By on June 14, 2008

kylebusch-1.JPGFew things in this world are as dramatic as the start of a NASCAR race. War, for instance. Or the launch of a Saturn V rocket. The crowd rises from their seats in anticipation. The starter stands in his box with flag in hand as the bestickered phalanx of cars rounds turn four. After the pace car scurries from view into pit lane the violence of dozens of highly tuned V8 engines is unleashed in unison. You can sense the invisible force of the sound approaching.  Like others, I reverently remove my radio headphones so that I can fully ingest the aural assault. I feel the high frequency vibration in the aluminum stadium seats beneath my feet. And then it hits – a sound so big I hear it with my entire body. You don’t get that on TV.

These starts, which are repeated after every caution, are like hits of crack to NASCAR addicts. Add the excitement of aggressive bump-n-grind driving, a few spectacular crashes, and a dramatic finish, and the crowd could care less that the racers only turn left.

trucks.JPGMy latest foray into NASCAR society occurred at the Craftsman Truck Series Sam’s Town 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) with my youngest son. Forget every exaggerated stereotype you might have of NASCAR fans. Real Truck Series fans outdo them all. A regular NASCAR car event looks like an NAACP convention compared to the gene pond from whence Truck Series fans hail. Equally homogeneous: the choice of vehicle that they drive to the stadium. That would be pickups.

TMS speakers blared alternative metal music while fifty-one thousand patrons found their seats. I don’t guess that many in the crowd have songs by Disturbed, Slipknot, or Mastodon on their iPods at home, but somehow the music is an appropriate prelude to thirty-five 700 horsepower 358 cu-in pushrod V8 engines screaming at full voice.

tms.JPGAs second hand cigarette smoke wafted all about us, my host, a longtime Texas Motor Speedway season ticket holder, commented, “I know I need to lose a few pounds but in this crowd I feel skinny.” I don’t mean to disparage my fellow racing fans. They are what they are and proud of it. They’re knowledgeable of the sport and quite hospitable– that is unless your last name is Busch (Bush is okay). As in Kyle Busch, the most hated man in North Texas.

Busch is vilified as a dirty, nay evil, driver. Boos erupted as the man sporting a black cowboy hat was introduced. The NASCAR points leader was set to start in last position because he was a late driver change for the #51 Miccosukee Resorts truck. He was also in the midst of a very busy weekend, attempting to win a trifecta of races in three different classes at three different tracks on the same weekend. Pre-race gossip centered on the scandalous prediction that the bad boy had made before the race; that he would break into the top ten within the first fifty laps.

gunbroker.JPGNASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pickups share little in common with the Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150, Dodge Ram and Toyota Tundra pickups that share their names. Sponsors such as Lumber Liquidators, Construction Corps, Power Stroke Diesel by International, Road Loans, and, my favorite, GunBroker.com, reflect the rural working class values. 

Pole position went to newcomer, Justin Marks. After the first dozen laps, five trucks withdrew due to mechanical problems. The race fell into a predictable rhythm: race for about twenty laps (until tires become worn), crash, pit under a caution flag, cleanup, lather, rinse, repeat.

thewinner.JPGRon Hornaday Jr. in the #33 Camping World Chevrolet emerged early in what appeared to be the fasted truck in the field. True to his word, Kyle Busch made quick work of the rest of the field. By lap 55, Busch was in the number nine spot. From that point forward he seemed content to lurk between fifth and seventh place without pressing the leaders.  But every spectator knew where he was at all times and that he could surge to the top at will.

With eleven laps to go, Busch leapfrogged into second place. Tension built for an epic battle. Concerned fans held three fingers high with both hands in support of #33 Hornaday. This night good triumphed over evil. Hornaday’s car was just too fast; reaching the green-white-checkered flag 0.283 seconds ahead of Busch.

As for my son and me, we had a great time. And although our seats were nestled in the shade beneath the luxury boxes I think my neck turned a little bit red.

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62 Comments on “TTAC Doesn’t Do Motorsports – Except When We Do...”


