Like Jazz, NASCAR is an original, US-made concoction. The history surrounding its beginnings are about as storied and colorful as the sport remains today. According to CIO Magazine, it all grew out of the reckless actions of moonshine runners during Prohibition. In order to keep their cars a step ahead of enforcement, they had to modify their cars to go faster. The same source notes that they’d hold races, out of which NASCAR emerged.
Today the sport isn’t associated with moonshine running, in fact, it’s the opposite of the Prohibition, with drinking being a staple part of watching races. There’s a lot more nuance to NASCAR fans though than merely kicking back and opening a cold one.
Followers of NASCAR have a set of informal and unofficial rules they have to follow. On the surface, the popular motorsport looks like the last thing that would have guidelines for its fans. They are necessary, however, for helping fans get the most out of the sport.
Many of the rules apply to fans who show up to races live but can also include those who tune in from home in some cases. If they fail to follow all the rules, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb to fellow NASCAR fans, who will start to wonder if they're new to the sport.
In addition to all the rules fans have to follow, check out NASCAR myths every fan knows aren’t true. Those who care more about the cars should be sure and read oddest race cars to ever hit the NASCAR track.
This has to be one of the easiest rules on the list, as long as fans don’t overthink it. Looking at NASCAR fans, they’re not the most sophisticated bunch or glamorously dressed. As Broward Palm Beach New Times describes NASCAR crowds, the turn out looks like a "freakshow."
That’s because the fans don’t overthink their wardrobe. Some dress up in costumes, others wear what they woke up in, some just want to stay cool in the weather and opt for a practical approach. There’s something endearing about watching a sport in one’s most comfortable getup, and that’s exactly what NASCAR fans have to do.
The United States is a free country and there are no rules against watching two different motorsports. NASCAR, however, rests in a category all on its own. It’s a sport that demands a lot and should, in essence, satisfy fans. NASCAR fans who have an interest in Formula 1 as well are going to get raised eyebrows from fans within the NASCAR community.
It would seem like a betrayal to those who are loyal to the sport. Despite racers from both motorsports crossing the aisle on amicable terms, the two fan bases appear staunchly split without any sign of things changing.
As sports, NASCAR and baseball have nothing in common. One involves driving a car, the other throwing and hitting a ball. They do, however, intersect in one regard: the fans and participants are superstitious. Like baseball, it has long been a part of the motorsport. Even more, there’s a superstition surrounding peanut shells. In the early days of the sport, according to Bleacher Report, peanut shells from the spectators would slip through cracks to the bowels of the track below where racers prepped.
If a car got in a crash, they’d find the shells, and somehow it got linked to people’s fears.
There’s some risk involved in attending a NASCAR race in person. Although the chances of something happening are next to slim, the events do entail cars driving 200 mph around a track, so anything can happen. The site Coker Law reports that one spectator found himself in the hospital with serious wounds because of flying NASCAR parts. It happened at Daytona International Speedway back in February 2013.
Over 30 people in all had injuries because of this incident. While not common, these instances prove that NASCAR fans have to be brave if they want to see their favorite racers up close and personal.
Fans who attend NASCAR events need to be in for anything. Whether it be in rain or shine, only the most loyal of fans plan on being in their seats no matter what the weather is like. For many fans attending races, the temperature can get sweltering. If spectators think it’s bad for them, they should consider how hot it gets for the drivers themselves.
According to ABC 7 News, when one factors in the heat that accumulates in the cars, along with their full-body suits, it can get as hot as 140 degrees. When fans put this in perspective, showing up to events without complaint is the least they can do.
It’s not enough for NASCAR fans to show up at events; they also have to show their support and excitement. There’s a twist to it though. Everyone has to do it in their own unique way. Whether it’s showing off tattoos that commemorate the sport or getting a weird haircut, there are no limits to what a fan can do for their favorite sport, as long as it doesn't harm anyone else.
As the site CarCareCONNECT notes, one fan even went so far as to put NASCAR’s official logo on the top of their tombstone. Something like that even cost about $10,000.
Journalists who cover sports tend to be fans as well. While it’s their job to be up on the latest goings-on in NASCAR and Formula 1, their allegiance to both is breaking a rule. Although there are many similarities between Formula 1 and NASCAR, the culture behind the two is vastly different.
Although both fan bases have diehard loyalty to each of their brands, their support manifests in different ways. So when motorsport journalists cover both and attempt to make cases for each sport to the opposite camps, they're in a sense breaking a NASCAR fan rule in supporting Formula 1. Sorry, it’s NASCAR or nothing at all.
NASCAR has had its ups and downs. The real fans stick with the sport though even when things aren’t going well. They find pride in supporting their drivers and the organization through thick and thin. For the last few years, Forbes reports that attendance and ratings have gone down for NASCAR. The fans, however, can’t admit this.
