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Know about Sprint Car Racing and Its History

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

What are Sprint Cars?

Sprint racing cars are powerful open-wheel race cars that run on short, paved, oval, or circular tracks. With weights of around 1,400 pounds (640 kg) (including the driver) and power outputs of over 900 horse power (670 kW), sprint cars have exceptionally high power-to-weight ratios, outperforming modern F1 vehicles in this regard.

Sprint car racing features direct competition between high-performance small cars. It has the reputation of being a stepping stone for many drivers to enter the NASCAR and IndyCar series. Sprint car racing is well-liked in South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.

How do Sprint Cars works?

Sprint cars of today are simple and obscenely powerful. There is no dead weight on the vehicle; if a component isn't necessary for performance, it is removed.

The wheelbase is only 84 inches, and the chassis is a simple tube frame. Torsion bars serve as the springs, and the suspension comprises a live axle at the rear and a dead axle at the front. The quick-change rear axle is coupled to a V8 engine via an "in-out box," which runs on methanol. There is no starter motor, and the battery can only supply enough power for the evening's use of the ignition system. The overwhelming force is coupled to the soft clay dirt track underneath by two enormous, staggered (turning left/ right rear larger diameter) rear tires of various sizes. With his legs straddling the driveshaft, the driver is seated atop the rear axle.

A sprint car spends most of its time struggling for traction, broad sliding around the corners, wheel standing on the straights, and hurling clay into the stands as the driver desperately tries to control the vehicle. Its power-to-weight ratio is comparable to that of a Formula 1 racer and has a short, tippy frame.



Since the original sprint racing cars debuted in the 1930s and 1940s, wingless sprint cars have been regarded as conventional sprint cars (that ultimately evolved into Indy cars). They typically employ the same 410 cubic inches (6,700 ccs) and 360 cubic inches (5,900 cc) aluminum engines as their winged counterparts. Although many local tracks have laws demanding steel blocks and some 305 cubic inches (5,000 ccs) displacements, this is essential for cost control.

Some more recent regional organizations, notably POWRi and Elite, have decided to accept open engines with no size restriction.


Winged sprint cars are sprint cars with extra wings. The extra wings provide more downforce for the automobile, while the sideboards' opposite direction helps it turn in turns. Thus the car is faster and simpler to control because of the improved traction.

The wing also impacts safety. The additional downforce reduces the likelihood of taking off. When cars become airborne, the wings make initial contact with the ground and break off or collapse upon impact, reducing the force on the driver and the vehicle. Therefore, Winged cars are safer to drive for these reasons. The resulting delay frequently allows teams to change their wing and continue once the race has resumed.


Midget racing, which is still highly popular today and is sanctioned by organizations like USAC, POWRI, and others, dates back to the 1930s. Midget cars are scaled-down versions of full-size sprint cars that often have no wings. They only resemble their larger counterparts in terms of look, but they are propelled by four-cylinder engines that produce about 350 horsepower (260 kW).


Similar in size to midget cars, mini sprints have upright-style chassis and four-cylinder motorcycle engines with displacements ranging from 750 to 1200 cc situated in the center and propelled by a chain.


Small race cars known as "micro sprints" are scaled-down versions of full sprint cars. They are a beginner class for aspirational sprint car fans, powered by side-mounted 600 cc motorcycle engines with roughly 140 hp and chain drive. They have bodywork and chassis that resemble midgets or full-sized sprint cars. Depending on whether they have wings or not, they can be raced; the latter are frequently referred to as "micro midgets" or "600 cc sprints." Although they occasionally take place on larger tracks, micro sprints are often run on short dirt tracks that are no longer than a fifth of a mile in length.

775 lbs for vehicles with wings and 725 lbs for cars without wings are the standard minimum weights for automobiles to pass tech. Although they can cost as much as full-sized sprint cars, racing micro sprints is typically less expensive than racing small sprints or midget sprints.


The sprint car racing series began in the years following World War 1. Before that, racing was dominated by modified stock cars with larger engines. Most of this sprint car racing occurred in larger cities with factory-sponsored teams. Following the war, rural areas saw the introduction of automobiles manufactured from disassembled Model T Fords and racing on country fair horse tracks. Even though there were other types of vehicles, the Model Ts were common, reasonably priced, and had a wide range of spare parts. They were simply referred to as "racing cars" or even "dirt track cars" for these home-built vehicles.


The early teardrop-shaped cars were more akin to the Indy cars in terms of aerodynamics than the modern sprint car engines.

By the late 1940s, sprints had established a presence on half-mile dirt ovals throughout the nation, where they started dominating competition between Indy and midget cars. These older, more streamlined sprints are still run even though they have a slower top speed and differing mechanical configurations to match their lack of downforce.


Winged sprint cars were originally introduced at the end of the 1950s, as engines transitioned from four-cylinder units to flathead V8s. The following platform was powered by small-block Chevy engines, which would ultimately become the norm.

The wings on sprint racing cars considerably boosted safety by minimizing rollovers and putting a second barrier between the driver and the point of impact in an accident, in addition to enhancing speeds on the well-known banked-dirt ovals. Shortly after, the first sideboard-bearing wings on the front and top of sprint cars were introduced.

They just became faster as performance parts improved over time. Thanks to their tube frames, small wheelbases, solid axles, and methanol-burning engines with more than 800 horsepower, modern sprint car racers exceed Formula One car in terms of power to weight. Some of the top racers drive them because of how challenging it is to drive them quickly.


Sprint cars had a substantial rise in popularity following the creation of the World of Outlaws Series in 1978, which offered a national promotional framework for what had previously been a rural and regional type of motorsports. Along with the World of Outlaws, which features the fastest and most accomplished sprint car racers of the present, the United States Auto Club recognizes numerous other sprint car racing series.

Visit: for additional details on the sprint car racing calendar and sprint car racing schedule.

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