NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The term ‘stock car’ is the one to focus one. By definition, stock cars are regular production-based automobiles used in road racing. All the cars you see going well over 200 mph in the oval come from the factories of passenger car manufacturers like Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyota.
However, that doesn’t make NASCAR cars street legal. They might be based on real factory cars, but they are heavily modified to perform well inside the oval, not on the street. These cars can’t even turn right!
Still, it wasn’t always like that. In the early days of NASCAR, showroom cars were used in the races, albeit with many modifications. Today, NASCAR cars use production cars only as a starting point. New features are added to make them perform better in the race. At the same time, some features that aren’t necessary in high-speed racing are dropped. As a result, NASCAR cars don’t tick all the boxes to be labeled street legal.
Are There Any NASCAR Cars That Are Street Legal?
There are two major stock-car racing series in NASCAR – Cup Series and Xfinity Series. Each of these two features 40 cars per race. In addition, there are several other sanctioned series organized under the helm of NASCAR, e.g. Whelen All-American Series, Pinty’s Series, etc.
None of the cars from any of the NASCAR series is even remotely street legal. They just don’t meet the requirements set up by the Department of Transportation (DOP). The most obvious thing they lack is the ability to turn right, but that’s just the beginning.
NASCAR cars also lack proper doors. The doors on these cars are sealed, with no hinged parts that could fall off in a crash. They also miss brake lights, turn signal, and headlamps. Even the windows on NASCAR cars aren’t made of real glass but of Lexan.
Then, there are some issues regarding the engine. First of all, it’s way too loud to drive it around a city. The noise level one such car makes is over 100 decibels. In comparison, the noise a jet engine at 100 feet distance makes is ~130 decibels. Apart from lacking a muffler that would reduce the noise, the engine of NASCAR cars is also missing the gear that would reduce CO2 emissions.
Finally, these cars also don’t use the same type of tires as regular passenger vehicles. As a result, not only would they damage the roads, but they would be extremely difficult to control.
Making a NASCAR Car Street-Legal
You can make a NASCAR car street-legal on your own, of course, if you actually own one such vehicle. If you don’t own it, you’ll probably need to spend tens of thousands to buy it. Still, this is only true if you are lucky enough to come across one such offer.
To make a NASCAR stock car street legal, you need spend a lot of time, energy, and of course, a lot of money. Some of the modifications you need to make include the following:
- Rebalancing the chassis
- Installing a new exhaust system
- Adjusting brake bias
- Replacing shock and spring rates
- Installing new suspension geometry
The tasks in the list represent just the tip of the iceberg. Converting a NASCAR to a street-legal passenger car takes much more than that. The worst thing is that, depending on where you live, you might not even be allowed to make those modifications on your own. Instead, you might have to pay a registered car service to take care of all the work for you.
This brings out the question of why not buy a NASCAR car that’s already been made street legal?
Buying a Street Legit NASCAR Car
In some states, the regulations that decide whet’s street legal and what’s not are pretty slack. Mississippi is one of them, judging by the experiences of YouTuber Cleetus McFarland, who got himself a real NASCAR truck that its previous owner made legal for use on the street.
Finding a similar deal might not be that easy, considering that the owners of street-legal NASCAR vehicles are usually very reluctant to part ways with them. Still, if you’re patient enough, you will probably run into at least one such offer.
If you’re not a patient type of person, there is an option you might be interested in. Instead of making a passenger car out of a racing beast, you can do just the opposite. There are many companies all over the country that will pimp your ride to make it NASCAR-like.
Tuning Your Car to Give a NASCAR Vibe
The year is 2020 and the car NASCAR uses in the Cup Series still belongs to Generation 6, same as in the past seven years. This car type has been used since 2013, when the organization decided to ditch the previous design dubbed the ‘Car of Tomorrow’. One of the reasons why NASCAR decided on this move was to make its racing cars look more like their street-legal versions. In 2021 NASCAR announced that is adding the Circuit of the Americas in Austin which will make things more interesting in the upcoming season.
If you take a look at a brand-new Mustang GT sold in your local dealership, you will notice that its design doesn’t differ much from the one of the Mustang used for NASCAR Cup Series. What differs is their price. A new V8-powered Mustang GT can be found for less than $40,000. It is basically the same story when it comes to other cars used in NASCAR, including Chevy Impala, Camaro, Toyota Camry, etc.
By investing a couple of grand in addition, you can give your car a NASCAR feel. To do that, you just need to take it to your local car tuning shop. They might not be able to turn your car into a competitive piece of machinery, but the guys from a tuning company can certainly make it look like one.
The best part of it is that you’ll be able to actually drive it once they’re done with it. Your NASCAR replica will remain a street-legal vehicle.