How Much Does A NASCAR Car Cost?

How much does a NASCAR car cost?
How much does a NASCAR car cost?

If you have ever watched NASCAR cars hurtling round an oval track, you would most likely have wondered ‘How much does a NASCAR car cost?’

NASCAR or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing LLC. was founded in 1948 by Bill France Sr with the first races held on the dirt tracks of North Carolina and Florida.

The initial races were held with “strictly stock cars” with no alterations or modifications made on factory bought cars. Modifications for safety and performance were subsequently allowed with the cars resembling stock cars. 

Asking a team owner the cost of a NASCAR car is like asking the age of a lady. The cost of all racing cars is the best-kept secret. That is because of the competition as well as regulations. Few persons have ever glanced through the balance sheet of a team owner. However, starting with the components of the car, a rough estimate of a NASCAR car cost can be arrived at.

As NASCAR relaxed its rules, team owners started ordering made to order cars for racing in NASCAR races. NASCAR does regulate the overall dimensions of the car and the size of the engine. However, the increased demand for better performance meant that the cost of a NASCAR car went up. 

Over the past 70 years, a lot has changed. The cars racing in NASCAR today are custom built in the true sense of the word. Every component is designed, engineered, tuned and perfected for racing. This has led to a huge increase in the cost of a NASCAR car. Inflation over the years has certainly not helped.

NASCAR cars do have an engine and four wheels like an ordinary car. But that is where the similarity stops. The price of a racing car has gone up exponentially over the last two decades. Top racing teams build and maintain anywhere between 15 to 22 cars per season. The budget for maintaining a full-fledged NASCAR team can exceed 20 million dollars.

How much does a NASCAR car cost?
#47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Funfetti, #19: Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro Shops, #2: Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Pirtek (image courtesy Team Penske)

How much does a NASCAR car cost?

To find out the cost of a NASCAR car one has to go component by component. The major cost components are the engine, tyres, chassis, accident and maintenance costs. Out of these, tyres are the biggest cost to the team owner because several tyres have to be changed per race.

While the total cost comes in around $365,000, there are many components that go into the final price tag, that we will outline below…

How much does a NASCAR engine cost?

NASCAR cars are powered by fuel-injected V8 engines since 2012. Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet are the suppliers of the engine. NASCAR stipulates that the engine of a racing car cannot be larger than 358 cubic inches or 5,867 centimetres. This may not look like a big volume till one sets out to buy a racing car engine. 

A NASCAR car engine could cost anywhere from $70,000 to $200,000. Any upgrading of the engine could cost an additional $40,000. Most of the cost of the engine goes into research and development. That is done to extract as much power out of the engine as possible. Remember that for every participating car, there is a standby car in every race.

How much does a NASCAR car chassis cost?

In 2012, NASCAR introduced the Generation 6 car (Gen-6 car). This car had improved safety features, The chassis also had a better aero design and downforce packages. The increased downforce afforded the cars a better grip on the racing track but increased the turbulence. This hindered overtaking and several downforce packages have been introduced since.

In order to balance the weight, the body is constructed to distribute the weight evenly on all sides. The doors of the car cannot be opened as the car is designed for seating only the driver. Understandably, the cost of the chassis increased. A chassis for a present-day NASCAR car could cost anywhere from $70,000 to $125,000. The chassis is modified to accommodate only the driver. 

How much do NASCAR tyres cost?

A NASCAR car owner shells out the maximum money towards leasing tyres over a season. These tyres are not the same as on a common sedan. For better grip, NASCAR tyres are threadless which allows them to grip the surface better. They are 11 inches wide (28 centimetres) and are much wider than normal tyres. 

These tyres are constructed painstakingly by placing layer upon layer of rubberised material. In between the layers is rubber-coated steel cables which are called beads. The tyres wear out quickly. The tyres are leased from Goodyear. An owner simply couldn’t afford to buy tyres because they wear out quickly.

The tyres are leased for anywhere between $350 to $500 per tyre. Each team is allowed to lease 16 sets of tyres per race. That means a car owner winds up spending at least $20,000 on tyres per race for each car.

Besides, there is the braking system, exhaust system and other components that make up a car. These components are also precision engineered and optimised for performance. Add another $20,000 towards the cost of these parts. An accident on the race track could cost up to $50,000 to repair depending on the extent of the damage.

Who pays for NASCAR cars?

NASCAR cars are precision engineered in the search for ultimate power. But this increases the cost of the cars. So how do owners who own multiple teams pay for the cars? A look at a NASCAR car reveals the answer to the question. Stickers carrying the names of top corporations are all over the car. They are on the sides, the hood, the doors and the bumper. 130 of the Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR cars. 

The companies pay anything between $20 million to $25 million to sponsor a NASCAR team. A long term contract will cost more. A company paying for a primary sponsorship earns the right to advertise on the hood of the car. Their logo is displayed on the front of the driver’s and the pit crew’s uniforms. They also get to display advertisements on the sides of the rigs that transport the car across the country.

Secondary and associate sponsorship can be bought for $2 million to $6 million. Hendrick Motorsport employs more than 500 people to maintain NASCAR cars. It is estimated that 65 to 70 per cent cost of all the infrastructure is sponsorship paid. The rest of the expenses are covered by other endorsements and race winnings.

These costs are transferred to the customers of these companies and the fans! Obviously, corporations and NASCAR are in the business to make money. Therefore, it is you and I who are lifting the tab not only for NASCAR but for all the racing cars in the world.

How much does a NASCAR car cost to own and run?

Let us add up all the costs that we have discussed so far and we come up with the cost of a NASCAR car.

Engine:                                                            $200,000
Chassis                                                           $125,000
Tyres                                                               $20,000
Other components                                          $20,000
The total cost of a NASCAR car                    $365,000
        
That is the cost of a decent NASCAR car. Add to that the cost of the maintenance crew and accident costs if participating in a race is considered. The cars, though they look attractive and exciting, come at a high price. The trick is in finding a sponsor to fund your car.

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