Race cars have existed for as long as automobiles has existed. The first race ever held with purpose built race cars took place in 1895 as the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris Rally. Modern race cars come in many forms for each different racing discipline.
Open wheel car
- These race cars are distinguished by the fact that their wheels are not covered by bodywork, thus the term "open wheel"
- They contain a cockpit that surrounds the driver's body, while leaving the head exposed.
- There exists many different variations of open wheel cars.
- Open wheel racing is considered one of the fastest forms of racing in the world.
- These cars commonly race on both road courses and ovals.
- Different types of open wheel cars usually follow a naming scheme of Formula, followed by the appropriate suffix (ex. Formula Ford)
- Most prestigious racing series include Formula 1, IndyCar Series and the former CART/IndyCar World Series
- These race cars are production based vehicles outfitted with high-performance parts for racing.
- In most series, competitors must keep the basic shape of the production car, while being allowed to heavily modify performance parts.
- Generally, touring cars are derived from hatchbacks, sedans or in some cases, coupes.
- Touring cars are most predominantly raced on road courses or street circuits.
- Most prestigious racing series include the World Touring Car Championship, British Touring Car Championship, the V8 Supercars and the Deutsch Tourenwagen Masters
- Sports cars, sometimes referred to as GT cars can be considered a hybrid of open wheel and touring cars.
- These cars are commonly associated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
- They usually contain enclosed wheels, two seats, and either an open or enclosed cockpit.
- These cars can be purpose built or be heavily modified from production cars.
- Most top tier sports car races emphasize endurance, reliability and strategy over pure speed.
- These cars are raced almost exclusively on road courses and street circuits.
- The most prestigious racing series include the Le Mans Series and the American Le Mans Series
- Stock cars resembling production based cars, but are purpose built for racing.
- These cars mostly race on ovals.
- Originally, like touring cars, stock cars were modified production cars.
- Stock car racing is most popular in North America.
- Most prestigious racing series is NASCAR
- Rally cars are mostly production cars outfitted for off road racing.
- Rally cars require two people to operate, the driver and the navigator.
- These cars are raced off and are based on fastest time, in various race stages.
- These race cars mostly race on temporary point-to-point race courses.
- They are capable of racing in different terrains and weather conditions.
- Most prestigious racing series is the World Rally Championship
Race Cars in Video Games
Racing games were an early genre in the history of video gaming, with numerous games utilizing sprites of various race cars. These depictions were mostly of generic unnamed cars. As technology grew more advanced, the graphical capabilities of new platforms allowed for a more detailed depiction of cars. During the early days, these usually depicted open-wheel race cars, the most advanced racing machines in the world. Commonly, these cars depicted or were modelled after Formula 1 cars, the most popular racing series. Other varieties of cars were depicted as well for games featuring different motorsports disciplines such as rally or off-road.