Top 5 Reasons Why NASCAR Should Be Considered a Sport
5. Drivers Wheel More Than 3,000 lb Around a Track
NASCAR’s current crop of cars, the Gen 6, has a base weight of 3,200 lb (1,451 kg).
The minimum weight goes up to 3,400 lb (1,542 kg) with the driver.
That alone might not sound particularly impressive, as that’s the average weight of a normal car.
But NASCAR drivers aren’t simply going for a Sunday drive.
It’s one thing to wheel that weight at a safe speed on the road.
Another thing is to turn that same amount of weight at high speed.
Cars are often averaging from 150 mph to 190 mph depending on the track.
This requires some significant strength, which leads to the next reason.
4. Dealing With G-Force
Here is where physics come into play.
Whenever drivers are turning the car around, gravity naturally plays its part.
This is commonly referred to as G-force, with one G unit being equal to gravity’s acceleration.
In other words, 2 Gs would make a 150 lb object feel like a 300 lb object.
Driver’s bodies are dealing with this on a regular basis, hundreds of times over the course of a race.
Intense G-forces can lead to a number of adverse symptoms, including loss of consciousness and blood flow-related issues.
Fighter jet pilots deal with acceleration around 9g.
While NASCAR drivers don’t go to such extremes, they are still dealing with 2 to 4 g regularly.
3. Withstanding High Temperatures Inside the Cockpit
Race cars tend to get insanely hot inside the cockpit.
This is especially true for closed cockpit variations, such as NASCAR’s stock cars.
Open cockpit cars such as open wheelers have some air flowing to the driver’s helmet.
Touring cars, GT and stock cars, on the other hand, have almost no openings.
Aero-flow gets severely disturbed by any openings, which means that drivers have to deal with the heat.
Cool suits and air conditioning are used as alternatives.
While they do offer some sort of relief, it doesn’t help much when drivers are suited from head to toes.
Drivers deal with temperatures that range from 100 to 150 degrees for 3 to 4 hours.
2. Race Length
Indycar’s flagship event is a 500-mile race at Indianapolis.
Formula One races are usually 300 km events or something around 185 miles.
The shortest races in NASCAR are 250 miles events at Martinsville and Bristol.
Most events are in the 400 to 500 miles range, with one 600 mile race at Charlotte.
With tracks being around 1 to 1.5 mile, this means that drivers are going around doing 260 to 330 laps.
That usually translates into races that last from three to four and sometimes even five hours.
In other words, drivers are strapped inside hot cockpits dealing with high G-forces and high speeds for a long period of time.
1. Physical Fitness
As one would imagine, it takes a lot of training to deal with all of that.
Driving a race car also requires some well-tuned reflexes, as things can go horribly wrong with one mistake.
It’s a well-known fact that fatigue leads to a loss in reflexes, as reactions tend to slow down.
With that in mind, NASCAR drivers have to keep themselves fit in order to make that drop minimal.
As time goes by, racing drivers become more and more aware of the benefits that a good training regimen brings.
Competing at the highest levels, any drop in performance makes a huge difference.
While equipment plays a key role, drivers have to, at the very least, work on their own physical preparation in order to keep up with the opponents.
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