  • avatar
    kansei

    Nascar?? am I on the right site?

    I thought when TTAC broke down and wrote about motorsports it would be about a real motorsport, like Grand Am racing, SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge, etc.. but nascar?

  • avatar

    kansei:

    William C. wrote this without foreknowledge of TTAC’s no-motorsports rule.

    When it appeared in Frank’s in-box, Franky read him the riot act. William C (a.k.a. Billy Bob C Dot) appealed. It’s a lifestyle piece is what it is! We said, welllllll, jest doan do it agin– and conveniently forgot that Frank dissed NASCAR a few times afore.

    So now you know.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    I think you guys should do an editorial on why F1 should come back to the USA :)

  • avatar
    Skooter

    Apologies to those elitists who feel Nascar is “below” them. Perhaps a piece on those choreagraphed parades known as Formula 1?

  • avatar
    miked

    This is a great description of what it’s like at a NASCAR race. There’s just something special about the sounds and smells that you cannot get on TV. Plus there’s just something very American about NASCAR. Everyone should go to a race, just like everyone should go to a baseball game. It’s really a core part of the American culture.

  • avatar
    Theodore

    I don’t get the apparent animosity between fans of different forms of racing (witness the “real motorsport” and “elitists” comments that have already appeared.) I like ‘em all. I don’t necessarily get into all of them (motorcycles don’t do anything for me) but I can appreciate and respect all forms of motorsport.

    I grew up on NASCAR and the Indy 500, caught the F1 and sports car bugs, have been known to watch WRC, and just recently started getting into drag racing. I get as much of a charge of an Audi R10 diesel prototype as I do out of a Yates Ford Fusion or a BMW-Sauber or a John Force Mustang. I have Le Mans on my TV right now and this evening I’ll watch NASCAR. They all have their appeal. It’s ALL good racing.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I think you guys should do an editorial on why F1 should come back to the USA :)

    F1 is like soccer and the metric system. There is not significant interest for it within the U.S.

    Seeing how you have the upper echelons of leadership within F1 who have no desire to change that, plus the fact the open-wheel racing is pretty much dead in the U.S., tanks to the Champ Car/IRL wars, there’s no reason why F1 should want to return to the U.S.

    Given the successful reception rally racing got when it was featured in the X-games, along with the popular trend of x-gamers trying their had at it (first Travis Pastrana, now BMX’er Dave Mirra), the WRC has a better shot of making inroads into the American landscape than F1 does.

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    Eh…give me WRC or give me nothing at all. I love watching most motorsports, but I only have real respect for those guys. I’ve convinced myself that I could (somehow) drive anything from a P1 Audi to a Craftsman truck around a track and have fun. I watch a Ford Focus fly ten feet in the air and then slide into a tree and rock lined turn on some hill in Greece and my ass puckers in fear. The POV shots you see are enough to make you find Jesus, and quick.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    I’ve raced stockcars since I was 14 years old, and I have to admit I’m pleasently shocked at the LACK of elitist, bullshit “it’s just going around in circles” and “bla bla redneck” comments on this Editorial so far.

    NASCAR has lots of problems, in terms of politics, poor track choices, poor officiating and bullshit cars–but stockcar in general is awesome and in terms of excitement, easily up there with rally racing or road racing or anything else. I’m a fan of ALL motorsport and pretty much watch ALL motorsport, but stockcars will always be my love.

    And the Craftsman Truck Series in particular is probably the BEST National stockcar series in the world. Instead of watered down vanilla politically correct drivers like the Cup series, they have hotshot rookies and grizzled veterans duking it out. Instead of 500 and 600 mile races where there’s long patches of “just driving around”, followed by 20 laps of insanity at the end, Truck races are 100, 150, or 200 miles, last about 2 hours, and have the drivers going for the win EVERY lap (yet still long enough to have pit and tire strategies)… And, perhaps most importantly, they have ONE, HALF-HOUR long pre-show, not eighty-five different news shows and three hour pre-shows and two hour post-shows. The Truck series “saturation” is just right.

