How much do you know about stock car racing?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

The rivalries, the feuds, the spectacular crashes, the close finishes -- there's a reason why NASCAR holds a special place in American sports! Now, test your knowledge of this uniquely American pastime with our quiz!

The word "stock" refers to what?

Nowadays, stock cars aren't very "stock." They are modified quite extensively, both for speed and safety.

In what illicit activity does stock car racing have its roots?

Bootleggers' cars had to be fast, to outrun revenuers, but also had to look inconspicuous on the outside. Like men have done for centuries with fast horses, bootleggers eventually wanted to race these cars against each other, to prove who had the best. One of NASCAR'S biggest early stars, Junior Johnson, served time in his youth for owning a still -- but was never actually caught transporting liquor.

Which direction does a stock car turn during a race?

As in horse racing, stock cars run on an oval track and make only left turns. This might seem obvious, but first-time drivers like Top Gear's Richard​ Hammond, for example, expressed surprise that the car resists driving in a straight line; it "wants" to go left.

What does a restrictor plate do?

Restrictor plates on the carburetors of faster cars created greater equality on the race track,. This innovation made stock car races more about the skill of the drivers than the output of the engine. Safety was another concern restrictor plates addressed.

In what decade was NASCAR formed?

NASCAR was created in 1948, years after the end of Prohibition. For this reason, bootlegging was on the wane.

Who created NASCAR?

"Big Bill" France wanted rules in place for the sport, mostly to keep shifty promoters from cheating drivers. For decades, France ran NASCAR with an iron fist.

Who died in a final-lap collision at the 2001 Daytona 500?

Earnhardt's death was all the more shocking to fans because the collision looked fairly minor, especially in a sport that sees drivers walk away from spectacular midair-flip crashes. But Earnhardt suffered blunt force head trauma which proved unsurvivable.

Which of these is NOT a stock-car racing venue?

Hialeah was a horse-racing venue in Miami; it's now defunct except for some quarter-horse races. Daytona and Talladega's speedways are probably the two most famous in stock-car racing.

For what is Wendell Scott known?

Wendell Scott was not announced the winner at the time; the second-place finisher, who was white, was. This "error" was eventually corrected. Scott was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015.

What year saw the first live national coverage of a complete NASCAR race?

CBS aired the Daytona 500 that year. A fistfight between two racers added a bit of viewer excitement, and more "flag to flag" coverage followed.

What is "downforce"?

"Downforce" is essentially invisible forces pressing down on the car when it's in motion, the same way invisible force under the wing of a plane lifts it up. Adequate downforce is essential for stability through turns, but too much can create unwanted drag on the car.

Who drives the No. 10 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing?

Patrick has made waves in the world of racing, finishing 3rd in the Indianapolis 500 and eighth in the Daytona 500. Since a car's weight (including its driver) is one key to winning races, we'd expect more women like the 100-pound Patrick to do well in the sport.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the opposite of an independent driver was a _____ driver.

"Factory" drivers raced cars for the big automakers, like Ford and Chrysler. Well-funded and equipped, they had an almost unshakable advantage over independent drivers.

Which NASCAR driver was the subject of the movie "Great Balls of Fire"?

Yes, it's misleading -- Roberts seems like the obvious choice, but "Great Balls of Fire" was a fictionalization of Junior Johnson's remarkable life. Jeff Bridges played the bootlegger-turned-racer.

Alabama International Motor Speedway is now better known as what?

Built on an old Air Force Base, Talladega is the largest NASCAR oval track. The track's length and racing conditions allow for speeds higher than 200 mph.

What did NASCAR head, Bill France Sr., ban in 1965?

Chrysler's powerful hemi engine gave Richard Petty an advantage over the competition that was perceived to be unfair. Chrysler objected to the ban and responded with a boycott of NASCAR.

What is "stagger"?

In oval track racing, having the right-side tire be slightly larger than the left is an advantage. It allows the outside and inside wheels to rotate symmetrically with each other through the turns. This (onetime) secret advantage came from the world of Indy racing and is now common in NASCAR.

About what did driver Curtis Turner and Bill France Sr. clash in the early 1960s?

Turner, who built Charlotte Motor Speedway, lost this battle pretty decisively. He was banned from the sport, as was his lone supporter, Tim Flock. The (supposedly lifetime) ban was lifted four years later.

