How Do you Get a NASCAR Driving License?

How do you get a nASCAR license

In a previous article, we talked about the interesting fact that NASCAR drivers in fact do not need state driver’s licenses to compete in races. They do, however, need a specific NASCAR driver’s license. This can be issued by NASCAR headquarters, or by any NASCAR-licensed track. Besides the drivers, all members of the team have to have that same license.

NASCAR licenses are gained at the lower levels of the sport before moving up to Cup level Licenses. All require demonstrable racing experience, medical checks, passing of a driving test, references and consent. They can vary from 2000 dollars plus for Truck/Xfinity/Cup series driving licenses to 400 for Euro Licenses.

We’re going to look in more detail at the process required to become a licensed NASCAR driver.

What is a NASCAR License and Why Is It Required?

As with just about any kind of license you can think of, a NASCAR license is meant to act as proof that the holder is capable of driving and handling a NASCAR vehicle on an official track and in race conditions, and all of the associated risks that come along with doing that.

Holding a state driver’s license and simply being able to operate a car is not enough to become a NASCAR driver, we’re afraid.

Issuance of the license isn’t dependent on a simple driving test like the state license, but instead depends on the driver’s racing experience and proven track record (literally). Another critical factor is how well the driver might fit in with their new teammates. Being in with a team is a critical part of getting that license (see below for more about teams).

In addition, the license is a key way for the NASCAR organization to cover and protect itself from liability. Licenses cost $2,420 and have to be renewed annually with a new application. Yes, even all the best and greatest drivers you’ve heard of have to get their license renewed each year and pay the appropriate fee.

NASCAR License – Application Process

Pre-Application Process

To get the NASCAR license, the first step is to start driving competitively at a young age. You could call this the very long and thorough “pre-application” process, with many noted NASCAR drivers tracing their driving careers back to the age of 4 when they started go-kart racing.

Beginning with karts and working one’s way up through different vehicle types: Kid Karts, SKUSA Cadet Class, Junior Class and so on…young drivers build up a years-long resume of competitive driving, handling vehicles of bigger and bigger engine displacement and horsepower as they go.

As with many other sports, the professional end of racing like NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Rally and others are all keeping at least one eagle eye on the state of teen drivers. They will spot talent from a young age, possibly sponsoring or assisting in their development in return for them one day racing for that team on a professional level.

Another key aspect nowadays for gaining your NASCAR license is proving that you are dedicated to your own education and self-improvement. The idea of simply dropping out of school to pursue racing full-time is not encouraged or condoned in the same way it was years ago.

Teams place a lot of stock in young drivers who are pursuing education goals as well as their driving passions. Team image is important, and having aspirational young and educated drivers works to their benefit every time.

One more step in the pre-application process is for drivers to attend NASCAR driving schools. These racing schools can be found at NASCAR race tracks, but you may find others if getting to the speedway is a problem.

These training sessions are not directly connected to getting a license, but it will help to prove one is capable of driving at the NASCAR level, and that they are serious about learning all they can about doing NASCAR right.


As mentioned before, the application paperwork, including a professional resume, has to be submitted to NASCAR headquarters in either Daytona Beach, Florida or Charlotte, North Carolina. Alternatively, one can also submit application paperwork to their nearest NASCAR-licensed track.

Besides the application forms and resume detailing their racing experience, aspiring drivers have to give numerous references. These references will attest not just to the driving skill, but the sportsmanship, honor, character and integrity of the driver in question.

What are Requirements Needed to Apply for a NASCAR License?

There are few rules to follow before you apply for a NASCAR racing license. We have highlighted these below.

  • May need to perform a driving test prior to license.
  • Minimum requirement of 18 years old
  • Medical test and physical required to make sure physically capable of driving.
  • References on suitability required
  • Have demonstrable racing experience prior to application

Getting a Team

Your license and hard work will mean nothing if you don’t have a team to back you up. All members of any NASCAR team have to be licensed as well. On paper, the system seems to be saying that the only way into NASCAR is to create your own team.

But of course we know that’s impossible since most ordinary people have nowhere near the amount of resources needed to hire all the people needed for a NASCAR team, including pit crew technicians and whatnot.

Of course, the most common ways that people become associated with teams is for established teams to talent-spot young drivers, help them through the application process and then bring them on board. As we mentioned earlier, then, chemistry with one’s new teammates is essential in becoming a licensed driver.

If your success in gaining that license and getting on a team is to come, then you have to be someone that existing teams believe will strengthen and enrich their existing pool of talent.

Staying on the Team

Finally, in order to keep your spot in your new-found NASCAR career, you not only have to renew that license every year for the same $2,420, but you also have to pass a drug test, and be a good-enough integral part of your team’s machine for them to want to continue working with you each year.

If a driver gains considerable success over the years with one team, they may decide to leave and create their own using the money they’ve generated. There’s no limit on who can and can’t create a team, as long as you have all the constituent parts that are required, and as long as everyone on the team is eligible for the NASCAR license.

How much for Other NASCAR Series Licensees

There is more to the world of NASCAR, though sometimes hard to believe it, than just the Cup Series. There i also, of course, the trucks, Xfinity, The EuroNASCAR and Pinty Events all need drivers and all those drivers need licenses.

Below we have covered the other NASCAR licenses, which if you are here on this page are going to be much more relevant to you!

Table 1: NASCAR Arca, Euro and Pinty license and application form details.

NASCAR Series LicenseCost of LicenseNotes and links
ARCA NASCAR Series$1525 to $650 depending on driver – crew in a new tab.
Whelen Euro Series390 Euros for Driver and Owner and 320 Euros for crew. Sponsorship requirements for New drivers below in a new tab. Check out the application form here Opens in a new tab.
Pinty NASCAR Series$410 for owner
$360 for driver
$190 for crew
You can check out the application form here Opens in a new tab.

Licenses Across Motorsport

Euro Whelan Series Driver License and recruitment.

Although still NASCAR there is also licensing and other requirements for other Series in NASCAR overseas. In the Whelen Euro series you will need the following taken from the recruitment page of the Euro Nascar page

  • Be able to prove good experience in Car or Go kart racing.
  • Not have anything to preclude you getting an FIA International license.
  • Be able to provide 50% of the seasons cost
  • Be a new applicant
  • Pay a Participation fee.

Of course, NASCAR is not alone in its licensing requirements. Formula 1 drivers have to hold something called the “FIA Super License” — actually it’s the British/European spelling, so it’s “Licence” — for which they must be 18 years of age and have acquired at least 40 “Super Licence Points” in qualifying races in the prior 3 years. There’s even a theory test issued by the FIA that drivers have to pass.

IndyCar only recently introduced a licensing system, having previously relied on intake from top-3 drivers of the Indy Lights season, and transfers from NASCAR and Formula 1.

Rally drivers also need to get a license from either the American Rally Association (ARA) or the National Auto Sports Association (NASA – not the space agency) Rally Sports Association. Application typically involves paperwork and payment, but proof of experience and training are critical, too.

Final Lap

As we mentioned there is more to getting, and keeping a NASCAR top level license than just being a great driver. You will need to keep a great team with you to be able to drive!

However before any of that, and if you are at that stage you really don’t need this page!, you should be looking at developing experience in late models, karting and if you have progressed well enough then into the K&N and Arca racing. However this is heading towards the top and will feature less weekend racers and more professional teams.

So the application links above can give yo some idea of what you will need to do, achieve and pay when you get to those middle levels of NASCAR racing.

Good Luck!


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