Why doesn't NASCAR race in the rain?

The Next Raceable Day
These crew members are waiting for Tropical Storm Hannah to arrive. Do you think they're preparing for the next raceable day?
These crew members are waiting for Tropical Storm Hannah to arrive. Do you think they're preparing for the next raceable day?
Marc Serota/­Getty Images Sport

­As we mentioned earlier, it doesn't take a lot of rain to delay a race. Once the rain starts coming down and the track gets wet, the red flag goes up and everyone waits for a window of sunshine, or at least for the rain to stop. If that doesn't happen, then the race will need to be rescheduled.

NASCAR makes the final decisions when it comes to rained-out races, and the organization typically has two options in a rain scenario. The NASCAR rules allow for a winner to be called after the halfway point of the race has been reached in bad weather conditions. At least half of the laps must be completed in order to call a winner. So, if 101 laps have been raced at the Daytona 500 (it's a 200-lap race) and it starts pouring down rain with no sign of letting up, NASCAR could officially decide that the race has been completed and a winner would be declared.

If the race hasn't reached its halfway point, and a delay of the race won't change the conditions of the track, then the race can be rescheduled for another day, usually the next dry day, sometimes referred to as the next raceable day [source: Huller]. In some cases, races have been postponed to the next available race weekend, which poses a problem considering the lack of open weekends in a NASCAR season. This, of course, isn't a desired outcome for anyone. The drivers and crew teams spend a lot of time prepping for their next race and a rescheduled one only limits practice time.

­­In addition to the drivers and the crewmembers, there are also drawbacks for NASCAR track owners, vendors and fans. On a normal race weekend, many workers are hired specifically for that weekend to man the concessions, work security or direct traffic. If a race is rescheduled for the next raceable day, which may not fall on a weekend, some of the workers could be back at their full-time jobs and therefore unable to work at the race. This poses a logistical problem for track owners when a race is rescheduled  -- it costs them more money to hire people for another day of work. Vendors also lose money because people are less willing to stand in the rain to buy merchandise.

Rain can also affect NASCAR's advertising. Advertisers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on race weekend. Those companies are paying for a specific day, time and projected viewing or listening audience. When a race changes because of poor weather conditions, advertising contract conditions for the rescheduled race may change as well. When races get rained out, ticket holders are able to redeem their ticket stubs for the rescheduled race but still have to pay for additional meals, another night's stay in a hotel and maybe even a day of lost wages.

­Anyone involved in a NASCAR race never wants to see it get rained out, but these delays and cancelations are necessary for the safety and competitiveness of the sport. To find out more about NASCAR racing, see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • Allison, Liz. The Girls Guide to NASCAR. Center Street. New York. 2006.
  • Huller, Scott. A Little Bit Sideways: One Week Inside a NASCAR Winston Cup Race Team. MBI Publishing Company. 1999.
  • Lemasters, Ron. "Much More Than Race Day Lost When Rain Pours Down." Feb. 27, 2008. (November 26, 2008) http://www.nascar.com/2008/news/business/02/27/rain.california.business/index.html
  • Leslie-Pelecky, Diandra. The Physics of NASCAR: How to Make Steel+Gas+Rubber=Speed. Dutton. 2008.
  • Leslie-Pelecky, Diandra. "What Is a Weeper?" (Nov. 20, 2008). http://www.stockcarscience.com/scienceTopics/scsTrack_Weepers.php
  • Martin, Mark. NASCAR for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc. New York. 2000.
  • The Official NASCAR BUSCH Series Grand National Division Handbook. Harper Entertainment. 1998.
  • Sporting News Wire Service. "Fellows Wins on Rain Tires at Montreal's Road Course." Aug. 4, 2008. (Nov. 28, 2008). http://www.nascar.com/2008/news/headlines/bg/08/02/rfellows.montreal.winner/index.html