    Regardless, I do agree that seeing the shows live is a whole other experience. But it doesn’t have to be NASCAR–head out to your local short track with the family one of these weekends and help support local grassroots racers like me–the excitement and competition is just as great! :)

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    also, for what it’s worth–You were in TEXAS to watch the Truck race, so of course the crowd is gonna be full of overweight pickup owners. You’re not likely to see NEARLY as many of those at a race at Dover.

  • avatar
    gfen

    I find _all_ racing to be exceedingly boring, but after that first paragraph I think I’d like to goto a NASCAR race at least once in my life.

    As a non-motorsports fan, it does come across as a lifestyle piece and I enjoyed it, immensely.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    I hate NASCAR and I live in Martinsville, VA so don’t think I’m not exposed to it enough. Sure I’m an elitist, but that’s not why I hate it. I hate it because it’s boring. Kinda like Pro Wrestling on four wheels since it’s really all about the drivers and “personalities” now. The race cars are about as interesting as that $999 used 1985 Malibu on the seedy car lot you drive by on the way to work. “Stock” cars, of course, have nothing stock about them. The fiberglass shell that looks like a melted soap sculpture of a car over 1970′s technology doesn’t get me interested in the least. However, on the flip side, I think that up through the early 70′s stock car racing was thrilling. The cars on the track were much more like the street versions and race technologies often filtered down to the cars the average Joe went out and bought. And drivers like my personal favorite, Curtis Turner, were about as out-sized as you can get, not media creations shucking for their sponsors. As old guys usually say, those were the days. Wish I was alive back then.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    It takes a helluva lot more skill to pilot one of those bricks with comparatively skinny tires (NASCAR car or truck) than it does to pilot one of those little 1200 pound go-karts with their 2000 pounds of downforce. There’s a LOT more driving involved to keep yourselves away from each other. Those gay-looking F1 chumps can go away, for all we care.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    beetlebug:

    where to begin…

    #1 – NASCAR is not all stockcar racing. You find it “pro wrestling” because the cup series HAS cultivated the “personalities.” That’s only one of several dozen forms of stockcar racing. Take your blinders off please.

    #2 – NASCAR uses steel bodies, not fibreglass. Try again.

    #3 – Stockcars have not been about “stock” since nineteen-dickety-two. If you prefer to refer to them as silhouette racers, go ahead. If you want stock vehicles, watch SPEED GT or Touring Car. They’re called “stockcars” because that’s what they were originally called and there’s no reason to change the name.

    Having said that, the current NASCAR (again, NASCAR, not stockcar racing) formula for cars sucks, especially the “Car of Tomorrow” which the drivers hate, and if they have anything to say about it, it’ll change soon enough. I would like to see them keep the current chassis formula, the same engines BUT add fuel injection, and go back to stock-appearing bodies, like the 80s.

    The lack of technology is another argument that is pointless–not ALL racing is about advancing technology. If you want cars racing against cars, you watch F1 or LeMans. If you want drivers racing against drivers, you watch stockcar racing.

    Once again, the dislikes you bring up apply to NASCAR *CUP* Racing and nothing else. They don’t hold true to virtually every other form of stockcar racing around the country.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    So Busch was able to pass 33 people from last place to finish 2nd? In a race where all the cars are supposed to be the same? Is the talent disparity that bad?

    Does anyone care to explain?

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    I’m conflicted about NASCAR.

    On the one hand, I have zero respect for the administration or the vehicles, and little respect for the drivers. The tracks are as anodyne as a strip of asphault can possibly be, short of a runway with two cones. Nor am I particularly keen to associate myself with the fanbase.

    But when you’re actually there, the excitement and the atmosphere are intense. The sound, otherworldly. Anyone with gasoline in their veins would be pressed not to get a rise out of a NASCAR race. The real deal is worlds apart from what actually makes it to television.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    I left NASCAR in the 80′s, before the computer cars and pretty boys. It has been so whored out it boggles the mind. If you dont believe it, try listening to a post race interview as they try to mention each sponser by name and tell you nothing about the race. Now we have racial discrimination suits this week, just when you thought NASCAR could’nt get any stranger. Are you kidding me? Dont miss that crap at all. What must real men like David Pearson think?

