How to Bet On Auto Racing

Humans have been racing automobiles since they were first called horseless carriages. As the need for speed has increased over the past century, people have been placing their bets on the fastest cars and the best drivers.

While most of us can’t experience the thrill of being snapped back in our seats in a high-tech speed demon, we can still get an adrenaline rush from gambling on auto races. Auto racing bets combine the thrill of the need for speed with the gambler’s rush. It’s time to raise the checkered flag to see how to bet on auto racing.


People began betting on races 3,000 years ago in China, where eager gamblers wagered on horse races. They bet on the fastest steed, the best rider, and a combination of other factors that still hold true with auto racing today. They still measure a car’s power in horsepower, after all.

Engineers design faster cars with more foot-pounds of torque just to keep our need for speed satisfied. But it takes a skilled driver to keep that land rocket on the track and out of the stands; winning a race is much more than just putting the pedal to the metal.

Types of Auto Races

There are many types of auto races you can bet on, each with its own variables and odds. Some racing circuits share the same types of bets and others have their own specialty wagers.

The most popular auto races are Formula One, the IndyCar races, and NASCAR. There are many other divisions and classes of auto racing, all determined by the type of car, track, and time spent racing.

Formula One (F1) racing sits at the pinnacle of motorsports. Each car’s format is open-top, open-wheel, rear-engine, and the motors are designed by the top racing engine manufacturers in the world. Each engine is custom designed for each car every year, which makes this multi-million-dollar spectacle the gas-powered equivalent of Thoroughbred horse racing.

The IndyCar races (Indy 500, Daytona 500, etc.) also use carbon fiber, single-seat, open-wheel cars like those in F1 racing; however, the racing teams buy their cars from Dallara Automobili in Italy. The engines are either Honda or Chevrolet 2.2 liter twin-turbo V-6 engines.

NASCAR races use standard front-engine, rear-wheel-drive stock cars with ‘old school’ V8 engines churning out up to 900 horsepower in some circuits. NASCAR may not push billions through its cars and drivers like F1, but it is still the number one spectator sport in America.

Types of Auto Racing Bets

As with horse racing, there are several types of bets to contend with. You can bet on a single winner, a stage winner, or a series winner. Some of the bets made in auto racing don’t even require the winner to pass the checkered flag.

To-Win Bets

To-win bets are the easiest starting point when betting on auto racing. Simply put, you are simply betting on a single winner of an auto race. And with 20-40 drivers to bet on in each race, you need to look at the racing odds to find the favorite.

Naturally, the number-one favorite driver pays the lowest returns, or else the bookies would go bankrupt. But the end result is the same: the winner is the driver who passes the checkered flag first.

Matchup Bets

Another type of auto racing bet is the matchup bet. This is where the sportsbook will choose two drivers for a particular race, and you bet on which driver will finish ahead of the other driver.

The two drivers don’t even need to win the race in first place for the bet to pay off. They don’t even need to cross the finish line for you to win. If one driver crashes on Lap 2 and the other crashes on Lap 3, the Lap 3 driver raced longer, beating the other driver. You just need to choose the driver who finishes better than the other one, and you win the bet.

Stage Winners

Some auto races are performed in stages, with wagering possible at each stage. NASCAR holds races in three stages, with two initial stages and a final stage. You can bet on who will win each stage and win money, even if those two drivers don’t win the final race.

This is a great way to split your betting action and spread the bankroll around evenly during the entire racing event. Rather than waiting for a single winner to emerge after days or weeks of racing, you can bet and win all throughout the three races.

Pole Position Bets

A really popular auto racing bet is the pole position bet. Racers qualify for the big race by solo runs around the racetrack. It’s easier for most drivers to achieve higher speeds when they aren’t weaving in and out of the crowed racing traffic.

You can bet on the driver with the fastest qualifying time. This driver starts first in the race, having secured the pole position. This is where it pays to learn a bit more about the each driver’s race record. Some may not do so well on the crowded track, but they’re speed demons when driving solo.

Podium Finish Bets

Another popular bet in the auto racing world is the podium finish bets. As the name suggests, the podium is where the top three racers stand and receive their cups, medals, and champagne showers.

All you need to do to win a podium finish bet is to bet on any driver to make the final three. If that driver is standing at the podium at the end of the race (either first, second, or third place), you win the bet.

Finish Line

Just remember, as with all betting, cooler heads prevail. Before you throw your money at the race cars, be sure to develop a good strategy for betting on auto races. That means watching the races to get a feel for the different cars, drivers, and the odds for each team to win.

See you at the races!

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