Pay drivers are common in many of the feeder series of motorsport, particularly in the GP2 Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, and IndyCar Series. However, there have been many pay drivers in Formula 1 (particularly at Arrows, Spyker F1 and until 2006, Minardi) and still are in NASCAR's Nextel Cup.
At one time F1 regulations regarding the changing of drivers during the course of a season were extremely liberal, which encouraged some teams to recruit a string of pay drivers to drive their cars, sometimes only for one or two races. Frank Williams Racing Cars (the predecessor to Frank Williams and Patrick Head's highly successful WilliamsF1 outfit) were particularly prolific with regard to the number of drivers they would use in a season - ten drivers drove for the team in both 1975 and 1976. Because of this the rules on driver changes were subsequently tightened.
Teams willing to accept them, such as in Formula 1, are often at the back of the grid and struggling financially. While a pay driver often brings an infusion of much needed funding, their terms often require share ownership and/or influence in the team's operations. This dependence can also be harmful, should a pay driver threaten to depart and pull funding after an acrimonious relationship. This could leave the team worse off than before, as previous poor results could make finding a sponsor difficult. This was the reason for the collapse of Arrows.
Former Formula One drivers Ricardo Rosset and Alex Yoong were notorious for how much money their families spent to finance their F1 racing careers. They or other pay drivers like Giovanni Lavaggi and Jean-Denis Deletraz are usually associated with poorer performances compared to those with paid drives. F1 Rejects is a site which showcases the driving careers of such driving failures of Formula 1. Another notoriously family-backed driver was Pedro Diniz, but throughout his career he managed to score some decent results compared to the other pay-drivers of the age, with a total of 10 points compared to the null tally of most of the others.
However, many successful drivers, such as multiple world champions Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, also started their careers as pay drivers but gradually worked their way up the racing ladder (although it is to be noted that they were regarded as highly talented and promising drivers before their F1 careers commenced, a trait missing in most typical pay drivers). Pay drivers who are notorious failures in open wheel series also tend to have successes in sports car racing or other types of motorsport.