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    seoultrain:

    the cars are indeed supposed to be equal, but like any motorsport, creative interpretation of the rules isn’t “cheating” until you get caught–the truck he drives is the class of the field, at least in the first half of the season. Domination happens occasionally.

    KnightRT:

    Anyone who understands a SINGLE thing about racing physics knows that it’s every bit as difficult to make a car go quickly around an oval as it is on a road course, and just as difficult to drive–it’s a DIFFERENT kind of skill, not LESS skill. This is especially true for cars like the Sprint Cup or Truck Series vehicles–they have entirely too much power for the 9″ wide tires they run on. The fact that the track is wide does not necessarily mean there’s 3 lines that are equally as fast around the track–some ovals have two racing lines that are virtually equal depending on chassis setup, some tracks (like Martinsville) have only one, making passing EXCEEDINGLY difficult.

    I could sit here and talk for hours about oval track chassis setup–getting around an oval quickly and competitively is NOT “anodyne”, simplistic, easy, or “less technical” than a road course. It’s just different. Period.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    And I think the almost complete lack of success by some of the best road racers in the world at the top stockcar levels is proof enough of that. Ask any one of them that has tried–they come away humbled and surprised.

  • avatar
    Samir

    Let me know as soon as you change your mind about that rule, RF.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I went to Watkins Glen last year for the Rolex Series and Nascar weekend. I refused to attend an oval race b/c to me it’s so boring (only oval race I attended was when CART went to Chicago). Anyway from the various “stop smoking”, Viagra, RV and mobile home displays I was quite sick to my stomach. The amount of trash and the coolers full of piss cheap beer…for instance I saw what looked like a 200lb 10 year old boy who yanked out a generic vanilla ice cream from his cooler. His dad was shirtless, skinny and had his Bud in the little coolie and the wife was pregnant and had 3 other little kids with them. Teeth missing, likely illiterate as they threw their garbage on the ground …even heard the piece de resistance “that thing got a hemi!” come out of the guy’s mouth.

    I heard all this talk about how white collar and urban people are starting to watch NASCAR…didn’t see anyone there who looked the part except the Sprint employees lost in a sea of rednecks.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Screw the racing. I wanna see a cage match between the NASCAR guys and the F1 ponces. After that, toss the respective drivers in and see what they’re made of.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Allow me to add one more thought. I mentioned to a coworker (a born and bread Texan – and financial analyst) that I had been to the NASCAR truck race. His response? “If there’s not a shotgun on a window gun rack and a dog in the back, it ain’t really truck racin’.”

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Before anybody gets crazy about stereotyping NASCAR, go see a race first. Will you find the majority of the fans fat? Yep. Lots of blue collar folks driving pickups who have die hard brand loyalty? Mostly right wing? Technology that is barely above stone knives and bearskins? Yes, yes, and yes. I am none of those things and yet I find the races electrifying. Today, talking NASCAR at work has become acceptable, if somewhat misunderstood. So, the heck with the redneck drivel. If you enjoy things mechanical and like racing in general, hit the track with an open mind. Yes, the first thought you may have is “wow, we are going to have a MAJOR health crisis in 25 years,” but enjoy the tailgating, which is really no more “redneck” than a bunch of jerk guys at a football game, and get to your seat. There is something distinctly American about the experience…the flybys, 80,000 fans standing for the national anthem, brashness and loudness…so get to a race. I’ll bet that you will be watching races on TV from then on.

  • avatar
    beetlebug

    tigeraid:

    Well I certainly am not one to not admit I was wrong, especially having been corrected.

    Although I had some trouble trying to find a complete definition of “Stockcar” in the widest sense I do see that it’s loosely used to describe other racing leagues even when they have a different official title. However, since NASCAR is the “National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing” it seems to win hands down as the top organization referred to as “Stockcar” (even if there are trucks etc. thrown in as well).

