There’s something about NASCAR or even any other nerve-wracking, nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat, and stroke-inducing car race just about anywhere. (And in any format, no doubt.) The history of NASCAR is interesting, though, and not as sterling as we may think it to be. It may have born out of good racing intention but the seeds of the race were laid way back during the time of Prohibition, when strict behavioral standards were in place for the entire country.
Well, no one really followed the no-drinking rule much. There was always moonshine that many families made in their own backyard, or when the police got a little too sneaky, in the jungles nearby. And with the moonshine makers came the bootleggers, the people ready to risk life and limb and transport it to the people who could afford to drink it; illegal it was but cheap it wasn’t.
The bootleggers used stock cars that they souped up under the hood and made them so fast that the cop cars could never even come close to catching them—think The Dukes of Hazzard and the General Lee but in flathead coupes. Of course, the inception of NASCAR racing didn't mean a bootlegger get-together, especially with the painful and ever-changing rules put in place to keep things as legal as possible. But the drivers don't like each and every regulation, so here are 10 rules that almost every driver tends to break at NASCAR and 10 they hate with all their heart!
20 Rules Drivers Hate: Any One Series
This one isn’t a rule any driver can break but they all sure hate it. Drivers can and do drop down or move up to race in a different series. The reasons are plentiful: sometimes they want to help a teammate or a sponsor, and sometimes they just want to race. But the thing is, drivers earn championship points in only one series, though they can race anywhere. So even if they “win” in a series they are not a declared driver for, the win isn’t theirs and is chalked up to their teammate driver for that series—which seems pretty sad because when the pressure is off, the wins come easy.
19 Rules Drivers Hate: Elimination After The Season
Say a driver races the season and has done pretty good for himself; he is still not safe, though. After the regular season has ended, NASCAR enters the playoffs. Here, the idea is to eliminate drivers until only four are left to race for the biggest win of the year. This becomes the race of the elite. The problem is that it is almost impossible to figure out or keep track of the number of points a driver needs to stay up, go down, or simply avoid being eliminated. NASCAR would be better off with a simpler point system but we doubt that will happen any time in the near future.
18 Rules Drivers Hate: Endless Overtime
How long can a race be? In NASCAR, it depends entirely on overtime. According to Fortune, overtime is pretty self-explanatory: if a race is close to the end and a caution period is called (more on that later), then more laps are added to try and finish the race. If an accident occurs, or there is a clear leader at the finish line, then the race concludes. If not, well, there is more overtime. But it drags on the nerves of the drivers and the audience because what good is racing if it just goes on...and on...and on? The good news? This rule just went pop!
17 Rules Drivers Hate: Sudden Caution Periods
There are times when caution periods are needed, to be sure, but most of the time, it seems they are thrown in to halt and mix things up in a boring race. If there is a car going slow and headed towards the pitlane—and it's safe and out of the way—what is the need for a caution period then? If the car is out of the way of the racers and poses no hazard to anyone, including itself, why is a caution period thrown? Do the officials need a break? Or do they just want to add some groans and moans for a nail-biting finish? No one knows.
16 Rules Drivers Hate: Stuck With A Number
Most drivers are mildly superstitious and we don’t blame them; any and every race poses a significant risk to them and their health. After all, NASCAR is perhaps the worst kind of contact sport possible. So they are well within their right to go for charms, lucky suits, or even lucky numbers. But NASCAR doesn’t always comply since it owns and assigns car numbers on an annual basis. These numbers are not for sale and NASCAR can revoke the number or assign it to another team for any year. Teams submit their requests and the numbers are up to NASCAR and availability.
15 Rules Drivers Hate: The Five-Minute Clock
This rule isn’t so bad but many drivers do hate it because much of it isn’t in their control. Drivers in any qualifying line have to pull forward and begin their run within five minutes of the wave forward. In case the team has an unexpected issue with the car or anything else, they have to sort it out in that five minutes and move forward or else they do not qualify for the race. They can apply for a provisional and then they can start from the rear but if they don’t have a provisional and there are more than 43 cars present, they go home and lose the race before it's even started.
