The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was founded in 1947 as a way of presenting a system and rules for setting performance standards in stock car championships. NASCAR's three main racing series are the Nextel Cup, the Busch Cup, and the Craftsman Truck Series. Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, and Jeff Gordon are just a few of the top drivers in NASCAR's history.
Today's NASCAR cars are hand made down to the smallest detail, but when NASCAR first began, however, the cars were modified street cars. NASCAR cars have a frame made of steel tubing. The roll cage, the part of the car where the driver sits, has its tubing designed to hold together through any impact so that the driver is protected at all times. The front clip, or front section of the frame, is made to eject the car's engine from the bottom of the car in case of an accident. The firewall separates the driver from the engine and helps protect the engine from reaching the driver's area.
NASCAR rules must always be followed when it comes to car construction and there are two main types of NASCAR cars: the super-speedway and the short-track. Super-speedway cars are built specifically for the super-speedways such as Alabama's Talladega where less engine power but more speed is needed. Short-track cars are built for short-tracked raceways such as Tennessee's Bristol Motor Speedway. Short-track turns are tighter so short-track cars are built with attention to the down force, which allows for the car to have a tighter hold on the track. Short-tracked raceways require less speed than super-speedways.
NASCAR uses a points system. Every driver who finishes a race gets points, even the last place finisher. The driver with the highest score at the end of the season's 36 races is the winner of the Cup. Bonus points are earned when a driver is leading in at least one lap of the race. The driver with the highest total number of lap leads at the end of a race scores an extra 5 points.
Ties between drivers at the end of an auto racing season are resolved by declaring the driver with the most wins as the Cup winner. If both drivers have the same number of wins, then second-place wins, third-place wins, and so on are compared until the winner is determined. Winners of each NASCAR race get 180 points and the points go down in varying increments with the last place finisher receiving 34 points.
Daytona Beach, Florida is home to the Daytona International Speedway. Daytona USA is an official theme-park attraction sponsored by NASCAR that allows visitors to experience race car thrills with the aid of motion simulators and computer technology. Visitors can sit in the cars and experience the speed, the sound, and the vibration of what it feels like to go 200 miles per hour. The IMAX theater also shows NASCAR films and footage.