCAR drivers have to hone their skills through more varied methods, like taking part in local events such as go-kart races. In fact, go-karting is one of the most common ways for racing drivers to begin their careers. Generally, these races are organized by age group to keep things fair.
Additionally, unlike other sports, where age starts to get in the way very early on, NASCAR drivers can are often able to continue competing until they are well into their 40s and even their 50s.
15 Fans Use A Scanner To Tune In
This is what some of the fans do when they go watch the race live. Watching a race live has its own perks. Sadly, in our media driven world, people who attend live events quickly can quickly become bored, as they are not used to the lack of advertisements, onscreen statistics and announcers.
Plus, NASCAR tracks are so big that there is never any one spot where you can see the entire race. That’s why people rent or buy these scanners, as they allow them to keep track of the action fairly easily. They also pick up what the drivers and crews are saying to each other. If the scanner isn't your speed, there's always the radio.
14 There's A Strong Community Vibe
Unlike some other sports, NASCAR drivers are very friendly, or at least they appear to be when they're in front of cameras. Each driver is media trained and knows how to behave in public and in front of a camera. It’s like they went to some sort of extraordinary “NASCAR School of Public Relations.”
Maybe it has to do with the nature of the game—it’s a tight-knit community, as drivers, car manufacturers, crew, etc. all have to be synchronous—but the matter of fact is, these drivers always seem friendly about their crew, cars and fans. It’s a candid vibe that you get from watching NASCAR races, because it really does come from how these drivers are cultivated.
13 More Sponsorship Deals Than NFL
If you thought that the NFL had the highest number of sponsorship deals in the sports world, then you thought wrong. NASCAR receives roughly 3 billion dollars a year in sponsorship, or roughly twice the amount the NFL brings in on a yearly basis. Go big or go home, as they say.
NASCAR is one of the largest business corporations in the US and comes out ahead of the NFL as the largest sports entity in the world. A lot of that has to do with its culture.
For instance, not many other sports exist where the participants thank the sponsors before answering questions. It’s small gestures like this that make a huge impact on how the brand is perceived by the public.
12 The Elevated Heart Rate Is Real
NASCAR drivers have it intense inside the car. You can tell this just by watching one of their events. Imagine the thrill of having those cars zoom past you, all while you yourself are driving at breakneck speeds.
That’s exactly what happens for NASCAR drivers. Their hearts beat 120-150 times per minute while they're racing (on average) and that keeps happening for 3-4 hours.
Just to give you some idea of how crazy that actually is, your average resting heart beat is 80 beats per minute. The amount of work their heart does is equivalent to that of a serious marathon runner, so it’s no surprise that they lose so much weight during races.
11 The G-Force Is Real
The force of gravity - or g-force - is a phenomenon that we all experience every day. Gravity is pulling you down wherever you are, wherever you go. The only reason you don't get dragged to the center of the Earth is that solid matter prevents that from happening.
That’s not the case in NASCAR races. The tracks are banked and the speeds are high. Drivers are continuously turning left while having to contend with gravity. Guess what? They don’t have a support like a chair to their left for their necks and heads, so they have to physically fight against that constant force. And because of the high speed, the g-force they experiences is two to three times that which we experience while standing still
10 HANS Device Developed After Unfortunate Circumstances
After the fatal accident of racing driver Dale Earnhardt, the safety of NASCAR was highly scrutinized. One of the most prominent things that developed out of that is what’s called the HANS device. It’s essentially a device that keeps your head and neck tethered to the seat.
When a moving car stops suddenly (like when it crashes) anything inside the car that's not being held down will continue to movie. Yes, we're explaining to you how physics works. Deal with it.
The HANS device protects the neck and skull of the driver from such an eventuality, meaning that even if a crash at high speeds were to occur, the driver should remain safe, sound, and virtually immobile.
9 The Fans Are OK
Fan loss of life is not that infrequent or unheard of in other sports. Take the example of baseball, where something as simple as trying to catch a stray ball can turn extremely painful very quickly. Remember that guy who fell 20 feet while trying to catch a ball thrown by Josh Hamilton? It was a sad story. Then there was that 13-year-old who was struck by the puck at a hockey game. The list goes on.
There have even been accidents involving fans during the races in NASCAR, but luckily, no spectator has ever lost their life. (There was a fan who was taken from us in 2012 after he was struck by lightning, but the odds of that happening again are the same as the odds of, well, getting struck by lightning.)
8 They're Pretty Dirty When The Race Is Over
This one might be a shocker for those who don’t know much about the sport, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Drivers are in their cars for several hours, and it’s not like any other team-based sports where there are multiple opportunities to go to the bathroom throughout the game. Here, you're stuck driving at a very fast speed until the race is over.