14 Rules Drivers Hate: Waivers Can Still Win
In 2015, Kyle Busch won the Monster Energy Cup Series title. Now Busch came back after a major injury and two fractures in his legs to win so, in part, it was well deserved. According to NASCAR, he did not compete in every race of that season and still managed to make the playoffs—which makes him one very polarizing figure in racing, considering all the other drivers did compete in every race since that is not just the norm, but the rule. Was it fair on NASCAR’s part to let Busch win easily just because he was injured? The jury is still out on that one.
13 Rules Drivers Hate: All-Star Races
NASCAR’s all-star races were painful to watch and the attempt was more of a fumble than an actual race. Most NASCAR drivers hated it because all-star races made for such a lackluster performance that it found few if any takers. And from time to time, a driver would just up and leave and refuse to race before the flag—and there was nothing the officials could do about except watch the scene unfold. The drivers who weren’t part of the races could only watch, miffed at being left out. Meanwhile, the drivers in the race were too confused to do anything right in any case.
12 Rules Drivers Hate: Repaired Or Out In Five
In 2017, NASCAR tried to implement one of the worst rules in its history of bad rules. The rules made it so that in case a car broke down, the team had only five minutes to get it repaired and back on track before it was eliminated from the race. The thing was that oftentimes, good drivers were forced to retire early from races the event of something that was out of their control. And five minutes was hardly enough to make a racecar savvy again. The idea was to spice things up, we guess, and later NASCAR generously added one more minute to the rule, making it six minutes to get a car back on track, according to Sporting News.
11 Rules Drivers Hate: Abruptly Ended Races
This is just about the worst rule ever. Not allowing the drivers to race to the line is just lame, even though NASCAR added the overtime format to let a clear winner emerge. Still, to have a race end abruptly under caution takes away from the whole soul of racing. We agree that NASCAR is trying to make racing safer, especially after the 2001 passing of Dale Earnhardt, according to Racing Nation—but it's disappointing for both the drivers and the audience. Ending the race abruptly basically not only ruins the competitive spirit of the race but also made for the worst-ever finish the audience ever came to see.
10 Break Every Time: Double Yellow Lines
The track at NASCAR or any other race is fortified asphalt and it comes with a few rules that even the highway traffic has to follow—lines to pass being one such instant. The way highway drivers can cross single white lines to pass up a vehicle, but never cross a double yellow line, well, NASCAR drivers have to remember the double yellow line rule, too. Except, of course, when you are hurtling down a track at speeds that boggle the mind and have an eye on just the finish line; then, the yellow line might be crossed at Daytona and Talladega. A driver may be black-flagged for this while if a driver in front forces a car behind below the line, then he becomes the black-flagged one, according to Racing News.
9 Break Every Time: The Drivers’ Briefing
Drivers are briefed before every race. Why? To reinforce the rules and encourage fair play—and it is done by the NASCAR officials. And they can talk about anything and everything about racing, discuss any incident from the last race, talk about the new speed limits in the pits, or any rule changes, track changes, etc. The drivers do not like to be reminded of the rules before every race and consider it akin to being reprimanded about the rules like school children. Some drivers do make it a point to skip a briefing every now and then but they receive a telling off in return. So, skipping this is relatively rare.
8 Break Every Time: Cuss Words
Cuss words and colorful language are not really the norm when it comes to NASCAR radios. But driving at high speeds around a race track isn’t for the faint-hearted or the most erudite of mouths. According to the rule, NASCAR drivers cannot swear on the radio because viewing the sport is universal and for all ages. No parents would want their kids to learn naughty language just from listening to the radio. That said; almost every driver breaks this rule or has broken it at least once in their driving lifetime. It’s a stressful, cut-throat, and competitive job and the stress has to be released every now and then.
