For questions generally about motor racing that takes place on a paved hard surface, as opposed to off-road racing. For questions about the class of bicycle racing, see 'road-biking'. For running races on city streets, see 'marathon'.

Road racing is generally defined as a form of racing for which the primary raceway is a hard, paved surface, often called a "track" if the surface and venue are designed solely for this type of event. This is opposed to "off-road" or "dirt track" racing where the surface is loose dirt, or "cross-country" racing where the competitors travel across natural terrain for long distances.

Other than marathon running, which typically takes place on paved streets, and road bicycling, featuring several well-known races including the Tour du France, most road racing involves motor vehicles. Well known motor racing associations include:

  • NASCAR, the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, which sponsors a series of races primarily on oval tracks for teams of professional drivers and maintenance crews using purpose-built closed-wheel cars. The primary championship series is the Sprint Cup Series, formerly the Winston Cup, with the Nationwide Series also held as a "minor league" series with reduced-horsepower cars, attracting junior racers looking to enter the Sprint Cup. NASCAR is the most popular spectator motor sport in the United States.

  • IRL, or the Indy Racing League, currently the primary North American open-wheel racing league. This league sponsors well-known races throughout the US and Canada, including oval-track races like the Indy 500 and circuit-track races on proving ground circuits like Laguna Seca and street courses like in Toronto. Drivers often use this league as a stepping stone to or from NASCAR or Formula 1 racing.

  • FIA, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, which is the primary governing body for international motor racing classes. The FIA oversees the top international open-wheel racing class, Formula 1, as well as Formula Two, GT1, GT3, rally and touring car championships, and numerous smaller events such as hill-climbing, drag racing and autocross. Formula 1 is the most popular spectator motorsport in most of Europe and South America.

  • IMSA, the International Motor Sports Association, a competing association to the FIA, overseeing several closed-wheel classes including the American Le Mans Series, two GT3 classes, and several smaller classes using manufacturer-specific car designs, including Formula V and Formula Ford.

  • NHRA, the National Hot Rod Association, which is loosely affiliated with the FIA and oversees most classes of straight-line drag racing in the United States and Canada.