Which NASCAR legend was known as "the Intimidator"?

Dale Earnhardt Sr. is probably the one name that non-NASCAR fans immediately recognize. His son has the much-less-cool nickname of "Little E," but since it's a homage to his late father, he probably doesn't mind.

How many Grand Nationals did Lee Petty win?

Lee Petty began racing in NASCAR in 1949. He was so competitive that he once complained about a scoring error and took the win away from his own son, Richard!

How many career wins did Richard Petty amass?

No one else has even come close. Petty, part of a family of NASCAR royalty, retired with seven NASCAR championships.

What was a key reason that tobacco company, RJ Reynolds, became a major sponsor in NASCAR?

In 1970, the US Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, and cigarette makers could no longer advertise on TV. Unable to sponsor variety shows or game shows as they'd once done, R.J. Reynolds bought the naming rights to the Grand National Series, and from 1971 to 2003, it was known as the "Winston Cup."

What is the Winston Cup Series now known as?

Monster Energy Drinks is the current sponsor, but that could change. It's unlikely, though, that fast-fashion retailer H&M will ever want to sponsor the races ​unless there's a serious shift in demographics.

Which of these drivers is NOT tied for the most NASCAR Cup wins?

Junior Johnson was a legend, both as a racer and a designer of cars. He isn't, though, one of the three top-winning championship drivers.

Who was the first president to attend a NASCAR race while in office?

We know you wanted to guess Clinton here! -- but it was Ronald Reagan. He saw Richard Petty outrace Cale Yarborough at the Firecracker 400 in 1984. Reagan also pardoned NASCAR legend Junior Johnson for the bootlegging conviction he got at age 24.

Which driver broke Jimmie Johnson's streak of Cup wins?

Stewart performed this feat in 2011. He's also known for his promotion of Home Depot, who used the catchphrase, "Hey, Tony, we've got ladders," after Stewart complained that he was too heavy to be climbing fences to meet his fans after races.

Which of these drivers has NOT been on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

Scott has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has a street named after him in his hometown, and was played by Richard Pryor in a movie. However, he was never on the cover of America's biggest sports magazine.

Which racing family's hopes for a fourth-generation star ended with a fatal crash on a practice lap?

Adam Petty was the son of Kyle, grandson of Richard, and great-grandson of Lee Petty. Poised to become the next great driver in the clan, Adam died when a stuck throttle caused him to crash into a wall at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Which of these is/was NOT a stock car racer?

Castroneves is an Indy Car racer. If you were fooled by Louise Smith -- well, she competed in stock car racing's early years, and though her participation was a publicity stunt for the young, under-promoted sport, she acquitted herself pretty well on the track.

What is the closest UK equivalent to stock car racing?

Touring cars are modified production cars. On the UK hit "Top Gear," the hosts invite touring car drivers on the show when they want to arrange a race with a lot of car-to-car contact -- that is, mayhem and crashes.

Which NASCAR driver surprised fans by performing on "Dancing With the Stars"?

Waltrip, a two-time winner of the Daytona 500, did his lap around the dance floor in 2014. Not a natural dancer, Waltrip was nonetheless carried through to mid-season on the strength of viewer votes.

In 1999, NASCAR made a $1 billion deal with which two TV networks?

NASCAR has come a long way since it was a Sunday-afternoon entertainment in the rural South. Stock-car racing now often ranks as America's second-favorite sport, behind NFL football.

Which track is said to be cursed?

The legend is based on several deaths and serious injuries at Talladega, both on and off the track, as well as an incident of pre-race sabotage for which the saboteur was never found. Of course, a track that allows speeds of 200 miles per hour, plus the tendency of competitors in dangerous sports to be superstitious, is fertile ground for a "curse."

Junior Johnson now produces and promotes what product?

This is a case of "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Millennials will pay top dollar for "authentic" hard liquor, and moonshines like "Midnight Moon" are popular. Junior Johnson is part owner of the distillery that makes it.

The largest crash in NASCAR history involved how many cars?

There were a total of 68 cars on the track; 37 were vacuumed up into the giant wreck at the 1960 Daytona 500. Luckily, there were no serious injuries. You can see black-and-white video of the wreck on YouTube. Also on YouTube is the documentary,​ "American Stock: The Rise of NASCAR," which, among several other sources, was a great help in the writing of this quiz and is highly recommended if you want to learn more.

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