How the United States Auto Club Works

The US Auto Club governs open-wheel auto racing, sanctioning rules, car design and championship races. See more NASCAR pictures.
Jaime Squire/Getty Images for NASCAR


Do you enjoy wa­tching races like the Indianapolis 500? Perhaps you've even competed in some form of auto racing yourself. If so, then you probably understand the need for strict rules and regulations to keep drivers and spectators safe. After all, automobile racing is dangerous.

There are many forms of automobile racing around the globe. Each form or division of the sport generally has its own sanctioning body that governs the rules and regulations for that division, especially here in the United States.

Unlike its European counterparts, the United States doesn't have one sanctioning racing body. All governing racing bodies belong to the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States and Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (ACCUS-FIA). The United States Auto Club (USAC) is just one of the groups involved in this association (which also include other big name racing association, such as NASCAR) [source: Encyclopedia Britannica].

Dating back to 1955, the USAC has governed some of the most popular racing divisions. Among them is the National Championship racing series, which includes the Indianapolis 500. In fact, the USAC was created to serve as the sanctioning body for open-wheel cars like the ones you see at that famous race.

Today, the USAC is the governing body for the following amateur and professional series:

  • The Silver Crown Series (professional)
  • National Sprint Car Series (professional)
  • Mopar Midget National Championship (professional)
  • Ford Focus Series (amateur)
  • .25 Midgets (amateur)

­­Not only does the USAC perform as a sanctioning body, but within the association is USAC Properties, which offers services focused solely on the design and testing of products in the automotive industry. Though the role of the USAC has changed since its formation, its focus has remained the same for more than 50 years.

In the next section, you'll get an overview of the mission of the USAC and learn about how one horrific event revealed the need for the racing reforms that led to the creation of the United States Auto Club.


Mission of the United States Auto Club


­T­he purpose and mission of the United States Auto Club is to develop racing rules and specifications, enforce those rules and specifications via trained officials, and create and organize the racing framework for racing participants and those who organize the races [source: INSMKT].

Each series governed by the USAC has its own rules and specifications designed with safety in mind. The rules set out by the USAC define inspection procedures, as well as qualification procedures, order and general race procedures.

The official USAC Rule Book also lays out the guidelines for complete design and construction of the car, fire equipment and prevention, safety equipment, car numbers, names and crew and personnel appearance. It defines penalties, fines, lap penalties, forfeitures, disqualifications, exclusions and suspensions as well.

If you can't recall a rule or regulation before preparing for your next race, there's no need to worry. The rule book for each division is available to racers and can be found online at each division's "owners garage" section of the USAC Web site.

Since the formation of the USAC, some pretty popular faces have graced its ranks. If you'd like the opportunity to meet automobile racing stars, go to the next section to learn about membership and the benefits you'll receive. Get your cameras and signing pens ready!


Members of the United States Auto Club


­Racers aren't the only ones who can become members of the USAC. If you want to become a member of any of the USAC series divisions, you can join the official USAC fan club, also known as the USAC Battalion. As a member of the Battalion, you'll be one of "an Army of USAC's most loyal followers."

Members of the USAC receive the following:

  • An official membership card
  • Entrance into Battalion events
  • The opportunity to meet racing stars at autograph sessions
  • USAC Battalion T-shirt
  • USAC seat cushion
  • Window decal
  • Driver trading cards
  • Weekly newsletter
  • Discounts on official race gear
  • Special events like the Battalion Party with the drivers and a poker tournament

A membership costs $39.95 annually. Those who sign on for a two-year membership also receive a copy of a book detailing the history of the USAC.

All drivers of any series must become members and apply for series drivers licenses. Crew members, officials, inspection stations, manufacturers and manufacturer workers must all apply for licenses, as well.

Before a member can race, he or she must undergo a medical and physical examination to determine if they're of suitable health.

If you'd like to learn more about the USAC and/or the men and women who have competed in any of the five divisions, check out the next section. If you're more interested in joining, head to the USAC's Web site and become a member of one of the major governing bodies of the U.S. automobile racing community.


Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • "A. J. Foyt." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2008. (Accessed 01/09/09)
  • "Al Unser." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2008. (Accessed 01/09/09)
  • "Automobile Racing­." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 2009. (Accessed 01/09/09)
  • Ewilins. "Crash and Carnage at 150 MPH". (Accessed 01/09/09)
  • "USAC Background." (Accessed 01/09/09)
  • "Mario Andretti." Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2008. (Accessed 01/09/09)
  • PlantServices. "Toyota life truck named most fuel efficient." (Accessed 01/09/09)
  • "The USAC Stock Car Series. (Accessed 01/10/09)
  • USAC. United States Auto Club. (Accessed 01/09/09)