Open Wheel:
Indy-Champ (IRL)
Sports Car:                       Stock Car
Grand-AM Tudor Le Mans  Courses      NASCAR
Trans-AM  Glossary

In the U.S., Auto Racing ranks 5th in spectator sports attendance (abt. 10 million/year, tied with golf), behind Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey.

Open Wheel - Single Seater

There have been a variety fo sanctioning bodies for open wheel racing:
USAC - United States Automobile Club
FIA - Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
SCCA - Sports Car Club of America
Sanctioning/Governing bodies (see Champ Car at Wikipedia)
CART - Championship Auto Racing League
CCWS - Champ Car World Series
IRL - Indi Racing League
See Sports Car Sanctioning bodies below.

Formula One (F1, Grand Prix racing):
Schedule | Standings
F1 is the highest class of auto racing defined by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).
Formula 1 cars were up to 1,400 HP in qualifying trim and 1,100 HP in racing trim, during the 1980s turbo era, but restrictions have been introduced for safety. Turbocharged engines were banned in 1989. The current generation of engines rev close to 20,000 rpm and produce 740-850 bhp. Engines are mandated as 2.4 litre normally aspirated V8s. The previous generation of 3-litre V10 engines are also allowed, albeit with their revs limited and with an air restrictor to limit performance.
The top teams, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and Ferrari have budgets in the neighborhood of $500 Million for the 2009 F1 season.
An F1 steering wheel costs over $50,000!

List of Formula One World Drivers' Champions
Results at
Manufacturers: McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, Williams, Honda, Toyota, British Racing Motors
Drivers: Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda, David Coulthard, Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya, Lewis Hamilton

Indy 500 (
An American automobile race, started in 1911 and held annually over the Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana.
From 1911-1955, the race was organized under the auspices of the AAA (American Automobile Association). Following the 1955 Le Mans disaster, AAA ceased its auto racing division to concentrate on its membership program aimed at the general motoring public. Starting in 1956, United States Automobile Club (USAC) took over and became the motor racing sanctioning authority in the United States for several years.
Indy cars have around 750 bhp, but are heavier than F1 cars. See comparison below.
Teams: Rodger Penske, Newman-Haas, Chip Ganassi, Pat Patrick, Dan Gurney
Drivers: AJ Foyt, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, (see also CART and IRL drivers below)

CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) - Indy Car - Champ Cars:
In early 2008 Champ Car merged with the Indy Racing League. See Wikipedia.

In 1979 a group of team owners headed by Dan Gurney and including Roger Penske and Pat Patrick went to the United States Automobile Club (USAC) to create a separate group under the USAC umbrella to promote the USAC National Championship of open wheel racing. USAC refused, so they created their own organization.
Until the split with the IRL (below) 1995, CART teams dominated the Indianapolis 500.
Drivers: Bobby Rahal, Al Unser Jr., Michael Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, Alex Zanardi, Jimmy Vasser, Juan Pablo Montoya

Champ Car (
In 2003, Champ Car replaced CART as the sanctioning body of the racing series.

See Champ Car at wikipedia.
Drivers: Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, List at wikipedia
Tracks: They have an all road-course schedule.

Indy Racing League (IRL): ( Schedule | Standings
In 1995 there was a dispute between egos at CART and Tony George, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. George went on to form a new racing series, the Indy Racing League (IRL) (, which initially included an all-oval schedule, all races on US soil, and mostly American drivers.
In 1997, Tony George specified new technical rules for less expensive cars and "production based" engines that outlawed the CART-spec cars that had been the mainstay of the race since the late 1970s.

Manuracturers (historical and current):
Chassis: Reynard, Lola, March, Dan Gurney's Eagle, Dallara (current)
Engines: Cosworth-Ford (old), Honda (current)
Teams: Rodger Penske, Newman/Haas, Chip Ganassi, Rahal-Letterman, Team Mindari, Forsythe,
Drivers: Sam Hornish Jr., Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta, Danica Patrick, Eddie Cheever, Scott Dixon, Gil de Ferran, Hélio Castroneves, Kenny Bräck,
Tracks: In 2007 they had 5 road course races: Watkins Glen (NY), Infineon (CA), St. Petersburg (FL), Mid-Ohio and Belle Isle (MI), and 12 races on ovals: Homestead-Miami, Motegi (Japan), Kansas, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Texas, Iowa, Richmond, Nashville, Michigan, Kentucky, Chicagoland.

IRL - Champ split:
The split between Tony George, Indianapolis owner who started the IRL, and CART (now Champ Car) was extremely acrimonious, and both series have suffered in the ten years since. The entry of Danica Patrick, considered to be the first female driver whose team was strong enough to provide her with a competitive, even potentially race-winning car, improved ratings in 2005.
In early 2008 Champ Car merged with the Indy Racing League. See Unification Wikipedia. See: Controversy at wikipedia.

