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Car Classes in Auto Racing

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In Auto Racing, there are hundreds of different classes throughout the world. Those classes can be put into categories of their sanctioning bodies, organizations that have a common set of rules for each class at a number of different racing venues. For instance, in NASCAR, the three top tier classes are Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. Each of the series’ has specific rules for their vehicles such as spoiler height, tires, bodies, and engines. NASCAR also has lower tier racing such as NASCAR Home Tracks, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, NASCAR Corona Series, and regional racing series. Each of these has specifications for the cars that compete in racing events.

There are several sanctioning bodies throughout the United States and Canada for example that operate several different classes of cars. IMCA is the oldest active sanctioning body in the U.S. and operates in dozens of racing facilities. They run Modifieds, Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Sport Compact cars, Sprint Cars, Northern Sport Mods and their Southern counterpart. Each of these classes has different rules and guidelines that determine different appearances, power, and suspension adjustment. Drivers must purchase a license to race in IMCA events as well and follow general rules that direct the organization as a whole.

The WISSOTA Promoters’ Association is a dirt track sanctioning body that has a common set of rules for five different classes, Modifieds, Midwest Modifieds, Street Stocks, Super Stocks, and Late Models. Even though IMCA Modifieds are the same by title, the rules packages are different. Knowing what sanctioning body is in your region will help build the appropriate race car.

There are also several touring series that have a common set of rules. The World of Outlaws in both Late Models and Sprints travel throughout North America with a traveling crew that work towards a point championship. Their common set of rules creates evenly built cars so that the competition remains close.

Some of the most noticeable differences in car classes are the body. In WISSOTA, Modifieds and Street Stocks are visually different as Modifieds have no front wheel wells making them “open wheel”. Street Stocks have a full body, making them look like a car that was on the street at some point. Modifieds are also 750lbs lighter than their Street counterpart and have a more open engine rule. As a result, Modifieds are cars that have been built for speed and agility.

Another example is Late Models and Sprints. There are many different sanctions bodies that have these two classes. The two are completely different looking as well. Sprints are extremely light, have a very short wheel base, are completely open wheeled and have two wings, one on the front and a very large one on the top for downforce. Their acceleration and top speed are the highest among short track racing. Sprint cars are an instant crowd pleaser due to these two factors. They are also very dangerous as they can make for some scary rollovers and accidents.  

Late Models are wider, low to the ground and weigh over a thousand pounds more than a Sprint. They have a longer wheel base, are wider, have a full custom body and a spoiler on the back. They are best known for close side by side racing and great speed. Once seen in real life, it is not very difficult to understand their differences in appearance.

Whatever classes may be running at a track, sometimes it can be easy to notice differences and sometimes not. In the case of WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds and WISSOTA Modifieds, the cars have a similar look. The biggest difference is in the engine. Midwest Modifieds are slower and a bit heavier compared to their bigger brother, which is easily noticeable once seen on the track.

It is important to know what classes may be running at the next track you may be attending. Find out the sanctioning body and it will help to assist those that are unable to understand the differences and intricacies of the different types of vehicles being run at a facility.

More about this author: Anthony Leek

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