Can You Name All Of These DIfferent Types Of Race Vehicles?

By: Marty Sems
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

When it comes to automobile races, some vehicles can't even be considered automobiles. But nonetheless, their drivers race in them and they compete to win, not just for the fun of it!

In this quiz, we will put your knowledge of race vehicles to the test.

Sure, it may be easy for you to identify iconic race vehicles like the Trans-Am, but what about those that are not that common?

For example, you may have heard of midget racers, but did you know that one of the most famous race car drivers of all time raced in one of these tiny vehicles at one point in his career?  In fact, many racing legends have sat behind the wheel of one of them.

Do you know what famous type of vehicle is known as a CART racer?  Every year, these vehicles go head-to-head in a very famous race held in a city in the midwestern United States.

And just in case you think we've limited this quiz to only four-wheel vehicles, think again!  Do you know which motorcycle is so fast that it is only allowed on a track, or in a controlled environment?

One more thing for you to consider ... some racing vehicles don't have any wheels at all!

These are the types of questions you're going to have to answer, and things you're going to have to consider to prove your knowledge of racing vehicles.  Are you up for the challenge?  There's only one way to find out.  Take the quiz now!

Since 1966, Trans-Am has meant American sports cars modified for racing. There are different classes (TA, TA2, TA3, and TA4) of cars, from mildly tweaked production models to fully reimagined replicas that must all use the same, old-school V8 engine.

Tiny, lightweight, and massively powerful for their size, midget racers are dirt-track favorites. Many a racing legend drove one of these on their way up, including Mario Andretti and Jeff Gordon.

Everybody’s heard of the Indianapolis 500. These are the cars that compete in the race. IndyCars, formerly and still informally known as CART racers, are practically identical open-wheel vehicles that make driving skill the main requirement for victory.

A superbike is a factory-produced motorcycle that’s been enhanced for power and handling on the racetrack. Speed and acceleration are borderline insane, so it’s a good thing they’re only allowed to express their true selves under controlled conditions on a clean, well-maintained racetrack.

Heard of NASCAR? Stock cars are the primary attraction in NASCAR’s racing events. They’re typically not “stock” (i.e., just like a production car you could purchase from a dealer), but rather replicas engineered from the ground up to resemble cars currently available from the automakers- going 200+ miles per hour, mind you.

Rally racing is rare in that the driver is joined by a co-driver in the passenger seat. As they careen around a looping track in the unrefined great outdoors, the co-driver calls out the turns and conditions ahead. A Subaru Impreza WRX is a popular (and street-legal) example of the kind of handling, power, and dirt-road traction that defines a rally car.

Wait, you thought that all racing vehicles are cars? In the world-famous America’s Cup, two racing yachts--one challenging and one defending the previous victory a few years earlier--compete for the prize. The United States used to thrash the U.K. on a regular basis, but in recent decades New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland have made things interesting.

Kart racing may look like a kiddie activity, but it’s literally a spawning ground for racing legends to come. Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and other big names got their starts here, learning the fundamentals and developing discipline. Start ‘em young, they say, and they’ll go far.

You may think that drag racing is what your bratty neighbor kid does at each stoplight, but in reality, that’s not even close. Here’s a Top Fuel dragster all set for the show. Two cars (or bikes) square off in a straight-line, quarter-mile race that’s all about driver reflexes, traction, and, of course,​ the power-to-weight ratio of the car itself.

Just as combustion-engine racing paid engineering dividends to streetcars over the last century-plus, solar-powered races have fostered innovations in zero-emissions vehicles and battery technology. Lacking the energy density of petroleum-based fossil fuels, solar car competition has forced designers -- many of them students -- to think outside the box to win races.

Mud racing is, well, just like it sounds. If none of the contestants finishes the race, they go, one at a time, down the same stretch of bog. The winner is whoever makes it the farthest in the mud. Swamp buggies are a close relative of the mud boggers​ and are popular in the American Southeast.

One of the easiest race cars to recognize is the sprint car, thanks to its distinctive, multi-component wing on top (there are series that also use cars without wings.) The wing’s horizontal surface helps to keep the car on the ground through downforce, while the sideboards on either side help to increase traction while taking turns at high speed. Sprint cars use either 410 cubic inch or 360 ci V-8 engines, depending on class.