They have to assume everything is going well if they want the sport to last and are better off putting a positive spin on things. As the same source notes, it’s better for fans to look at things in transition than it is to ever admit that the sport is on its way out.
People respect athletes and stars. At the same time, many people go to sporting events to heckle the racers. NASCAR fans are a hard bunch to please who have high expectations. If a driver doesn’t meet one’s standards, then NASCAR fans have a responsibility to put that driver in their place. After an ordeal with his crew chief, racer Austin Dillon got lambasted online by fans, according to USA Today.
They thought he was being disrespectful to his fellow team members and weren’t afraid to put him in his place. If there’s a lesson there for NASCAR drivers, it’s not to mess with fans.
If there’s a city that’s the center of NASCAR, it would have to be Charlotte. The site Charlotte’s Got A Lot reports that the NASCAR Hall of Fame resides there. They also have a museum and racing demo there that’s open to the public. A real NASCAR fan visits the Hall of Fame to learn more about their favorite motorsports, such as important dates and the legendary racers who helped make it what it is today.
There are even noteworthy race cars on display. If that’s not enough, it’s also home to the Charlotte Motor Speedway where two races take place every year.
Oh, say can you see, by fans’ wardrobe and demeanor, they love America? They’re proud to the core of their country, freedom, and everything that comes with it—including NASCAR. Therefore, it’s only natural that they commemorate America at events or from the comfort of home.
A NASCAR event is sure to have its share of flags, cowboy hats, a fighter jet flyover, the national anthem and more. If fans don’t resonate with these kinds of symbols or get misty-eyed listening to America’s greatest hits, then they're far from being a NASCAR fan. Being patriotic is part of being a fan.
It happens every year, but only true NASCAR fans make an effort to take part in it. The NASCAR truck parade occurs after a weekend of races when all the rigs pass along notable highways. According to The Daily Item, it happens on Sunday night and goes through Routes 11-15. These big haulers carry equipment and items for the racing events and are part of what makes everything happen.
It’s only natural NASCAR fans would want to line up alongside the roads to cheer them on. While the sport takes good care of these trucks, other cars haven’t been so lucky. Be sure to see NASCAR race cars rusting away to nothing.
It’s time to pick on the journalists again. This time, it has to do with voicing any negativity about NASCAR and in particular, alluding to its possible demise. While it’s the job of motorsport journalists to hold sports accountable with the hope that they do extremely well, from a fan standpoint it's breaking a rule.
One article in The Guardian examined NASCAR struggles of late. It even included a quote by a journalist named Ed Hinton who speculated about whether he thought the sport would even be able to recover from its recent troubles. Looks like a major NASCAR rule was just broken.
NASCAR fans speak a different language. Like the racers and pit crews, they use terms unfamiliar to the general public. In the book, 100 Things NASCAR Fans Should Know Before They Die, the author lists a series of terms fans are liable to say. The book defines the word “esses,” for example, as “a series of quick left and right turns on a road course.”
Another one comes in the form of "drafting,” which the book declares is “two or more cars running close together that create aerodynamic benefits to both.” Real NASCAR fans know the lingo and won’t hesitate to show it.
As touched on earlier, fans went online to criticize a NASCAR driver after he said some things to his crew that rubbed some the wrong way. Many took to Twitter to voice their frustration towards the driver.
According to Wired, NASCAR fans have gone all in on Twitter and love the platform for giving them real-time updates on their favorite motorsport. There’s even a photo here of world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder plugged in while at a NASCAR event. He seems to recognize that a valuable component to watching NASCAR is having his phone close at hand for the latest news and updates.
Expanding on an earlier point, the sport has to evolve in order to appeal to a wider base of fans. The NASCAR of today is different from the one born out of the Prohibition era. While common denominators still remain like fast cars and traditions, the fans appear to be waning.
More than ever, NASCAR needs its fans to stay true to the motorsport as it goes through changes. Many things may even anger current fans, like new rule changes. In the end, this rule is one of the hardest for fans to follow. On top of the sport changing, life gets in the way and it’s hard to remain dedicated to something over the long term.
NASCAR isn’t for wimps. For those attending in person, it’s more than just a race—it’s practically an entire day of nonstop events. It takes a lot of energy and pep in one’s step to make it through the day without dropping. Even NASCAR fans are competitive amongst each other, in essence mimicking the sport they watch and love. Each of them pushes forward without taking breaks or settling down for a nap in the stands.
NASCAR fans stay awake for all the proceedings. This NASCAR fan couldn’t keep his eyes open, but he gets a pass for starting at a young age.
Sources: CIO, ABC 7 News, CarCareCONNECT, USA Today, Forbes, Bleacher Report, Charlotte's Got A Lot, Coker Law, Wired, The Daily Item, 100 Things NASCAR Fans Should Know Before They Die, Broward Palm Beach New Times, The Guardian