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6 Ways Race Cars Are Built and Cared for Differently than Your Car

Once upon a time, race cars were a far cry from the savage beasts they are today. Drivers simply bought unmodified factory cars, strapped in and stomped on the gas. Nowadays, street cars and race cars have about as much in common as a housecat and a cheetah. Here are 6 ways that race cars are built and cared for differently than your car.

1. Tires

The car in your garage has very different tires than a race car. Racing tires have no treads. This way, as much of the tire as possible hugs the track. Since racing tires are driven so mercilessly, they only last about 100 miles. Racing tires also cost about $350 to $400 each, so pit stops can add up fast.

2. Engine

Garden-variety engines are put together on an assembly line, while racing teams build theirs from scratch. These engines cost between $150,000 to $250,000 to build and pack a jaw-dropping 800 horsepower. To put this in perspective, the typical American car has 120 horsepower.

3. Suspension

Race car suspensions are uniquely tight and deliver the jolt of the smallest road debris straight to the driver. This works in the driver’s favor: they can get a precise feel for the road’s surface and know how much traction they’ll get. In a road car, this would be bone-jarring.

4. Camshaft

The cam shaft is a component that controls the mixture of fuel and air in the engine. It helps race car engines gulp additional airflow to push the engine to extremes. This type of camshaft on a daily driver would be sluggish, at best.

5. Safety Features

Safety is of utmost importance, whether you’re on the speedway or the freeway. However, because race car drivers endure more precarious circumstances, their cars are outfitted with safety features that street cars don’t have, including:

• Lexan Windshields

Racing car windshields are made of Lexan (polycarbonate). Instead of shattering when an object strikes Lexan, it merely scratches or dents.

• Roof Flaps

At top speed, a car may produce enough lift to become airborne. Flaps, which are recessed in the car’s roof, activate and disrupt the airflow, killing the lift and keeping the car grounded.

• Safety Belts

Race cars have a five-point harness, while street cars’ seatbelts only go over one shoulder and around the waist.

6. Construction

Just about everything on a race car is modified. It lacks headlights, tail lights, brake lights, speedometers and turn signals (everyone already knows you’re going to turn left).

Race cars are built for one thing and one thing only: to go fast. They need to be able to lock horns with brutal racetrack conditions. That’s why they differ so drastically from the car you drive. And, unlike your car, they’ll never get ticketed for speeding.

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