Sprint Car 101: What Are Those Funny Looking Cars?


If you’re not familiar with sprint car racing, you may be asking yourself, “what is it and why do the cars look so funny?” Here’s a little information about those wing-topped cars that race on dirt tracks. (At the bottom of the post you can enter for your chance to win a trip to one of this year’s World of Outlaws races around the country.)

Sprint cars weigh less that 1,500 pounds (including the driver!) and have about 900 horsepower behind them. Compare that to the car in your driveway, which probably weighs around 3,000 pounds and is driven by about 120 horsepower. In other words, these light by mighty little cars are full of go!

So what’s up with that wing-like thing on top of the car? As sprint car racer Greg Wilson explains in the video below, that’s actually an upside down airplane wing affixed to the top of the car. And drivers use that wing to help control the vehicle. For example, they can move the wing back to plant the rear tires and help the sprint car corner faster. Or, as Greg refers to it, “lay left.”

The wing may be one of the most utilized parts of the sprint car, but other parts are just as unique. Take the back tires. It may be hard to notice when the cars are whizzing around the track but the back tires are different sizes. Wilson explains that these are called “staggered” tires and that the difference in size can vary from race to race, depending on track conditions.

Unlike that car in your garage, sprint cars have no starters and just two gears: neutral and go. At races, you’ll see that a push vehicle literally gets the cars moving. And then it’s up to the driver to shift the car from neutral and into gear. When it’s time to stop, the driver pops the car out of gear and then kills the engine.

There’s a lot more to learn about the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series in the video above. And now that you know the ins and outs of sprint cars, use the form below to enter for a chance to win a trip to one of the upcoming races to see the sprint cars in action.