Why do they call them "stock cars"?

Why do they call them “stock” cars? I mean the cars used in the races popular in the US such as NASCAR, where they look like ordinary street cars.

What does the “stock” in “stock car” mean? I once had the mistaken impression that stock car races involved cars taken straight from the dealer’s showroom floor. But I just had a close-up look at a NASCAR car recently, and it was anything but “stock”. The most striking difference that I was was the interior - all the upholstry was removed, the dashboard was completely customized, and there was a roll cage. I don’t think there was even a proper door. I also understand that the engine is radically different from an ordinary street vehicle.

So what gives? Are the stock car racing organizations duping us? Or does the word “stock” mean something totally different in this context?

Although heavily modified, they are recognisable as the same sort of cars you would drive on the road (“stock” meaning “standard” in this context).

Compare that to Formula 1 cars which bear no resemblance to anything you would buy in a car dealership or drive on the road.

What is stock in a stock car?
Not much. As Alive At Both Ends said they appear to be a showroom model.
Even back in the day the engines were not stock, but may other parts were. As time went on in the quest for more speed less and less of the car remained stock.
Back in 1984 I worked for a factory off road racing team. We build a off road race truck for a particular racing series. When it was done I counted up the totally stock parts.
Guess how many there were. Go ahead Guess.

Wait for it.

  1. Out of the whole truck there were 3 totally stock non-modified parts. They were
  2. The emblem on the grill.
  3. The taillight assemblies
  4. The brake fluid reservoir. (the only reason this one got on was we needed a reservoir, and I had a stock one laying around in the back.)

NASCAR vehicles were indeed based on production vehicles at one time, but requirements for good aerodynamics at 190+ MPH, driver protection and NASCAR.s general philospophy of keeping competition as even as possible, mean that the cars have been specialized racing vehicles with essentially no ‘stock’ components, for many years. IIRC, until a few years ago the sanctioning body still required that the trunk lid be a stock part, but that was about it, and I believe even that requirement has been dropped.

Current NASCAR raciing vehicles (there are three major series, two for cars, one for trucks) are all specially-built racing chassis, with custom-built engines and bodies that, while they appear similar to those of production sedans, are custom-built as well. In the senior series (Nextel Cup) the ‘Fords’, ‘Chevies’ and ‘Dodges’ all share the same body profile, with different nose and tail caps. Next year, a new, more boxy NASCAR-mandated body, called the ‘Car of Tomorrow’, will start to replace the current styles.

In the early days of stock car racing there is the story of some driver who rented a car from a dealership for the weekend, drove it to the race, won, and returned it to the dealership. Cars were pretty much stock, with minor safety modifications, but obviously that is no longer the case.

So why call it Stock Car racing? Same reason they still have Carburation Day at the Indy 500 when no cars have carburators; Tradition.

I don’t think it’s any big secret that NASCAR stock cars are anything remotely close to what you’d buy from the manufacturer.
However, there are those guys out there who will buy a Chevy over a Ford using the logic that “Chevy’s win more often in NASCAR races, therefore Chevy makes a better car, I will now go buy me a Chevy.”

The S.C.C.A. has a racing class called “Showroom Stock” wherein the cars are essentially what you can buy from a dealership. This is amateur/hobby racing and I imagine if it’s on TV at all, it’s somewhat obscure compared to NASCAR

The SCCA has a class called “Showroom Stock” wherein the cars are essentially what you can buy from a dealership. This is amateur/hobby racing and I imagine if it’s on TV at all, the coverage is limited to specialty channels.

[tangent]Reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) story told by The Car Guys where a woman had her sporty car in the shop for repairs, and it seemed like it was taking way longer than it should have. One night her husband took her to a local stock car race where she saw her car being raced by the mechanic.[/tangent]

Back when I was a young pup living in LA, in 1949, there were indeed stock car races. The winners had to have the engine taken apart and a micrometer used to be sure nothing had been modified, that it was indeed "stock).

In those days it was the Hudson Hornets that were beataing everybody else on the tracks. Lord, how i wanted one of those bloated but fast Hornets.

NASCAR’s roots are in the illegal whiskey business. Moonshine delivery drivers would race their hopped-up cars against each other, mostly for fun and bragging rights. Sunday’s race car would be hauling whiskey again on Monday. It didn’t take long for Bill France and some other smart cookies to see there was money to be made, and NASCAR was born.