ISMA International SuperModified Association are a class of open wheel race car that compete on paved short tracks. Engines and driver compartments offset to the left side. The giant wings mounted on the roof of the cars bear a resemblance to those found on sprint cars. The combination of high power, light weight, and high cornering ability allow supermodifieds to average over 120 miles per hour on a 1/2-mile oval and 150 mph on a 1-mile oval, with top speeds over 190 mph.

Sports Car Racing

Automobiles that have two seats and enclosed wheel wells.

Sports-Prototype - Cars designed exclusively for racing. (Can-AM, Le Mans, Grand-AM Daytona Prototype)

Grand Touring (GT) (from the Italian word Gran Turismo) is the most common form of sports car racing.
GT cars are effectively based on road going versions, some GT1 cars in the mid to late 1990s were purpose-built sports-prototypes (Toyota GT-One, Porsche 911 GT1-98, Mercedes CLK-GTR).

There have been a variety of Sanctioning Bodies which support sports car races:
IMSA - International Motor Sports Association
SCCA - Sports Car Club of America
Grand-Am - Grand American Road Racing Association
FISA - Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile
See: The History of Professional Street Stock Endurance Racing

Group 7 - Canadian-American Challenge Cup (Can-Am)
GROUP 7 was a FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) class with minimal regulations permitting unlimited engine sizes (allowing turbocharging and supercharging), and virtually unrestricted aerodynamics capable of over 250 MPH on the straights. Obsolete now.

Can-Am - Group 7 race series in Canada and the US from 1966 to 1974.

In an effort to reduce the speeds generated at Le Mans and other fast circuits of the day by the 7 litre Ford prototypes, FIA introduced Group 5 (or Sport 5000) for 5 litre sports cars manufactured in quantities of 50.

FIA Groups (Min. number of cars produced in 12 consecutive months):

  • Group 1: series-production touring cars (5,000)
  • Group 2: touring cars (1,000)
  • Group 3: series-production grand touring cars (1,000)
  • Group 4: special grand touring cars (500)
  • Group 5: sports cars (25)
  • Group 6: prototype-sports cars
  • GT1: Grand Touring Cars (25)
  • GT2: Series Grand Touring Cars (25)

Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) was the governing body for motor racing events. A restructuring of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) in 1993 lead to the disappearance of the FISA, putting motor racing under direct management of the FIA .

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's most famous sports car endurance race, held annually at Circuit de la Sarthe near Le Mans, France. Current classes are LMP1 and LMP2, for "Le Mans prototypes" and LMGT1 and LMGT2, for Gran Turismo or "GT" classes.

US Racing Series

A racing series which was created in 1966 by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), derived from the A & B Sedan amateur Club Racing classes.
Cars: Originally - Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Plymouth Barracuda, AMC Javelin and Dodge Challenger, more recently Jaguar XKRs have been winning
Drivers: Mark Donohue, Tommy Kendall, Paul Gentilozzi, Scott Pruett

IMSA (International Motor Sports Association)
  • GT Series 1971 - 199?
  • GTO cars were Grand Touring type cars with an engine of 2.5 L displacement or more. This category was initially dominated by the Porsche RSRs, then by the Camaros, Mustangs and then the various factory teams consisting of Cougars, RX-7s, Celicas, the 300ZX, Audis, Toyotas, ....
    Laguna Seca youTube Video
    1987 Toyota Celica Turbo IMSA GTO
  • GTU cars were Grand Touring type cars with engines of 2.5 L displacement or less. This series was dominated by the Porsche 911, then the Datsun 280ZX and finally by the SA22 Mazda RX-7s (1978-1985) through the end of the 80's.
  • Camel GT
  • GTP - GT Protypes 1981-1993
  • Current
  • The American Le Mans Series has a series of 12 races.
Grand-Am Rolex Series - Grand American Road Racing
Association, Daytona FL.   Originated in 2000 as a successor to the defunct United States Road Racing Championship. Bought by NASCAR in 2008.

Rolex Sports Car Series: Daytona Prototype (DP) Class - Grand Touring (GT) Class
GT (KONI Challenge Series) Manufacturers:
Porsche 997, Ford Mustang GT, BMW M3, Pontiac GTO, Nissan 350Z, Acura TSX, Mazda

DP (Rolex Series) Manufacturers (2011):
  Engine: Porsche, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet
  Chassis: Riley, Dallara, Lola and Coyote
  Drivers: Scott Pruett, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, David Donohue, Memo Rojas, Jan Magnussen, Max Papis, Jörg Bergmeister

Grand-Am cars also race in the 24 Hours at Daytona.
The series was discontinued in 2015

International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
See 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

Tudor United SportsCar Championship - Schedule
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Grand-AM Rolex joined forces in 2014 under the Tudor United SportsCar Championship (TUSCC) banner, under the International MotorSports Association (IMSA).
It includes 4 classes: Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC), GT Le Mans (GTLM), GT Daytona (GTD)

See United SportsCar Championship - Wikipedia

Stock Car Racing (
Sprint Cup: Schedule | 2010 Standings
Originally stock car racing used modified production cars. They are now custom built with a cage of welded steel tubes. They are rear wheel drive with cast-iron eight-cylinder engines with carburetors instead of the aluminum fuel injected engines with front wheel drive used in many of the production cars today. 2006-2008 rules prohibit Kevlar, Titanium, Carbon fiber and ceramic-coated parts. With the exception of the roof, hood and deck lid (which are supplied by the manufacturer), all of the body panels are custom made and must fit NASCAR templates.