    NASCAR bodies are not fiberglass as I wrongly stated. But “built from flat sheet metal”. Of course to me that actually makes molded fiberglass seem slightly higher tech.

    I also agree that not all racing is about advancing technlogy. Technology is one of the major things I enjoy in racing. However, I enjoy more seeing cars based on streetable vehicles racing (even if loosely so) like WRC or the different Touring Car series.

    Racing to me has always meant a combination of cars and drivers, remove my interest in one of those and it doesn’t seem all that great. I think that’s why famous drivers have close associations with the cars they drove, like Jim Clark with Lotus or Fangio with Alfa Romeo (or Maserati and Mercedes if you like.)

  • avatar
    esldude

    Dave DeSpain last week had some discussion of the importance of passing for good racing. To me it is asinine to think passing isn’t part of good racing. Before F1 dropped the brake and traction control it had become a technological exhibition parade. Unless an engine blew or pit mistake was made you knew the race results from qualifying for at least the top 8 positions.

    Nascar has more passing in general. To me the Truck series is among the best racing. I agree with the fellow that said it is the right length. Around 2 hours is long enough for strategy, but short enough the racing intensity stays high. Also like was mentioned, some of the top drivers in the world have gone into Nascar and found it anything but a cakewalk.

    But that is why they have different kinds of racing. No need to puke over the type someone else likes.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Now you have to go to Talledega

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I too, find racing boring. It’s in the same category as watching soccer or basketball, reading most car reviews, and pressure washing my driveway.

    But this “lifestyle piece” was nicely done; thanks! Just don’t make a habit of it, okay?

    I liked the Saturn V reference. I know people who used to work at the Cape during that period. The current space shuttle, as brilliant and glorious as it is upon launch, is a lone birthday candle compared to the sheer force, fire, and brimstone from the Saturn V. Some will say that when that rocket launched, the earth moved.

    It’s hard to imagine any car race approaching that kind of power.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    Anyone who understands a SINGLE thing about racing physics knows that it’s every bit as difficult to make a car go quickly around an oval as it is on a road course…

    Sorry, I don’t believe you. It’s a 3400 pound car with 700 HP that turns in one direction. F1 cars are 1200 lbs and 900 HP with peaky small-displacement engines and handling that swings dramatically with speed and downforce. There are turns on F1 tracks that require the drivers to withstand 5G for ten seconds at a time or more. The racing line calculus is no less demanding than NASCAR. No track has the same layout, and room for error is minimal. It’s simply in another league.

    I won’t dispute that NASCAR requires a certain skill set that may not be emphasized in other racing disciplines, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all of equal difficulty. You can teach a basketball player bass fishing; good luck getting a fisherman to dunk. How many NASCAR drivers can you name that have won an F1 race?

  • avatar
    bluecon

    The F1 racers aren’t doing so well on NASCAR.
    Evil young Busch just may be the best driver in the world. And I remember going to the Daytona 500 many years ago when the now much loved Dale Earnhardt was dominant and the fans were wearing FADE(Fans Against Dale Earnhardt) shirts.

  • avatar
    Matthew Potena

    I think NASCAR and F1 appeal to different aspects in the motorsports fans. If you want high speed, lots of color and noise, and aren’t so concerned with the purity of racing, then NASCAR is for you. When I say purity, I refer to the overzealous use of the yellow flag in NASCAR, although F1′s use of the Safety Car is beginning to be used in this fashion. If you are more interested in the design and high technology of the cars, then F1 will appeal to you. F1 cars have new wings, turning vanes, suspension changes, etc. usually every race. To compare a 3400 pound steel tube framed car, with a live rear axel and carburetors with a 1200 pound carbon fiber car with a 2.4 liter V8 which is rev restricted to 19,000 rpm and has carbon fiber brakes, suspension, bodywork and in many instances, carbon fiber transmission cases, is ridiculous. While there is not as much passing in F1 (although Massa’s pass of both Kovalainen and Barrichello at the same time at the hairpin was certainly enjoyable) the nature of the tracks and the cars prevent this. I have been to a NASCAR race and many F1 races, and while I do watch NASCAR (and ALMS, WRC, etc) it doesn’t appeal to me nearly as much as F1. Finally, I think the focus of the rulesmakers in NASCAR focus on “the show”.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I think the focus of the rulesmakers in NASCAR focus on “the show”.…

