10 Different Types of Race Cars (With Photos)

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You hear about racing cars, sports cars, supercars, and hypercars, and you wonder if they are just one particular type of car? Well, no, they are not the same type of car. Just as there are different types of car racing competitions, there are different types of race cars.

Rallies, NASCAR, championships, off-road, Indy 500, Formula 1, and every other type of car racing have specific vehicles used. Interestingly, this article covers a wide range of different types of race cars existing as of this time.

Let’s get started!

Different Types of Race Cars

1. Open Wheeler

Image Source: Wikimedia

Popular Competitions: Formula One and IndyCar Series

Formula One (F1) is literally the most popular car racing competition globally, and it’s an open-wheel car racing sport. Similarly, the IndyCar Series is equally open-wheel racing.

Open-wheel racing is a type of car race competition done with open-wheel vehicles. These are vehicles that have their tires attached to their bodies.

Open-wheel cars are also called single-seater cars in British English because they usually have space for only one person – the driver. Unlike race cars used in other competitions, open-wheel cars have their tires on the outside of their bodies; they are built for road racing and oval track racing.

2. Sports Cars (Grand Tourers)

Popular Competitions: Endurance racing, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona, 24 Hours of Spa, and other similar competitions.

Sports car racing is mainly done with Grand Tourers (GTs) or purpose-built prototype cars, and there are different classes (Championship levels) of the competition to compete in.

Race cars used in sports car racing are modified to meet the competition’s specifications; notwithstanding, they look closely like typical sedans and muscle cars.

In sports car racing, the distances to be covered are always above 1,000 km; cars used in these competitions have space for two people to sit inside; hence, they are always two drivers in each car. The drivers switch over every few hours until the race ends. Sports car racing vehicles are usually very lightweight.

3. Production-Derived Race Cars (Touring Car Racing)

Image Source: Flickr

Popular Competitions: Touring Car Racing, such as Supercars Championship, British Touring Car Championship, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, and World Touring Car Championship.

As the name implies, these are specially-built race cars; they are built from the ground up for the specific competition the car is expected to participate in – mostly touring car racing.

Touring car racing is a road racing where closed tracks and circuits are not used. There are many popular touring car race competitions hosted in different countries globally.

4. Stock Race Cars

Photo by Royalbroil via Wikimedia

Popular Competitions: NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) and British Stock car racing.

Stock car racing is the most popular auto racing in North America, and it is done with stock race cars; these are purpose-built cars designed to run on oval tracks.

If you stare too long at a stock race car, you’d see it appear like a production race car; they are vaguely similar. However, stock race cars are built with strict specifications, and they are also called Silhouette racing cars.

5. Rally Race Cars

Image Source: Wikimedia

Popular Competitions: World Rally Championship (WRC), Rally Argentina, Paris-Dakar Rally, and many others.

Rally race cars are used in rallies – a unique type of auto racing done on closed road sections; it’s a race to beat the rally time! This type of race car looks closely like regular sedans, but they are built specially with custom-spec components for the various rallies the car is meant to participate in.

Actually, there are different types of rally racing cars – just as there are several types of rally racing competitions across the globe.

6. Truck- and -SUV-Based Race Cars (For Off-Road Racing)

Photo by Brian Snelson via Wikimedia

Popular Competitions: Best in the Desert and Desert racing

Off-road racing cars are mostly truck-based or SUV-based with high suspension and larger tires. These are ruggedly-built vehicles engineered for the toughest racing track.

The race cars are specified-modified based on the severity of the off-road racing tracks. Off-road racing is done on beaches, deserts, and other typical terrains that are not regular racing tracks.

7. Drag Race Cars

Photo by Andy via Flickr

Popular Competitions: Top Fuel Dragster

Drag race cars are usually built to accelerate much faster than any other type of race car, and that’s because of the racing requirements. Of course, drag race cars are as lightweight as possible, packed with twin-turbo engines or superchargers for quicker acceleration.

The suspension of this type of race car is not typically high – they are just like normal street-legal vehicles. Most drag cars have larger rear wheels and smaller front wheels with Plexiglas windows and have space for up to two or more people to be in the car.

8. Monster Trucks

Popular Competitions: Monster Jam

Monster truck vehicles are heavily-modified trucks with high, heavy-duty suspension and large-displacement engines (mostly V8s). They are also equipped with overly large tires for competition and entertainment purposes.

Monster truck racing has grown in popularity over the years. A for-race monster truck is about 12 feet tall, typically equipped with 66-inch off-road tires. This type of off-road racing trucks are created by customizing stock models. Of course, SUVs are also modified to be used in Monster Jam competitions.

9. Drift Racing Cars

Photo by James Willamor via Flickr

Popular Competitions: Formula Drift

Although race drivers can drift with any type of race car, there are specific vehicle vehicles for drifting. Initially, drifting used to be a technique in motorsports, but it has evolved into a competitive sport where different drivers come to show off their drifting skills and go home with a trophy.

Drift cars are usually lightweight, rear-wheel-drive coupes and sedans with incredible power levels. Popular drift cars include the Subaru WRX, Scion TC, Toyota Avensis, Dodge Charger, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and Nissan GT-R. Most drift cars used in drift racing are from Japanese brands.

10. Prototype Race Cars

Photo by Brian Snelson via Wikimedia

Popular Competitions: IMSA prototype Challenge

This type of race car is used in the highest-level sports car racing categories. Unlike other race cars, these purpose-built racing cars are not built for individuals (even expert drivers) to purchase; they are produced in the exact quantity needed for a prototype car competition.

Some popular race cars in this category include the Jaguar XJR-8 and some grand tourer (GT) models from select automobile manufacturers. Prototype Race Cars are sometimes referred to as “Le Mans cars” by some people, but that’s wrong – they are not Le Mans Cars.


Race cars are specially built to accelerate faster and offer better stability at top speeds; the engines are also not the same. So, what are the different types of race cars?

There are ten different categories of race cars; some of these cars can be used in different competitions – for example, sports cars (touring cars) can be used in stock racing and rallies too.

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