As a NASCAR fan you may be curious about how much money goes into building the cars that you see out on the track. There are many expensive components that go into these vehicles, which can leave many fans wondering just how much a NASCAR car costs.
It costs at least $181,000 and up to $344,000 to build a NASCAR car. The cost increases as the car becomes more competitive, as you will need top-notch parts that meet specific standards. Tires, insurance, and maintenance further increase the cost of a NASCAR car.
As you can see, there is an immense amount of money going into these cars. To fully understand the costs of a NASCAR car, you must look at the various contributing components. Below, we break down the various costs and explore the expenses of a full season.
How much it costs to make a NASCAR Cup car depends on whether you are starting from scratch and if you are able to attain sponsors, but the number is somewhere between $180,000 and $350,000. With sponsors, you could end up paying very little out of pocket.
You must consider the required parts and their individual costs. Though the cost may not appear to be much at first, it’s important to remember you must build NASCAR Cup cars with the highest-quality parts available if you want the car to be competitive. High-quality parts are going to run up the cost.
A NASCAR engine can cost between $60,000 and $150,000. NASCAR engines must be able to withstand the extreme temperatures and speeds that they will be exposed to. Therefore, the engine will be made up of high-quality, extra durable parts that tend to be expensive.
Remember, NASCAR engines must run at over 600 horsepower, which makes them capable of reaching speeds up to and sometimes over 200 miles per hour. Most engines cannot do this and are therefore far cheaper than NASCAR engines. These engines also eclipse their street-legal counterparts in size at 5.86 liters, or 358 cubic inches.
You also need to factor in the engine’s intake and exhaust, which must be designed to withstand a NASCAR car’s higher speeds and power requirements. NASCAR engines run not just at high speeds, but also high temperatures. Every part within the engine must withstand both.
This includes alternators, plus coolant, oil, and pumps. Add in augmented cam profiles to allow the engine to keep its intake valves open longer, and you can realize why NASCAR engines cost multiple times more than those seen in your everyday road car.
NASCAR’s engine specifications require all engines, whether designed by Chevrolet, Ford, or Toyota, to follow specific criteria. The engines must not hold unfair advantages and must also meet a minimum threshold, so they remain competitive on the track.
For a NASCAR Cup car, engines can be no larger than 358 cubic inches. Each engine’s compression ratio must be 12:1. NASCAR also requires their engines to have eight cylinders. The mandated specifications help keep costs within the $60,000 to $150,000 range. Without these rules, manufacturers would find new, expensive ways to get ahead of competition, naturally raising production costs.
NASCAR tires cost an average of $20,000 per event and a maximum of around $780,000 for an entire season. Most teams lease tires through Goodyear rather than buy them. The cost adds up quickly throughout a 39-event season with 36 regular season races.
Per race, four Goodyear Eagles will cost between $1,400 and $2,000, or between $350 and $500 per tire. Now, you need to anticipate between 4 to 12 pit stops featuring four-tire changes in a single event. It is always good to plan and bring more than what you need to the track in the event of any unforeseen incidents, and this all adds up to around $20,000 per event.
A NASCAR chassis costs between $70,000 and $120,000. The chassis, also known as the frame or roll cage, acts as the car’s skeleton and features many of the safety components. It is considered the most important part because everything connects to it. Therefore, quality is of utmost importance.
The most important parts of a NASCAR chassis include a rear bumper assembly, a rear subframe, the center assembly that holds the driver’s cockpit, the front subframe, and front subframe assembly. Like the engines, the chassis also has specifications to meet. Specifications vary as NASCAR hauls out new car designs, and this usually occurs one every 6 to 15 seasons.
The chassis will normally cost a maximum of $120,000, however prices can be as low as $70,000. Usually, with the higher price, you are paying for the ability of customizations and upgrades, ensuring they conform to NASCAR’s specifications. The lower price will not grant as many luxuries.
NASCAR cars may bear resemblance to street-legal counterparts, but their anatomical parts are nowhere near the same. One look under the hood and you realize you are dealing with an entirely different case. However, engine size and power are just two components of many that contribute to high prices. NASCAR cars are made using top-notch materials for the purpose of safety and performance upgrades.
These cars are also not built on assembly lines. Instead, a team of builders, specialists, and engineers build them to perform at maximum capacity. They can only use high-quality material that NASCAR approves to bring about the best safety and performance capability.
With new technological developments always in the making, NASCAR cars will continue to evolve. One side-effect of that evolution means the cost of building a NASCAR car will inevitably rise. However, with those higher costs comes a more entertaining product on the track with even greater safety enhancements.
When you add up the total cost, you will spend a minimum of around $180,000. However, the cheapest ride is not the best option for long-term success. Take maintenance costs on a week-to-week basis that may run up to the original amount you paid for the car, and it could cost as much as $7,000,000 to run all 39 races on the schedule for a single season once you factor in fuel and other components.
The higher amount may not be feasible if you are forking out 100% of the funds. A NASCAR Cup car built with top-notch equipment costs roughly $344,000. The costs include the engine, chassis, and 12 sets of tires for a single race at the highest prices. Multiply $344,000 by 39 and the cost is more than $13 million to run a car for an entire season, which includes only the maintenance of the car.
The cost of building a NASCAR car is hefty, but fortunately, you can save money in your endeavors by attaining sponsors to help you cover the costs. However, it can be difficult to find sponsors who are willing to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars to new and unproven teams.
Remember, sponsors are displaying their name and logo on your hood, doors, and rear bumper. The better your car performs, the more they will get a return on their investment because potential customers are seeing your car as opposed to those riding at the back of the pack.
One alternative to attaining sponsorship is to find a group of investors who have always wanted to own a piece of a NASCAR team. They can help with the costs of building the best possible car if they believe that such an endeavor will give them a sound return on their investment.
The best way to convince sponsors to put their name, logo, and colors on your hood is to prove you have a product worth sponsoring.This is the main reason you shouldn’t sacrifice quality for lower costs.The better the car’s proposed quality, the more likely you are to attract sponsors and investors.
These sponsors won’t be your local mom and pop shops. Many NASCAR sponsors are on the Fortune 500 list of the largest US companies.Even if you have a sponsor that is not on such a prestigious list, they could help you cover most if not all the costs of building and maintaining your car.
The better your car finishes, the more sponsors you will attract. If you attract enough sponsors for the car, you can then invest in a second ride or even a backup car. So, although a NASCAR car costs several hundred thousand dollars to build, investing closer to the higher threshold could reign in lucrative sponsors.
Before NASCAR introduced the chartered system, you often saw cars competing without sponsors. Many of these cars were start and park rides who ran only a few laps per race before they parked their ride and collected bottom-tier prize money.
This was a controversial practice that fans frowned upon because they knew the unsponsored car was purposely relinquishing its qualifying position and had no intention of competing. They primarily did this to provide maintenance and upgrades to these underfunded rides.
Since 2016, starting and parking has been phased out. It may still occur at lower levels of NASCAR, but with the chartered system in place, it is very rare. Your best bet is to find sponsors or investors if you don’t have enough money to set aside for building and maintaining the car.
Now that you know how much it costs to build a NASCAR car, you also need to be aware of other costs if you want to haul it around the country and enter it into races. Before anything else, you need a garage area or shop to build and maintain the car, which can quickly eat into your budget.
You also need to pay for a labor force to build the car. This consists of mechanics and specialists who work exclusively in engineering, aerodynamics, and tires. On top of the builders, you will also need a pit crew, a crew chief, and a spotter.
Additionally, you need to set money aside for travel expenses for both your team and the truck that will haul your car and its equipment. As you can see, the cost of building the car far exceeds just the costs of the materials. However, if you enter events, every lap and successful finish will help you recoup these losses, even with limited sponsorships and investors.
A NASCAR car can cost anywhere from $180,000 to $344,000 to build, with additional costs for tires and maintenance not factored in here. The cars are built with high-quality materials to meet NASCAR’s safety and performance specifications. The costs over the season are in the millions of dollars.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.