How Much Do NASCAR Cars Weigh? (Why Weight Matters)

Share this article

Like any sport where size or lack thereof can pose an advantage, NASCAR cars must meet a certain minimum weight to be cleared to go racing. Failing to meet that particular weight can result in a potential advantage. So, you might wonder how much NASCAR cars weigh and why weight is so important. 

NASCAR cars weigh 3,200 lb (1,452 kg) without the driver or fuel. However, this is just a standard for a 180 lb to 189 lb (82 kg to 86 kg) driver. NASCAR introduced a rule in 2015 that subtracts 10 lb (4.5 kg) from that total if the driver weighed more, and adds it if the driver weighs less. 

Below, we will discuss how heavy a NASCAR car is without the driver and fuel and with the driver and fuel in more detail. We will also touch on why weight matters in NASCAR, and explain how it can affect a car’s power-to-weight ratio, before elaborating on how much the average driver weighs. 

How Heavy Is A NASCAR Car?

NASCAR car weights are measured in two ways: The weight without the driver and fuel and weight with the driver and fuel. The weight without the driver and fuel is 3,200 lb (1,452 kg) and the cars must weigh this amount minimum or else they can fail inspection. With the driver and a full tank of fuel, NASCAR cars must weigh at least 3,400 lb (1,542 kg). 

However, what you see above is just the standard for a driver weighing between 180 lb to 189 lb (82 kg to 86 kg). There will be some variance in this, as not all NASCAR drivers weigh the same. Therefore, there is a sliding scale based on how heavy each individual car must be, so they will deviate from the 3,200 lb (1,542 kg) standard for most drivers. 

For the former Generation 6 cars, for example, the cars had to weigh at least 3,275 lb (1,486 kg) if that driver weighed 180 lb to 189 lb (82 kg to 86 kg). The Next Gen car must weigh at least 3,400 lb (1,542 kg) with a driver of that same bodyweight range

However, if the driver weighs between 190 lb and 199 lb (86 kg to 90 kg), then they can take 10 lb (4.5 kg) off the car without the driver or fuel included. This is done so that lighter drivers may not gain an unfair advantage over their heavier counterparts. This sliding scale was first used during the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series Season. 

Driver WeightCar Weight Without Fuel Or The Driver
139 lb or less (63 kg)3,250 lb (1,474 kg)
140 lb to 149 lb (64 kg to 68 kg)3,240 lb (1,470 kg)
150 lb to 159 lb (68 kg to 72 kg)3,230 lb (1,465 kg)
160 lb to 169 lb (73 kg to 77 kg)3,220 lb (1,461 kg)
170 lb to 179 lb (77 kg to 81 kg)3,210 lb (1,456 kg)
180 lb to 189 lb (82 kg to 86 kg)3,200 lb (1,452 kg)
190 lb to 199 lb (86 kg to 90 kg)3,190 lb (1,447 kg)
200 lb to 209 lb (91 kg to 95 kg)3,180 lb (1,443 kg)
210 lb to 219 lb (95 kg to 99 kg)3,170 lb (1,438 kg)
220 lb or more (100 kg to 104 kg)3,160 lb (1,433 kg)

How Much Do NASCAR Xfinity Cars Weigh?

NASCAR Xfinity cars weigh 3,100 lb (1,406 kg) without the driver or fuel, and 3,300 lb (1,500 kg) with the driver and fuel. Xfinity cars use a sliding scale of minimum weight depending on driver weight, and if the driver is lighter than average, their car’s minimum weight increases to compensate.

How Much Do NASCAR Trucks Weigh?

NASCAR trucks must weigh at least 3,200 lb (1,452 kg) for a driver weighing between 180 lb and 189 lb (82 kg to 86 kg). They must also weigh 3,400 lb (1,542 kg) with the driver and fuel. For drivers weighing more, such as 190 lb (86 kg), the truck will weigh 10 lb (4.5 kg) less, and vice versa.

