How and Why NASCAR Fans Should Protect Their Hearing

Loud noises are a part of car racing, so it's smart to protect your ears

Alex Ford/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Everyone knows that NASCAR race cars are loud, yet many race fans choose to wear no hearing protection of any kind.

Do NASCAR races get loud enough that spectators should consider headphones or earplugs? The short answer is yes. Let's break down the numbers on how loud is too loud.

How Loud Are NASCAR Races?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a person can listen to a 90 decibel (dB) sound for 8 hours straight without any hearing damage. 90 dB is approximately as loud as a busy city street.

Adding just a few decibels cuts that safe time dramatically. At 115 dB you can only listen safely for 15 minutes. And if you spend two hours listening to sounds at 100 dB, the recommended recovery time to prevent long-term hearing loss is 16 hours of rest (or at least 16 hours away from very loud noises.

A NASCAR race car at full throttle measures approximately 130 dB. That is just one car, not a full field of 43 cars with their sounds echoing off of aluminum grandstands.

Protect Your Ears at the Racetrack

If you own a scanner, buy a decent headset with at least a 20dB noise reduction rating. If you are still on the fence about whether or not you need a scanner, maybe this is reason enough to go for it. Just don't turn up the volume more than you need to.

At an absolute minimum if you are going to a NASCAR race you need to use earplugs. Even buying them at the track they can be had for just a few dollars per pair. Think of it this way: If you can afford tickets to a race, parking, souvenirs, food and drinks you can probably afford a couple bucks to protect your health.