The league has its roots in the Prohibtion era when moonshiners would soup up their cars to outrun the police in the Southeastern United States. After prohibiton was repealed, these former moonshiners began racing each other in their souped up cars. In 1948, they founded the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) because they were tired of scrupulous promoters who kept ropping off fans and drivers. After a period of growth from the league's founding to the 1980s, the league began to grow outside the Southeastern United States thanks in part to TV ratings and a driver by the name of Jeff Gordon as well as legend Dale Earnhardt. However, the league took a huge blow when Earnhardt was killed in stock car racing's premeir event, the Daytona 500 in 2001. Today, the lauge is one of the more popular sports leagues in the United States and is beginning to grow fanbases in other countries.
The league has three major series and several regional series. The main three are the Camping World Truck Series (Formerly Craftsman Truck) which, as the name says, races pick-up trucks. The second is the Nationwide Series, which is the secondary series in NASCAR. The third is the Sprint Cup, which is the league's premeir divison, and where you'll see some of the best auto racers in the world. As stated prviously, the league also has two Canadian and Mexican series, which are the Canadian Tire Series and the Corona Series, respectively.
The league sanctions stock car racing. "Stock" cars are a type of race car that resembles a street car, hence the term "stock", compared to Indy and Formula 1 cars, which are open-wheeled racers. The four body types are: Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Dodge Charger and Toyota Camry.
One of the main (and stupid) criticisms of NASCAR is that it is not a sport. In a sense, this is correct. It is a league, a sanctioning body, like FIA. Stock car racing is the sport it sanctions. Saying that NASCAR is not a sport is silly. If you say that, then you will have to say that auto racing is not a sport, either. NASCAR racing involves strategy, including when to make a pit stop, which groove to take on the track and how to manage fuel and tires. Also, as some people have said on UD, going 3 g's in these cars takes a major toll on a person's body. The drivers are some of the most athletic people around.
Another dumb criticism is that it is "boring". It is almost a guarantee that anyone who says this has most likely never been to a race live and has only seen it on TV. Being at a NASCAR-sanctioned event is one of the most thrilling moments in anyone's life. You have not lived until you see a train of 43 cars roar past you either when the green flag waves or when they're simply passing by. TV just does not capture the excitement of being at a live race.
A legitimate criticism, however, is that there are too many oval races, which is somewhat valid. NASCAR does need to add more road course races to the Sprint Cup schedule. While the oval tracks range from 1/2-mile short tracks to 2 1/2-mile "superspeedways", road courses will liven the series up.
Another silly criticism of NASCAR is that it is only for rednecks. In reality, NASCAR has expanded outside its birthplace, the American Southeast, to areas around the United States, while at the same time remaining true to its roots. At the same time, the sport's fanbase has grown, as well. The fanbase is now diverse and includes people in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Canada, Mexico and even among whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians. There are also NASCAR fans in Europe. They're just not as known. Many people who do not identify as rednecks will tell you that they are proud NASCAR fans. In fact, the are driver in NASCAr who were born outside the United States, Juan Pablo Montoya being one example.
While this definition is a good defense of NASCAR, it is not perfect and one should simply look at the league's strengths before making a swift and foolish judgement. Anyone who wants to know more should go http://www.nascar.com or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASCAR