Hot rod racing is a type of automobile racing performed with certain types of cars known as hot rods. These cars are highly modified for power and speed, and they are designed to provide this power to forward motion; steering capabilities are not as important to the hot rod racing enthusiast, since the races are all linear. In the past, this type of racing was very often done illegally on city streets or other straight roads, but in modern times it is mostly performed at sanctioned events on closed courses for safety and convenience.
Hot rod cars often feature aftermarket engines that are much larger and heavier than the original engines that came stock with the car. The frame and suspension of the car is therefore often upgraded or reinforced to ensure it can handle the added weight and strain of the stronger engine. It is not uncommon to find hot rod racing cars that feature an open hood design to allow more air to come in contact with the engine, cooling it more effectively under strain and delivering air into the engine for more efficient combustion.
The rear tires of hot rod racing cars are usually much wider and larger than the stock wheels, while the front tires are generally narrower and smaller. The larger rear tires offer more traction during racing, and the thinner front tires allow for better handling of the vehicle at high speeds. The bodies of the hot rod racing cars are usually stripped down to save on weight; modern hot rods often feature fiberglass bodies instead of metal to further add to the weight savings. Other hot rods stick more to the traditional build and style of the automobile, and the hot rodder may prefer authentic parts over fiberglass replicas.
The races themselves often take place between two cars on a straight track. The track has a distinct beginning and end, and the racers will start at the same point at the same time. When a signal is given, both cars will drive as fast as possible toward the end of the track; the first car to cross the finish line is the winner of the race. The races may be broken down into categories, as many distinct types of hot rods exist. Hot rod trucks, for example, will generally race against each other rather than against smaller, lighter hot rod cars.