In the first few years, the cars were actually made from run-of-the-mill cars. The upholstery was stripped out, roll bars were added, and the engine and suspension was tricked out, but the frame and body of an Oldsmobile racer were stock, down to the chrome trim. For a model to be eligible for NASCAR, at least 200 had to be made. Body parts were acid-dipped to make them lighter, but a Ford’s fender actually came from Ford.

Now, all the bodies are hand made, but they still have to match templates taken from the street model. Headlights are stickers printed to look like lights. Big air dams and spoilers are added, with tight specs on size and angle. Inside the skin, though, it’s a full-out race car, and the only thing in there that came from a stock car is the engine block. There’s a strange throwback, though. Even though every car on the street is now fuel-injected, NASCAR requires carburetors on the racers.

I’d watch that.

Between the round tracks and the completely misnamed “stock cars”, I don’t think much of stock car racing.

But I guess the engine block isn’t necessarily from the car the “stock car” is supposed to represent though? Like the Dodge Intrepid, they weren’t even offered with a V8. And the Ford Taurus was only offered with a small V8.

Holy crap! I was right next to one and I never saw this. :smack: I’m looking at pictures now, and it’s clear as day, they’re stickers.

If nothing else, this makes them look more like cheap toy cars to me, now.

It does add to the “fake” factor, but if cars race with real glass headlights, they have to be taped up to prevent the pieces from getting all over the place if they get broken. Not sure if that would be as much of a problem with the plastic headlights nowdays though.

Pretty much No, it’s not. Further, in the Taurus for example, they took a front-wheel drive car and made it into a rear-wheel drive car. Think, “Image Only.”

You remind me of 1966, when Hertz rented special Shelby GT-350s. They only did it for a year. I think it was because (1) Too many people were renting them for the weekend and kicking butt in SCCA events; and (2) Some folk would take said GT-350H and swap its engine with the stock 289 in their Mustangs.

Ahh, the memories.

You’re right about that. NASCAR’s engines are limited to a certain size (350 cubic inches?) and they’re all that size, even if that model is available with a smaller, or bigger mill. It was even sillier when some cars, in street trim, had front wheel drive and a sideways engine. The Intrepid racer’s engine was based on a Dodge truck’s engine, and the Taurus racer’s engine was lifted from the cop’s favorite, the Crown Victoria.

As El Kabong mentioned, the “Car Of Tomorrow” will be mandated in a few years. The bodies will be standardized in all brands, although there will be allowances for brand identification. There’ll be no openings in the front; all cooling air will be drawn from underneath, so that front end damage will not mess up cooling. The driver will be closer to the centerline for safety. The exhaust pipes will be rerouted to avoid cooking the driver’s feet. The oil and fuel pumps will be changed for fire safety.

I just noticed this. Are all NASCAR racing vehicles based strictly on US models (ignoring Chevrolet’s owners for a moment), or are there any European- or Asian-based vehicles in the mix?

All of the cars in the Nextel Cup series are based on models from the Big Three American auto companies, although Dodge is now part of Daimler-Chrysler, so it’s arguable that there is some European involvement.

Toyota already has several vehicles in the Craftsman truck series, and is working on plans (cars, teams and drivers) to have Toyota-badged cars in Nextel Cup beginning next season.

There have been questions as to how well this will go over with the traditional Nascar fans.

This rule was tossed prior to the 2000 season. NASCAR has evolved into a common template car, the cars are identical between the front cowl to just forward of the rear bumper. This year the Craftsman truck series started using a common template, the trucks are identical from the cowl aft.

A few other tidbits of info. Up till the 2001 season, NASCAR required a stock floor pan in all the cars, the only one used since the early 70’s was made from the tooling for the 66 Ford Galaxie. Hutcherson-Pagan was given the tooling by Ford and they made thousands over the years just for race cars.

The steel body used by NASCAR in many of it’s divisions will be a thing of the past in the next 5 to 7 years. Beginning this season in the AutoZone Grand National West and East series, which current stars Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. competed in, will use a composite body. It is a combination of carbon fiber in the cockpit area and the rest reinforce fiberglass. The Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Grand National series are expected to follow by 2009 and the Nextel Cup (to be called the Bank Of America Cup by then) series by 2010 or 2011. The Busch series is also expected to move away from cars that currently resemble thier Cup big brothers and will go with pony car styled bodies, such as the current Ford Mustang and the new to be released in the future Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger. There is also talk of a new truck series using the midsize Ranger, Colorado and Dakota and a small, about 280 cubic inch, V8 engine.