KEY POINTS

• NASCAR cars weigh about 3,200 lbs, or 1,452 kg

• There are minimum weight limits imposed to ensure a level playing field

• NASCAR Xfinity cars are lighter than Cup Series cars, but the trucks weigh about the same as the Cup cars

Why Does Weight Matter In NASCAR?

Weight matters in NASCAR because the lighter the car, the faster it can theoretically go. While there is lesser emphasis on this during the earlier stages of the race, it becomes highly important during the final stage, when cars begin battling for the win on low fuel. 

You may have seen pit stops occur where drivers are heading into the pits for a fuel only pit stop. This means they are not opting for a four-tire, or even a two-tire change, as the tires have enough tread and speed to finish the race, but they may not have enough fuel

Fuel Management

If they add too much fuel, and therefore, too much weight, it can slow the car. But if they add just enough fuel, per the team’s calculations, to get the car over the start-finish line at the checkered flag, then they must keep the car as light as possible to help ensure it is as fast as possible. It’s not uncommon to see some drivers run out of fuel on the final lap because of a miscalculation. 

Power To Weight Ratio

Power to weight ratio also dictates speed. Take the Generation 6 NASCAR car, whose horsepower once ran at around 750 during its earlier days. It had a power to weight ratio of 0.233 hp/lb (0.513 hp/kg). 

Compare that to a much lighter but also more powerful Formula 1 car, which weighs about half as much as a NASCAR car and has 1000+ HP. Their power to weight ratio rests at about 0.5 hp/lb (1.1 hp/kg). The lighter Formula 1 car is faster than both the Generation 6 car and the Next Gen car because of its far greater power to weight ratio. 

Therefore, NASCAR cars must reach a minimum weight because higher power to weight ratio would give lighter cars an advantage over the competition if the car was lighter than minimum. Throughout the 21st century, NASCAR has been adamant on ensuring as equal of a playing field as possible. 

What Is A NASCAR Car’s Power To Weight Ratio? 

A NASCAR car’s power to weight ratio is about 0.209 hp/lb (0.461 hp/kg). This is for a car weighing the standard 3,200 lb (1,452 kg) at 670 horsepower. For the 510 HP package, this ratio is even smaller. It sits at 0.159 hp/lb (0.350 hp/kg). 

The NASCAR Next Gen car has two horsepower packages: 670 horsepower for almost all intermediate and short tracks, plus road courses, and a 510 horsepower package. Therefore, they will have two standard power to weight ratios. 

KEY POINTS

• Weight is important in all forms of racing, and NASCAR is no exception

• Higher power to weight ratios usually mean faster cars

• NASCAR Cup cars have power to weight ratios of about 0.159 to 0.209 hp/lb depending on the package

How Much Do NASCAR Drivers Weigh?

In NASCAR, the drivers all have varying weights, and that’s why there is a sliding scale regarding how much NASCAR cars must weigh. Most of the drivers weigh between 150 lb and 180 lb (68 kg to 82 kg). As mentioned in the first section, there can be some variance to this. For example, Danica Patrick weighed just 100 lb (45 kg) during her career. 

There have also been heavier drivers, like Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, who during their careers weighed at least 180 lb (82 kg). Most drivers are a bit lighter than this, with the average weight clocking in at 162 lb (73 kg). One reason for their lower weights has more to do with general health and fitness as opposed to going faster on the track. 

This is because since the 1990s, when Mark Martin and Ernie Irvan adopted serious fitness regimens, drivers realized they could better withstand the physical demands of being in a NASCAR car for an extended period. Martin credited his fitness for allowing him to compete at a high level into his fifties, while Irvan credited it with his miraculous comeback in 1995. 

Final Thoughts

NASCAR cars must weigh at least 3,200 lb (1,452 kg) for a 180 lb (82 kg) driver without the driver or fuel. However, this number can be higher or lower for drivers weighing less or more than 180 lb (82 kg). This rule keeps the playing field equal to prevent lighter drivers from gaining advantages.