Ask a sports fan, and he or she can tell you that a favorite player looks OK just by looking at the driver. However, in NASCAR, teams of inspectors scour every inch of a winning car in open inspections after a race to make sure any adjustments made to that car are legal. In both NASCAR and amateur racing, teams make modifications on everything from windows to rear spoilers and anything in between. And just as many regulations are created by officials to ensure racer safety. These regulations are complicated because they vary by level, series, track, year and even vehicle type.
Whether it's a Friday night at a local track like the South Sound Speedway, or the Craftsman Cup Series, there are regulations on car bodies, engines, suspension, wheels and tires, and limits can't be shortened or exceeded. At South Sound Speedway in Washington State, for instance, spoiler height is limited to 10" for street stock races, and only 6-1/2" in the "limited late model" category [source: South Sound Speedway]. NASCAR, by comparison, went to a 4-1/4" spoiler in 2005 [source: Home Depot].
A mandate was set in 2007 that all NASCAR Nextel Cup cars essentially be the same except for the engine. The only differences fans now see between team cars are the paint job and maybe a minor body tweak here or there [source: Stewart] As with all regulations, this vast change has been made to ensure safety, but also to cut costs and reduce technological advantages one team might have over another. Now, every chassis and roll cage unit built must go through a NASCAR inspection, where roll cage joints and the driveshaft construction are compared to the new specs. If they're off, they can be fixed, but later on, points can be docked and standings can be altered.
If you're interested in more potential penalties, read on.