Auto racing is one of the oldest forms of competition in the world. As soon as cars were invented, there were people willing to watch races. With this desire came drivers, and in turn, bettors. Betting on racing events can be extremely exciting. Motorsports borrows many of the most enticing elements of horse racing and combines them with unparalleled technology and speed. Whether you are in Europe or the United States, racing is a big part of your local sports report, and that is not without reason.
Bikes, Formula 1, NASCAR and everything between can be bet on, both in sportsbooks and online. Your options will vary greatly depending on where you live. NASCAR is generally one of the only motorsports series available for wagering in the US, while Formula 1 will be more popular outside of the US. The exceptions to this limited availability can be found in big events like the Indianapolis 500.
The majority of racing that can be bet on takes place on asphalt, but there are events outside of the paved track arena than can also be wagered on. As is the case with just about every sport and league, you will find the most options and the best odds when you bet on racing online. If you are outside of the US and have a local sports betting shop, however, you may have just as many options available to you.
The types of racing today are virtually unending, but the list of series in which you can actually bet on events is much shorter. Motocross, Formula 1, IndyCar, Le Mans and NASCAR are some of the most well known and most accessible series when it comes to racing bets. They may not be as big as the NFL, NHL or MLB are in the US, but they are renowned around the world. These particular series will usually have betting available on the winners of any given event, but may also have various head to head and prop bets offered as well. When special events occur in lesser known racing series, this is when you will find more betting selection. Racing is never going to be the most popular sport for betting, but you will always be able to find a bet available for the most prominent series.
There are a number of different ways in which you can bet on racing. Since racing is an individual sport and not a team sport, the bookmakers have to be a bit more creative in the wagering options that are made available. Match race betting is the most popular way to make bets more “even” and easy to follow. When you pit one driver against another heads up, you are betting simply on which one will finish in a better position. This can be done in just about any form of racing. If you bet on a driver that gets in a wreck on lap one, you will, effectively, instantly lose. If you bet on the other side, however, you will automatically win.
Betting on an actual winner in racing is very difficult to do, but it pays off much more than picking winners does in other sports. Since most sports are team vs. team, you will rarely see huge odds to pick a winner, even if they are an underdog. In racing, however, since there are frequently, 20, 30, or even 40+ competitors, picking a winner can pay sizable dividends. No name NASCAR drivers, for example, are usually 50/1 or 100/1 to win any given race, and their odds to win championships can be even longer. Even the most well known and dominant drivers will seldom be better than 5/1 or 6/1 to win a race. In racing, one small issue can create a setback that cannot be recovered from.
Betting on NASCAR is most similar to horse racing, if you multiplied the field by 3-5x. Instead of odds being represented via parimutuel wagers that balance themselves out throughout the field, odds in racing are listed in the same way as moneylines. For example, a favorite is likely to be in the +300 to +600 range. Of course, this would be a big line for a basketball game, since one of two teams has to win, but for racing, the payout is not very much when there are 40+ entrants. If you think you have a hunch on a longshot driver, however, you will have the real opportunity to cash in since drivers will frequently be available with +1000 or even much better odds. Usually only the top 5-8 drivers are priced better than +1000, meaning they all are in the +300-+900 range. This varies, but this tends to be consistent on a race to race basis.
There are a number of different ways that you can bet on NASCAR. If you want to bet on an individual race, you will still have a few different options. You can either bet on any given drivers to win, or you can use props or head to head matchups. Say, for instance, that you think Kevin Harvick will finish better than Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In this situation, the odds would look something like this…
Kevin Harvick +130
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -110
In this matchup NASCAR bet, Harvick would be the slight underdog, paying $130 for every $100 wagered. So, if Harvick finishes 9th and Earnhardt, Jr. finishes 10th, you will win the bet with a wager on Harvick. If the inverse result occurs, a bet on Earnhardt, Jr. would be the winner. It really is just that simple, and these type of bets can make the race more interesting without needing an ultra specific event (driver winning) to occur.
If you want to place a longer term bet, you will have the same futures bet options as are available with other sports betting. The most common type of NASCAR bet is for the season championship. You will likely be able to guess who the handful of drivers are who have the best chance to win. The following is an example listing for odds to win NASCAR Season Championship…
ODDS TO WIN SPRINT CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
Kevin Harvick +500
Kyle Busch +650
Jimmie Johnson +650
Joey Logano +700
Brad Keselowski +900
Dale Earnhardt Jr. +900
Danica Patrick +30000
Some driver names were removed from this list, but the biggest favorite would pay 5:1 (+500) with the lowest odds being for Patrick, coming in at 300:1 (+30000). Since the NASCAR “playoff” format has been known to frequently change over the years, especially post 2000, you may find yourself in an advantageous betting situation. If you think a particular driver will thrive in a new format, you will have a chance to beat the sportsbooks at their own game by placing a championship winner, futures bet. A futures bet of this type will take a long time to pay out, but season long bets offer hedging opportunities and that much more action when it comes down to the final few races.
Racing is definitely not the most popular form of sports betting, especially when discounting horse racing, which we consider a separate thing altogether. With that said, the house edge is not that large, and it can be a beatable form of gambling if you are very sharp. Finding the underdogs with a reasonable chance of winning a race is the key to success. Only betting on favorites in motorsports events is the toughest way to make money. Many fans, as is true with most sports, will only bet on the most likely winners or their favorite drivers, and you can take advantage of this by betting on the dark horses (no pun intended).
Betting on a race, no matter whether it is INDY Car, Formula 1, NASCAR or otherwise, will make watching that much more exciting. If one or two of your drivers are in contention to win with 1, 5, 10, or even 20 laps left, you will feel like you are in the drivers seat. Don’t let anyone tell you that betting on racing isn’t worth it, because sports like this are where you will have the best chance to find an edge, since the online bookmakers don’t have as much action available to balance their sides properly.