A GT, or grand tourer / gran turismo, is a race car with enclosed wheels (fenders) and a passenger seat next to the driver’s. A GT may be based loosely or directly on a production car, and is often aimed at endurance races such as the 24-hour tag-team events at Le Mans and Daytona. Some familiar examples include cars based on the Ferrari F40, the Ford GT, the Dodge Viper, and the Porsche 911.

It’s pretty much a given that if it has wheels, and a motor, gearheads will soup it up and race it. Even if it’s an electric riding toy for kids. That’s what Power Wheels racing is all about. The Power Racing Series takes place at annual Maker Faire tinkerer’s shows across the U.S.

Even pickup trucks get in on the racing scene, albeit in a lowered stance with aerodynamic skirts. Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Toyota trucks are regular contenders in the Camping World Truck Series. Each truck has to use the same old-school pushrod V8 engine, as in other racing series.

A sort of hybrid between a sprint car and a midget racer, a mini sprint uses a 4-cycle motorcycle engine and a chain drive to get where it needs to go. And go they do, up to 100 mph or more. Mini sprint cars may look like someone attached a sprint car wing to a midget racer as a joke, but officially required roll cages and other safety features remind you that these are serious pocket rockets.

Japan’s pinnacle grand touring series is called Super GT. The enclosed-wheel cars are mainly Japanese and European. There are two classes, GT300 and the more powerful GT500. To keep things exciting for the fans, winners of one race find their car handicapped for the next.

The incredible speedboats called hydroplanes skim along the surface of the water in excess of 200 mph. They’ve been built with big car motors and piston engines out of airplanes, but in Unlimited class, they come with helicopter turbines in 3,000 hp territory. The boats are exotic, incorporating high strength-to-weight materials such as carbon fiber and honeycomb aluminum, and the pilot safety systems are even more advanced.

Funny cars are drag strip racers with lightweight body shells that tilt upward to reveal the chassis. Today they pound out more than 8,000 horsepower and sport carbon-fiber bodies. John Force, Don Prudhomme, and Cruz Pedregon are some of the legendary names associated with the genre.

One thing a lot of racing fans want to know: How well do currently available sports cars stack up against each other on the racetrack? The IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) aimed to find out in 1985 with its Showroom Stock races, at one point known as the Firehawk Series during tire manufacturer Firestone’s sponsorship. Various classes included Camaros, Mustangs, Audis, and Hondas.

Take a kiddie racing kart, add a 250 cc 2-stroke motor, outfit it with fairings to improved aerodynamics, and voila! You have a superkart. Popular around the world, these mighty mites vary in engine size and transmissions, but the more potent classes can attain speeds in excess of 160 mph.

As aspiring kart racers move up to the rarefied heights of Formula One, Formula Three is an evolutionary step. The open-wheel F3 cars all run on pump gas using 2 liter, 4-cylinder motors. Famous F3 drivers who graduated to F1 racing include Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, and Sebastian Vettel.

Late model race cars are based on current or recent production cars, but use lightweight body panels, custom or crate V-8 engines, and sometimes purpose-built chassis. This type of late model car is built to run on asphalt tracks, while others are designed for dirt track races. Late model series act as a stepping stone for drivers destined for NASCAR stock or sprint car racing.

Not just for Fords, Formula Ford aims to give racing teams the freedom to innovate at a low cost. The open-wheel, single-seat cars race without downforce-generating wings, using power from typically a Ford or Honda engine.

It may look like they’re driving on snow, but that’s actually salt from the incredibly flat, er, flats out near Wendover, Utah. All kinds of vehicles make the journey to the legendary Bonneville Speedway, but the ones that have set land speed records there have generally been long, thin streamliner cars and specialized motorcycles. Erika and Karlee Cobb, Michelle Mielke, and Laura and Brian Klock have all been recent fixtures on this “world’s fastest” scene.

The Extreme Sailing Series is for highly advanced catamarans, or twin-hulled vessels. The latest boat designs don’t just sail through the water--at speed, they actually rise up out of the water on hydrofoils, like a water skier. Thus the crew has more to do than just catch the wind and steer the ship--they have to keep it balanced on its ‘foils if they want to hydroplane to victory.

