The term “Touring cars” may seem odd to American ears, since it is a term used mainly in Europe describing race cars that use the body shells from production 4-door sedans. Just about everything else in, or on, the touring car is either heavily modified or is designed for high-speed road and circuit racing. Wings are often added to touring cars. As you can imagine, the resulting car looks strange – sort of a family sedan on steroids! Certain technologies have been banned to limit the costs to builders and keep racing closed. The concept goes down well with European race fans that drive their own family sedans to the track to watch their race-bred counterparts duel it out on the track. Touring car racing is especially popular in Britain, Scandinavia, Germany and Australia.
Touring cars are raced on road courses and street circuits. The types of races run by touring cars include sprints and endurance races that can be 3 to 24 hours in length. The British Touring Car Championship and the World Touring Car Championship are just two examples of touring car races. The British Touring Car Championship traces its origin to 1958, and a variety of cars from different categories race together. The World Touring Car Championship began in 1987 and follows FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) regulations. Perhaps the top European touring car series is the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft. In this series, high tech racing machines are clothed in workday sedan bodies, with some parts such as transmissions and brakes coming right out of the production car parts bin. In the interest of fairness and safety, engines are limited to 470 horsepower – tame perhaps for a race car but not too shabby for a “family sedan”!