Keep in mind, these drivers drink copious amounts of water to keep themselves hydrated. They usually just sweat it out, but sometimes nature calls when you least expect it. One race car driver was asked directly how many times he's had to pee in his car, to which he responded “once or twice A YEAR. When ya gotta go ya go.”
7 No. 88 Is Special
Cars sporting the number 88 have a special place in NASCAR history. Pepper Cunningham started with the number 88 in 1949, and while he finished 33rd in that race, the number would still go on to great things.
Specifically, it became the favorite number of Dale Earnhardt Jr. While he drove other numbers too, he was such a big fan of 88 that he added the second eight when he moved to Hendrick Motorsports to drive their number 8 in 2008. (Are you getting tired of the number 8 yet?)
Well, number 88 car was flipped by Dale Jarrett in 1999, Earnhardt Jr. in NNS in 2010 and Matt Crafton in 2017. If other drivers are looking to drive this extremely significant (and apparently dangerous) number, they'd better get in line.
6 SAFER Barriers Saved Michael McDowell
The so-called SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier has saved many lives, but Michael McDowell’s one of the first. He was doing qualifying laps and somehow lost control. The vehicle slammed into the SAFER barrier at speeds exceeding 160 mph. Had it been a regular barrier, the car would have simply gone through the barrier and loss of life would be inevitable, as the car and the driver would have absorbed all the impact.
With the SAFER barrier, the force of the impact was significantly absorbed by the sheer amount of foam present in this simple engineering marvel. His car barrel-rolled eight times before halting. Yet, he walked away with just a limp and minor injuries.
5 Christopher Bell Has Gone Airborne At Every Daytona
Unlike Jimmie Johnson, Bell has never not gone airborne at a Daytona race. He’s a rising star of NASCAR, and was the 2017 Truck Champion. In 2016, he rolled over 10 times before coming to a stop, yet walked away with only bruises.
This is what he had to say about the crash: “Nobody wants to test the safety gear that they are wearing but thankfully everything I had last night worked perfectly. The Butler seat, Arai Helmet and KBM Chassis did exactly what they were made to do and I walked away with only bruises. I can’t thank NASCAR enough and all the racers before me who have made this sport as safe as it is! I also want to thank the racing community and fans for the overwhelming support I have received, it means the world to me!”
4 You Don’t Need A Driver’s License To Race
This one is odd, but it’s true. You don’t need to have a normal driver's license to compete in a NASCAR event! Of course, not everyone can take advantage of that rule. They don't let just anyone stroll onto the track, hop inside a race car, and start driving. You need your own car, a team, and a little experience and a lot of cash wouldn't hurt.
Most NASCAR drivers have regular licenses anyway. However, it’s interesting to note that these people could have their licenses suspended or revoked for doing something illegal on public roads, yet still race the next day as if nothing happened!
3 There Was Almost A Trump Track
The number of things Trump has almost done is quite high, but they aren't all as noteworthy as this one. Back in the late ‘90s, Trump and the president of NASCAR decided to build a track in the New York metropolitan area, which was to cost around $400 million and be able to seat 300,000 fans.
The track was going to be named the Trump Super Speedway. Trump was trying to take advantage of the rising popularity of the sport at that time.
The plan never unfolded as it was supposed to. According to the New York Times, one possible reason was that local residents were resistant to such an endeavor because of the associated noise and traffic
2 More Safety Correlates With More Reckless Behavior
We've already spoken about increased NASCAR safety measures like the HANS device and the SAFER barrier. According to deadspin.com, measures like these have increased the overall safety of the sport by a solid 10%.
However, this rise in safety has also apparently lead to an increase in reckless behavior from the competitors by a whopping 4%.
While the findings may be new, the general phenomenon isn’t. Back in 1975, Dr. Peltzman hypothesized that people tend to do more dangerous things when they perceive increased safety. Obviously, we're not saying that NASCAR should stop implementing new safety measures. Still, many of these drivers would do well to remember that even with these measures in place, their safety isn't always guaranteed.
1 A Monkey Once Competed
While it started as a publicity stunt, there was a superstitious belief shared by Tim Flock and his team that the monkey would give Flock an advantage.
Monkey “Jacko Flocko” had his own helmet, goggles, racing suit and seat. It helped distract some of the other drivers, which gave Flock time to gain distance.
For some reason, NASCAR officials didn’t mind the fact that a monkey was riding along in a high speed race. Jacko Flocko took part in not one, not two, but eight races! Of course, this could only last for so long. The monkey started going berserk at one point and cost Flock a second place and $600. Jacko Flocko took a well deserved retirement from racing after this.
Sources: beyondtheflag.com, deadspin.com, jacksonvill.com, timflock.com