    Tis true, which in my opinion has resulted in moving too much of the focus off the racing. Today’s NASCAR has been sanitized too much, and while I do feel the focus on driver safety is a good thing, too often caution calls for “debris on the track” seem to be used to pull the cars back together for more of a photo finish kind of win. The advertiser dollars seem to have become the focus more than anything else.

    What has not been mentioned is the change in the way new drivers have made it to the tracks. The old “ABC” path is gone. The chances for some new blood breaking into the sport are more or less dead. Today’s drivers are brought up through the racing “families”…or are bought in like some of the F1 guys were. There is little chance that new names will be on the tracks in the near future.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I like this “lifestyle” piece. We should have more motorsports -er, lifestyle, pieces.

    Bottom line for me is the .283 seconds separating 1st and 2nd. It’s close racing, which makes it exciting.

    If you think fat people and pickups are prevalent in TX, wait ’till you go to M.I.S. – the TX of the North.

    Americans are pretty fat in general. I wonder if the NASCAR fan base is really fatter than NFL fans?

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    KnightRT:

    You just further proved your ignorance. “They’re 3400 lb cars with 700 hp that only turn left.”

    First off, they make about 900 hp, the same as an F1 car.

    Secondly, yes, they’re 3400 lbs–which makes them more difficult to race. Heavier car = poorer handling. They also have tires that are woefully inadequate for even FIVE hundred horsepower, never mind 900. Formula 1 cars also have this funny thing called DOWNFORCE, which allows them to stop and turn with absolutely unbelievable force, versus a stockcar, which has a little bit of downforce, and has to be muscled through the turns.

    You’re wrong, 100%, and your ignorance of the basic science behind it is obvious. A car that handles WORSE, has LESS traction, has LESS downforce, has NO driver aids (I know, F1 has none now either), has away more torque and a wider power band, will be MORE DIFFICULT to drive than a car that handles BETTER, has MORE traction, has MORE downforce, and has driver aids.

    Not to say that driving an F1 car is a walk in the park either–but it’s a completely different set of skills. Driving a stockcar requires great cardio and stamina to deal with the heat and grueling race distances, but F1 drivers are at a whole other level of athleticism to deal with the G-forces… they also have to have amazing reflexes.

    Each skillset is different. Stockcar drivers know how to deal with endurance, they know how to DRAFT better than any other driver in the world, they know how to handle pit strategy, and they know how to handle TRAFFIC, which is something rarely seen in other motorsports. Drag racers know how to handle massive amounts of power and have amazing reaction times. Rally racers arguably have the best raw car control and reflexes, as well as listening to pace notes. Endurance sports car drivers have a little of all of these.

    Again, DIFFERENT skill set, not more or LESS skill. Michael Schumacher cannot jump into an NHRA Top Fuel Dragster and run a 4.25 second 1/4 mile. Marcus Gronholm can not jump on a Kawasaki dirt bike and go beat Travis Pastrana. It’s a complete learning process that you have to start over.

    How many stockcar drivers have gone into F1 to be successful? Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones and AJ Foty all started racing on dirt ovals.

    How many F1 drivers have gone into NASCAR to be succesful? Absolutely none, unless you count Mario Andretti’s ONE win. And he can drive anything.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    Also, don’t you DARE bring up Scott Speed as “proof.” He’ll be ready for the big time in a few years, but he’s made a complete ass of himself on several occasions despite his Truck series win. He said in victory lane that they’re “pretty easy to drive”… Then he came out the next week, wrecked the points leader on the STRAIGHTAWAY, then put himself in the wall like a dufus a few laps later.

