The first automobile race probably occurred shortly after the second car was built. After all, if there are two cars everyone wants to know who is faster. Early automobile racing occurred on what passed for roads at that time. The first documented motor car race happened in 1894 with competitors traveling from Paris to Rouen in France. The early races often were endurance tests with many competitors unable to complete the race. As the years progressed, cars became more reliable and faster. The world of automobile racing has also been divided into a number of categories based on the features of the car and the type of course where the races are contested. Each category has its own competitors and fans that follow the race events faithfully.
Formula One racing is considered the premier racing category in the world. Formula One cars are specially built single-seat automobiles that compete around the world. In the United States, the category is also known as Indy Car racing based on Indianapolis 500 race.
Stock car racing is a popular American motor sport. The major competitors in the category race on a national circuit known as the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing or NASCAR. Lesser circuits occur all across the United States with local dirt track racing occurring in many communities around the nation. Stock cars are built specifically for racing but include a shell or skin designed to look like a production model car.
Sports car racing also involves cars built specifically for racing. These vehicles compete in a number of classes within the overall sports car category. The vehicles differ from the Formula One cars with a closed drivers position and fenders over the wheels. One of the best known sports car race series is the Le Mans Series. Some sports car races allow two drivers to change off during the race.
Drag racing is possibly the purest form of racing. Two cars line up at the start of a straight stretch of track. When the light turns green, the two cars race down the track to see who reaches the finish line first. Drag racers compete in a series of competitions with the winner advancing from each race to compete against another car and driver that had won its race. The overall champion is determined by the car that continues to win until all the rest of the field is eliminated. This type of racing is governed by the National Hot Rod Association or NHRA.
Rallying is another class of auto racing popular around the world with less interest shown in the United States. Rally cars are commonly production automobiles modified for safety and performance. A rally may occur over a number of days and include off-road terrain.
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