Like every major sporting series, NASCAR has rules and regulations that must be followed and adhered too. That comes as no surprise. Especially in such a famous and high profile, and dangerous, series as NASCAR. And the rules come in all aspects of the sport as well.
They range from quite simple things such as what clothes can be worn by team personnel and drivers, to what tools can be used and how cars can be worked on in a race. It isn’t quite on the level as Formula 1 or even IndyCar, but there are still many important rules that must be followed. By every employee.
Listed here are 20 of those rules. Some of them might seem a bit weird, a bit odd. But most of them certainly do make a lot of sense. And why wouldn’t they? Safety is a consideration behind a lot of these rules, and motorsport is a very dangerous game indeed.
20 NASCAR only pit guns
It used to be customary for NASCAR pit crews to use custom tools on their cars, ie not anything mandated by the sport and its stewards. These days though, to keep costs down and to maintain safety, tools such as the airguns must be standard, which also helps to level the playing field.
19 Clothes must not be ‘street clothes'
Street clothes simply means normal, everyday clothes. Whilst people from sponsors and TV presenters may wear suits, the majority of the paddock will wear team gear. Mostly that falls upon the drivers and team members to wear such clothing. This keeps the sponsors in full view, drivers even wearing their race suits and the like in interviews.
18 Bodywork can not be replaced
In Formula 1, if your car incurs front wing damage in a race then that can be replaced. Heck, we’ve even seen a couple of rear wing changes recently. In NASCAR though, damaged bodywork can not be replaced. This is why you often see tape lashed around worn off parts of the car. It’s also a lot quicker than repairing a whole side panel.
17 Only pit crew and driver may touch the car
This rules stands in a couple of racing series, but during pit stops no one other than the pit crew and the driver may touch the go. If NASCAR see’s anyone outside of that team working on the car, they will get suspicious and race results can be thrown into doubt and crew chiefs thrown out.
16 Never take tools away from the track
This may seem like an obvious rule, but it is there. No NASCAR employee can take their tools home with them. Perhaps the most obvious reason being that this could allow the tools to be modified to gain an advantage, whilst outwardly they may look the same when back at the track.
15 Drivers can’t swear on the radio
This is not a rule that is easily policed, for obvious reasons. Tempers and tension will rise high during the race. As such, drivers often swear. Luckily for TV, these can usually be bleeped out as long as the radio is not played out live. NASCAR wants to keep it as family-friendly as they possibly can.
14 Pit crew can’t simply watch the race
You might think that being a pit crew member in a race would be a great way to watch a race. Well, you’d be wrong. Pit crew can not simply lie around when not working on a car during a pit stop. They must do other jobs, check tire pressures, check tools are all working, etc. There will be some time to watch though.
13 The ‘arms-length’ rule
This is a controversial rule, as it isn’t easy to police and it seems a bit… picky. Tire changers on the pit crew must keep the wheel and the tire within an arm’s length during the pit stops. The rule has hardly gone down well, as theres now way to standardize the ‘arms length’ due to everyone being different.
12 Conflict is not allowed
Yeah, this is a rule but it doesn’t really seem to be one either. There won’t be a season that goes by without some form of conflict after a race between drivers and/or pit crew. It isn’t something the rules state you can do either. But, it happens anyway. NASCAR is famous for it. Series like F1 keep it a lot more professional in that sense.
11 Do not work on the car outside pit box
Unless a car has gone back to the garage for major repairs, the cars may not be worked on during a race outside of the pit box. If you have bodywork damage then that must be repaired in your pit stall, or a penalty will definitely be heading your team's way.
10 Right side tire to be changed first
This is one rule that started simply as a tradition. But it is now a major rule for pit stops. The crew will change the right-side tires first at a pitstop, allowing the crew to switch the left side quicker than they could be going the other way. Next time you watch a NASCAR race, watch this in action!
Perhaps obvious again, but no less important. A driver will be looking only to the flag tower on the main straight (or local flags at road courses), so no one from the pit crew or team can wave a flag that will confuse the driver. Aside from the obvious, you would certainly look stupid doing so.
8 Head and neck devices
EVERY driver must wear these. The Hans device is seen in pretty much every form of motorsport. Dubbed the head and neck support, it protects said parts during an accident. Absolutely vital, and more so in the wake of deaths such as Dale Earnhardt Sr. It was pioneered in the IndyCar series.
7 Rules of contact
Yeah, you’ve seen it in races. Contact is not quite disallowed. Of course, drivers wreck intentionally. See Matt Kenseth on Joey Logano in 2015. But that earned the former a penalty. Good old ‘rubbin’s racin’ is very much a part of NASCAR. And it probably always will be a part of NASCAR.
6 Helmets to be worn at all times
This will apply to drivers and pit crews. It is obvious that drivers must wear their helmets, but equally important for the pit crew as well. It might well save their lives. Even MotoGP, that has been lacking on this for a while, has mandated helmets for their pit crew now. A vitally important piece of equipment.
5 Only five pit crew
Only five pit crew employees may work on the car at any given time. You will often see four tire changers and a jackman going to work on the car, and the man on the fuel may only do the fuel as well. If that fuel gets ignited in any way well it certainly is not going to end well.
4 Private testing banned
Private testing was banned as recently as 2015. There are pre-season tests, as well as test sessions organized by NASCAR before certain races (see the ROVAL last year), but no private testing can be conducted by the teams. This certainly evens things out a bit, although the cream will usually rise to the top.
3 Drivers briefing must be attended
Driver briefings are important in any series. And NASCAR is no exception. Some might seem them as pointless, given that each driver and team member will know what they are doing every year but things may well have changed at certain tracks, so it is important that these meetings are attended by the right people.
2 Always wear the suits
Yes, always wear the suits. From drivers to the pit crew, those fire suits must always be worn. They probably are not the most pleasant things to wear on a hot day, but these are trained athletes. They can handle anything thrown at them. And for safety, they are vitally important. Especially of course, in a fire.
1 Team members must be kept track of
You must not allow a random team member to go over the wall during a pit stop. NASCAR will come down hard on any team that allows a random to go over the wall. Members can hang over and catch old tires that come off the car, but they must NOT go over that wall.