Want to send someone on a wild goose chase? Tell them to go online and find a complete copy of the current NASCAR rule book. After all, NASCAR has rules and everything is online these days, right? Good luck with that.
You cannot find the complete NASCAR rules online, or anywhere for that matter, unless you are a team racing in NASCAR. And apparently, those with access to the forbidden book of rules are told to not share it with those who are not in the NASCAR world. You can find SOME rules online and NASCAR sometimes publicizes the more important rule changes. But the nitty-gritty details? Those are top secret.
It wasn’t always this way. The NASCAR Rule Book used to be widely available. Then again, they used to race actual stock cars too. Times have changed. The “1969 NASCAR International Stock Car Racing Rule Book,” as it was called, cost $1.50 and ran 90 pages if you count the inside back cover with its schematic of the official “Tire Measuring Device.” The pages are only four by six inches and only the first 45 pages applied to the Grand National division. I suspect the modern rulebook is about as thick as an old phonebook, if it were printed and bound.
Even so, the old rule book shows us a glimpse into less complicated times. In 1969, the NASCAR membership fee: $25. Members could confirm by telegram that their entry fees were received at NASCAR headquarters but the telegrams could not be sent collect. NASCAR reserved the right to inspect cars at any time and the method and type of inspection was at the sole discretion of NASCAR. Some things never change, apparently.
What cars were legal to race in 1969? Any of the following models: The AMC Rebel, Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile F-85, and Pontiac Tempest. Seriously, those cars were allowed to race in case you couldn’t get your hands on the cars which actually were competitive, like the Dodge Charger, Plymouth RoadRunner and the Ford Fairlane.
And that gets us to the meat and potatoes of stock car racing. In 1969, the races were open to “steel bodied 1967, 1968, 1969 models of American-made passenger car production sedans available to the general public.” Likewise, “It is mandatory that a street version engine be produced by the manufacturer as a regular production option for installation and sale to the public in a regular product offering, and that 500 of the type car and engine must be available to the public before it will be eligible for competition.” I can’t imagine how the modern day corresponding rule reads.
Then again, it was that rule which led Chrysler to sell its 426 Hemi to the public. By selling 500 to the guys on the street, drivers with Chrysler rides could race them in NASCAR. Likewise with the 1969 Charger 500 and the 1969 Charger Daytona. Sell 500 to the public – or tell NASCAR that you did – and the teams could race them.
In 1970, NASCAR was forced to change this rule in an attempt to raise the bar and force the companies to sell even more of a specific model to qualify for racing. And when Plymouth built and sold 1,920 Superbirds NASCAR realized that some of their rules needed to be completely rewritten. Exotic cars built specifically to race – and sold publicly as an afterthought – would be outlawed. From that point forward, NASCAR would keep a tight rein on what the cars would look like that raced on its tracks. And NASCAR would stop making the rule books widely available.
Steve Lehto is a writer and from Michigan. He specializes in Lemon Law and frequently writes about cars and the law. His most recent books include , and . He also has a where he talks about these things