As the No. 1 spectator sport in the United States -- with a huge amount of consumer loyalty -- NASCAR and stock car racing are lucrative industries. Sponsors pay large sums of money to have their logos displayed at racing events. Fans can buy T-shirts, bumper stickers, bedding and home appliance that sport the NASCAR logo. This income allows racing leagues the opportunity to pay drivers and teams handsome paychecks out of their racing purses.
In the simplest terms, a racing purse is the money given to the winner of a race [source: Dregni]. A driver or an owner's purse refers to the amount of money he or she won at a race. It seems simple, but it gets a little more complicated when you add in contingency and special awards. With these, a driver who finished 17th in a race can actually win more money than the driver who finished fourth.
This happens because special awards are distributed at each race beyond the general standing awards. Sponsors also hold contests for their drivers. For example, if Coca-Cola sponsors four cars in a given race, it might offer a prize to the driver who finished first out of those four, regardless of his standing in the overall race.
Teams can also enter a race as a part of a plan, like the Plan 1 of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Races. Besides competing with all the other teams on the track, drivers are part of a special competition among only those teams that are part of the plan. Drivers in the plan can win money and special recognition based on their standing in relation to one another.
So, a driver can win money in a variety of ways -- from his placement in the race, sponsor bonuses, special awards and plan prizes. At the end of the day, he adds it all up to see how much he's got in his purse.
To learn more about the ever-growing stock car industry, be sure to check the links on the next page.