In the late 1960s, enthusiasts and desert racers converted Volkswagen Beetles into “Baja Bugs,” so named for Baja California, home to the Mexican 1000 race. Racers adapted their Bugs’ suspensions, ground clearance, and sometimes engines, often adding lighter fiberglass body panels and roll cages.

Monster trucks really don’t need an introduction, do they? Colossal tires, flaming exhaust pipes, and seemingly tiny but full-sized truck bodies conspire to wow the crowds in expensive style. They’re equally at home crushing junk cars as racing, and never fail to please the public.

Formula 3000 replaced Formula Two in 1985, acting as a tier of racing below the speed of Formula One. The open-wheeled cars were powered by 3-liter engines. Many famous F1 racers either came up through F2 / F3000 or dropped down to it after their F1 careers.

Trophy trucks, also called trick trucks depending on the sanctioning body, are off-road racing trucks built for speeding through the desert. With up to 900 hp propelling them across rough terrain, trophy trucks often use two shock absorbers per wheel to handle the jolts.

At the smaller end of motorcycle racing, the lightweight class typically includes sport bikes with up to 500 cc of engine displacement. There have been numerous two- and four-stroke models entered in competition over the years, with racing series for both pavement and dirt. As in other forms of racing, upwardly mobile riders race these smaller bikes on their way up to or down from the faster classes.

FIA’s Group T4 lets some big truck drivers get in on offroad racing. Engines are mostly stock, and the trucks themselves must be recent and production-built. Group T4 is mainly an overseas phenomenon; the only American truck allowed was the Hummer H1 around the turn of the millennium. Current trucks come from German, Italian, Czech, and even Russian manufacturers.

When you hear someone mention World of Outlaws Late Model racing, they’re talking about late model cars tearing up a dirt oval track. In this series, popular along the American East Coast and heartland, racers run purpose-built cars with 800+ hp V-8 engines. Fiberglass body panels reduce weight, and tires and suspensions are selected for handling on the loose surface of a dirt track.

If a race car zips by and has a whip antenna sticking up, look a little closer. Is the car only a few inches tall and about a foot long? That, my friend, is a remote control (RC) car. Often seen terrorizing cul-de-sacs in suburbia, RC cars offer cheap, safe fun for aspiring racers of all ages, who stand by the side of the track holding a remote controller. The cars or trucks are powered by electric motors or single-cylinder, 2-stroke gas engines.

All-terrain vehicles, as their name implies, are raced in mud, on ice, through the woods, and across the desert. There are races for single-rider ATVs and two-seat side-by-sides (SxS), and three wheelers as well as four-wheelers. Look for them at events held by the ATV National Motocross Championship (ATVMX), Grand National Cross Country (GNCC), and Championship Mud Racing (CMR).

New Zealand doesn’t only export Tolkien films by Peter Jackson, it also contributed a river racing sport to the world. A jetsprint boat has a powerful motor and a short hull, the latter outfitted with strakes (or stringers) along its length to help the boat take tight corners. As in a rally car, a navigator calls out upcoming turns to the driver. Each racing boat takes its turn down the short, tortuous, man-made track, with the fastest teams squaring off in later rounds.

XCAT boats, also known as Extreme Catamarans, differ from hydroplane racers by having twin hulls and a deck that spans them both. The enclosed-cabin motorboats use dual outboard motors and propellers to compete in the XCAT World Series.

Drag bikes, like their four-wheeled dragster cousins, are made to head down the 1/4 mile dragstrip at 200+ miles per hour. Classes range from stock bikes running on street tires on up to wild, nitromethane-burning Top Fuel machines with more than 1500 bhp. The wheelie bars in back are to keep the bikes from flipping over with all that torque.

Born in the American Southeast, swamp buggy racing is the original mud bogging. Floridians created them as a utility vehicle to get around where there were no roads, and in the 1940s, Naples residents started racing them in earnest. Early models varied wildly, but modern swamp buggys generally have fuselage-like bodies and tall, skinny wheels like pizza cutters.

Yes, this is the famous Mach 5 from the Speed Racer of TV and movie fame. Key to the fun were the buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard to activate different offensive and defensive gadgets: Auto Jacks to jump over obstacles, twin Cutter Blades to slice away offroad vegetation, and even a submarine mode complete with a periscope. Let’s not dwell on the question of why a race car had a trunk big enough to hide a bratty young stowaway and his monkey.

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