It may not seem like it, but there are actually a ton of different rules and regulations out there. Whether you’re building a house, walking across the street, or addressing an envelope, there are certain laws and regulations that you have to follow if you want to make sure that your house stands up during an earthquake or your letter arrives where you want it to. Well, auto racing is no different. Not only are there regulations from racing bodies and individual tracks, but there are regs from the government as well.
NASCAR is one of the most rule-laden organizations out there. Nearly everything about the cars is regulated, down to the length of the fuel lines and the type of carburetors. Thanks to Smokey Yunick and others, who grew their careers around finding loopholes in the rules for a competitive advantage, NASCAR has had to essentially design the cars for their teams.
One set of rules that all racing bodies adhere to are track rules. There is a certain etiquette that drivers use while racing to make sure that everything is fair and reasonably safe. For example, not driving over a certain speed in the pits ensures the safety of the crews. Meanwhile, intentionally wrecking another car is frowned upon.
Individual tracks a lot of the time have their own rules, usually to comply with their insurance policies and to keep the hooligan behavior to a minimum. One such rule is in effect at many drag strips. If a car runs faster than 11 seconds in a quarter mile the driver must wear a helmet, and if the car breaks 10 they must have a roll cage. These individual tracks also have their own etiquette, like appropriate passing areas, crash protocol, and unique messages for flags.
While governments rarely interfere with motorsports, they do have some rules about them. Luckily, the EPA hasn’t bothered NASCAR, F1, or any other series about emissions, but many local communities have piped up about noise. In recent years many race tracks have been closed because of constant noise complaints from neighbors. One of such is Fontana Speedway in California, which has been switching between open and shut down for some years. One thing the government doesn’t appreciate is racing cars on the street. Street racing, or driving cars that aren’t street-legal on public roads is a recipe for a crushed car and some hefty fines, so if you have to satisfy your need for speed, do it on a track.
Yes, rules are everywhere and motorsport is no exception. But the rules that are in place help keep the sport safer and as thrilling as ever.
Glenn Sheldon is an avid race fan as well as a former government lawyer. He’s now enjoying a second career as a sports journalist, writing about NASCAR, Scott Tucker, American Le Mans, and other racing topics for blogs and news sites all over the web.