To use Nascar or a fictional racing company?

Poll closed Nov 24, 2021.
  1. Go with Nascar

    0 vote(s)
  2. Go with your own (fictional) company

    1 vote(s)
  1. Josie Grenwood

    Josie Grenwood New Member

    May 13, 2020
    Likes Received:
    United Kingdom

    Nascar book. Bump in the road?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Josie Grenwood, Nov 21, 2021.

    Hey everyone,

    I've been working on a project for about 6 months now, and I'm in a good (but relatively amendeable stage of writing it at the moment.)

    The book is about a young woman from a improverish background trying to make it big in Nascar racing. It seems like an impossible feet and a lot of the book focuses on the lack (and treatment) of woman in motorsport as a whole and particularly women from less economically privileged backgrounds.
    Without going off topic. The book uses all fictional characters but real places, real cars and real Nascar events.

    Then I had what I'm hoping might be just a silly thought, (apologise if it is) but can I actually use Nascar as the basis for my story? It's technically a company right? Like Mcdonalds or BMW. So does that mean I should be wary using it heavily in my book? Should I just invent my own racing company to use?

    I intend to publish, (I have two other books under my belt) but I've nearly always invented my own places/companies in those when needed.

    I've done a lot of research. (As a British female living in the countryside without so much as a driving licence I wasn't going to get very far without a lot of heavy studying, but now I'm not sure if total fiction is the right way to go?

    Thanks for any advice/suggestions.

  2. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

    Jan 21, 2021
    Likes Received:
    NASCAR is a corporation, but it is incorprated as a sanctioning body. It is not a racing team. Think of it as the auto racing equivalent of the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, or the National Hockey League.

    I don't know how many women have attempted to compete in NASCAR, but only two have succeeded to the level of actually driving for "name" teams in comparatively competitive cars: Janet Guthrie, and Danica Patrick. Patrick was more successful, perhaps (my opinion) because she had better publicity, which led to more sponsorship money.

    Making it even semi-big in NASCAR is extremely difficult. Even wealthy people can't afford to campaign their own cars or their own teams, unless they are SO wealthy that they want to use the racing team to LOSE money, as a tax write-off. Teams expect drivers to attract outside sponsors, who pay most or all of the day-to-day expenses of running the racing team. One of the two women (I'm drawing a blank on which), for example, was sponsored by GoDaddy, the Internet company.

    To get into NASCAR racing, a racer will start by running their own car, or joining a small, local team, to compete in local and regional short track races. If tey can do very well at that for a few years, they might get an invitation to try out as a second-string driver for a big team on the national level, where they'll be driving the number two (or number three) car behind a car driven by a major name driver as the star of the team.


    I don't think you have to worry about using NASCAR as the setting, as long as you don't slander or libel NASCAR. As I noted, NASCAR is only a sanctioning organization. If your female main character makes it into NASCAR, she won't be working for NASCAR -- she'll be working for a racing team. That's the entity that you can (and probably should) make up.

    Tom Cruise starred in an auto racing movie. I think it was Days of Thunder. I never watched it, so I don't know if NASCAR was identified as the sanctioning body or if they used a fictitious organizatuion. Check it out -- that might be the clue you need.

    [Edit to add] According to Wikipedia, Days of Thunder used the NASCAR name. I am not a lawyer but my guess would be that if they can, you can. [Again, assuming that you don't libel or slander them.]

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
  3. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

    May 20, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Joliet, IL
    All essentially correct.

    Using the NASCAR name in your story for the purpose of the character - she's trying to compete in NASCAR - shouldn't be a problem. It's no different than writing about a baseball player who aspires to one day reach MLB.

    Days of Thunder was a hugely successful, and very entertaining film set about and among NASCAR drivers. Though most of it is unrealistic and "Hollywooded up" but most non-racing fans may not notice a lot of the inconsistencies.

    NASCAR is a ridiculously expensive sport, and fielding a racing team is a huge endeavor. As pointed out, you must be incredibly wealthy to even attempt it. Michael Jordan just acquired his own team last year, with Bubba Wallace as his driver. That's just one example...to field a competitive team that can attract/retain good sponsorship, have one or more spacious and highly equipped shops, employ shop staff (fabricators, mechanics, engineers, administrative staff), plus a pit crew, multiple haulers, etc. you pretty much need to have "Michael Jordan money" if that gives you any indication. Days of Thunder touched on some of that...though in 1990 when the film was set, an independent/small-time owner could field a car in a NASCAR event more easily than today.

    I worked at one of the race tracks on the NASCAR schedule for several years. There is so much money and prestige that is behind the scenes at that level of motorsports it's mind-boggling.
    Josie Grenwood likes this.

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