NASCAR has three main series: NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series (similar to Nextel Cup cars with only a few differences, such as the weight of the car and the power output of the engine) and Craftsman Truck Series, plus some smaller series.

NASCAR races take place predominantly on oval tracks of 3 or 4 turns, with all turns to the left. Oval tracks are classified as short track (less than 1 mile), intermediate or speedway (1 to 2 miles) or superspeedway (over 2 miles).
Tracks: As of 2007, the NEXTEL Cup series includes 36 races, comprised of 34 oval tracks and 2 road courses, Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen.

Drivers: Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd
  All-time cup winners
Teams: Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Robert Yates, Penske, Ganassi, Joe Gibbs, Hendrick Motorsport, Michael Waltrip, Petty, Richard Childress Racing

NASCAR at wikipedia
NASCAR Glossary at SportsIllustrated
NASCAR at HowStuffWorks

Speed Comparison:
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal hosts a variety of races from NASCAR to F1. Track records:

Formula One    (2002) *                          1:12.8 134.0 MPH Juan Pablo Montoya
Formula One                                      1:13.6 132.6 MPH R. Barrichello
Champ Car                                        1:20.8 120.7 MPH
Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype (2008) 1:33.2 104.7 MPH Scott Pruett 
Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype (2010) 1:31.5 106.6 MPH Jon Fogarty
Rolex Sports Car Series GT class   (2010)        1:38.8  98.8 MPH Boris Said
NASCAR                            (2010)         1:40.5  97.1 MPH Marcos Ambrose
*in 2005  to the curbs on the final chicane were made higher and more difficult to see.
See Fast Cars.
Top Fuel dragsters and reach speeds of 330 MPH in 1/4 mile. See Speed and acceleration.

F1 cars had more horsepower prior to 1989 when turbocharging was banned.

Drag Racing, Rally Racing, Off Road Racing, Rallying, Le Mans Endurance Series
See: Auto Racing at Wikipedia

Race Courses:

  • Short ovals - oval tracks less than 2 miles long
  • Super speedways - oval tracks 2 miles or longer
  • Street courses - courses laid out on city streets
  • Road courses - courses with much of the feel of a street course (lots of tight
turns and short straight-aways), but running on special closed tracks rather than on city streets Road Courses: Watkins Glen ( (Track Map), Watkins Glen NY | Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point) - Sanoma, CA | Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca - Monterey, CA | Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, CT | Homestead - Miami, FL | Sebring, FL | Road America - Elkhart Lake, WI | Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, OH |
Ovals: Daytona International Speedway, FL | Indianapolis Motor Speedway®, IN | Talladega Superspeedway, AL | California Speedway - Fontana (N of Riverside), CA
New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville, NJ, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal

See also: Auto Racing Race Tracks - Race Track Information
Main Page - Trackpedia

The 1955 Le Mans disaster occurred during the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans when a race car was involved in an accident and flew into the crowd of spectators, killing over 80 people.

Driver Earnings:
Fortunate 50 at Sports Illustrated.
Driver Series $
Michael Schumacher F1 $80,000,000
Jeff Gordon NASCAR $10,000,000
Paul Tracy Champ $4,000,000
Dario Franchitti IRL * $4,000,000
*Includes $1,600,000 for Indianapolis 500
Note: The less well known drivers in Champ Cars, probably don't make much more than expenses.

AAA - American Automobile Association - A sanctioning body formed in 1905 replaced by USAC in 1956.
ACCUS - Automobile Competition Committee of the United States
CART - Championship Auto Racing Teams - (Replaced by Champ cars)
CCWS - Champ Car World Series
CSI - Commission Sportive Internationale - The independent competition arm of the FIA
DP - Daytona Prototype (See Grand-Am rules)
FIA - Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile
FISA - Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile
Grand_Am - Grand American Road Racing Association
GT - Grand Touring
IRL - Indy Racing League
IMSA - International Motor Sports Association (
ISMA International SuperModified Association
SCCA - Sports Car Club of America (
USAC - United States Automobile Club

Auto Racing at: | wikipedia
Comparison of Champ cars and Formula One
Acceleration - Speed
Athlete Earnings

last updated 22 Apr 2011