7 Break Every Time: No Intermingling
When you are competition, you are not allowed to talk to each other—or so NASCAR says. Why? Perhaps because if drivers do talk to each other, some of them may end up dissing each other to the point of fisticuffs. Or, on the other hand, they might share so many tips and tricks with each other that they lose all edge of competition. Apparently, drivers can only talk to their spotter or the crewmen, aka their own team. But do drivers always follow this rule? We doubt it, considering it's only human to communicate. And we are sure that drivers will find friends and enemies in the same group.
6 Break Every Time: No Lane Changing
Much like it is illegal to change lanes during certain stretches of the highway or the interstate, Daytona and Talladega also have rules about lane changing. David Ragan, the former Roush Fenway Racer, learned that lane changing could cost him a race the hard way: this exact rule did cost him the 2011 Daytona 500. He was summoned to the pit road for a drive-through penalty and lost the race to Trevor Bayne, the driver he passed by changing lanes. Unlike other races and tracks, apparently at NASCAR, fast is not always right. Of course, Ragan later did win the Coke 400 at Daytona in the same year and it turned out to be the only win of his career.
5 Break Every Time: Engine Tampering
No NASCAR cars remotely resemble stock cars under the hood. They are all amped-up, within legal restriction and NASCAR limits, to turn ordinary cars into racers. However, they are strict NASCAR guidelines that need to be followed. That said, every now and then, NASCAR manages to miss a car during the mandatory scrutineering and there have been cases of tricked-up shocks, tires, or even engines and fenders that have slipped under the radar and manage to win a point or two before eventually being barred, banned, or fined. Mostly though, it's only some points that are docked and the team is still allowed to race—with a new car, of course.
4 Break Every Time: Going Above And Beyond
According to NASCAR history, most cheaters still tend to keep their cup after a race has been declared. This may sound very unfair, to be honest, but according to NASCAR, if a winner has been declared, they don’t want to confuse the audience by taking the win away. And this was proven in 2005, when Jimmie Johnson won the Las Vegas race with Kyle Busch at his heels, according to Autoweek. Later, Johnson’s car was found to be too low and Busch’s ride was flunked for being too high. The cars were banned but the drivers kept their wins. From 2019 on, though, NASCAR plans to strip wins if either the driver or the car is found to be a cheater.
3 Break Every Time: No Driver Contact
We’ve already established that drivers are not allowed to talk to each other before or during a race, which seems like discipline school like—but NASCAR must have its own reasons. In the same vein, drivers are not allowed to resort to fisticuffs, either, in the name of competition. That doesn’t mean they don’t do it, though, and it was Kyle Busch and Joey Logano who resorted to a scuffle a few years ago. Other than a light rap on the knuckles and a general redface, drivers don’t get pulled for showing their emotions too much. Though if some dialogue was allowed, perhaps they would not resort to more extreme measures.
2 Break Every Time: Media Interaction
Not every driver wants to face the media and its slashing questions, especially if he faced a last-minute ignominious defeat or cheated a tad to get a win. Sometimes, all the driver wants to do is sit back, throw off his race suit, and have a stiff cup...of milk. No such luck—or at least, not for a while, because any and all drivers who are in the top three of any event are corralled into the media center or press box for interviews. Now, while the winner may be at the top of his game and mood, the second or third runner-up may be more petulant than joyful. And sometimes, drivers skip the interaction, only to be fined later on.
1 Break Every Time: Racing Contact
Technically, NASCAR does not encourage, condone, or (perhaps) even allow car-to-car contact during a race. You can't physically push a car out of the way to get to the finish line that much faster. But apparently, many drivers can, will, and have done so. In fact, Curtis Turner was one such driver and was nicknamed Pops—not for his age, though, but because he used to pop drivers from behind to get them out of his fast-and-furious way. Tailgating is quite the thing in the race of a driver’s life and many try and make full use of the physicality of their car to get to the finish line first.
Sources: Autoweek, NASCAR, Sporting News, Fortune, Racing News, and Racing Nation.