    Then at the ARCA race at Pocano he dove into turn 1 four-wide on a restart and wrecked his teammate. He was more humble in his post-race interview this weekend, pointing that he’s “not quite as good as these other drivers when it comes to traffic.” I guess his team told him to STFU and be a little more respectful, he has a LOT to learn.

    All I have to say is, IROC from 1970 through to the early 90s had the best drivers all over the world (before it became a joke), and featured both road racing AND ovals in equally prepared cars. And only two, count them TWO races in the entire 20 year run were won by F1 drivers–and one was Mario Andretti, and he wins everything.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    Oh, and as far as the stereotypes… I race a street stock Monte Carlo on rough-and-tumble short tracks around Ontario. I’m 28 years old, engaged to be married, a home owner with a college education in Computer Sciences… I wear normal clothing that fits me correctly, I have all my teeth, I enjoy the occasional beer but I’m in no way a heavy drinker, I prefer classic rock and metal and despise country music, and I’m a huge racing history buff, everything from NASCAR to Formula 1 to LeMans. Stockcar racers are not all rednecks. Sounds like some of you have just had bad experiences.

    In a way I WISH NASCAR was still all rednecks. Back before the late 90s, NASCAR was BADASS. It was full of grizzled shit-talking veterans who had no problem getting out of the car and beating the crap out of someone for being an idiot, or telling a reporter to go to hell. Redneck NASCAR had CHARACTER, it was unique. Current Cup racing is a politically correct bastardized version.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    This years F1 has been fantastic with several constructor & driver championship lead changes. If anyone has been turned off of F1 because it is “boring”, they should turn it on back this year at least for a few races.

    I also have occasionally been watching AMA superbike (I caught the practice up in eklhard lake recently). Those guys have nerves of steel holy cow. I like motorcycling but don’t think I’d have the nerves to race like they do.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I won’t dispute that NASCAR requires a certain skill set that may not be emphasized in other racing disciplines, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all of equal difficulty. You can teach a basketball player bass fishing; good luck getting a fisherman to dunk. How many NASCAR drivers can you name that have won an F1 race?

    Based on this statement, one would think that Juan Pablo Montoya would’ve wiped the floor when he jumped from F1 to NASCAR especially since he has previous oval track experience, but so far, his entry into NASCAR has been the least successful part of his career, compared to his years spent with CART and Formula 1

    I think it’s safe to say that it’s not as easy to drive in NASCAR as one would believe.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    tigeraid:

    In any level of racing, the drivers push the cars to the traction limit. In F1, downforce makes that limit stratospheric. If they were using the downforce to drive within a NASCAR performance envelope, then I’d agree that the F1 car could be more easily controlled. They don’t. F1 drivers run right to the limit of the F1 performance envelope, which is leagues beyond NASCAR.

    Phrased another way, I’ve had cars with garbage handling and poor tires that required a firm hand and vigilance to keep on the road, but I have no illusions that such a skill would prepare me for the physical and mental rigor of F1.

    Again, DIFFERENT skill set, not more or LESS skill.

    I can’t speak for you, but I’m talking about driving, not the ability to listen to pace notes or the like. That sort of thing can taught far more easily than car control.

    I’m unfamiliar with Scott Speed. As to the success of F1 drivers in NASCAR, we’ll soon find out. At least three, in addition to JPM, have defected from F1.

    Quasimondo:

    Based on this statement, one would think that Juan Pablo Montoya would’ve wiped the floor when he jumped from F1 to NASCAR…

    Not necessarily. There’s a learning curve for every sport, and I’m not convinced that his driving skills are what’s holding him back. He won two races in 2007.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The learning curve for Montoya should be less steep (if there’s any curve at all) considering he’s had oval track experience. After all, this is a driver who took the FedEx championship in his rookie year with CART, and won the Indy 500 in his second year of professional racing, leading for over 3/4th of the race.

    If his driving skills aren’t holding him back, then what is?

    Loren Wallace putting him in the walls?

  • avatar
    Orian

    I’d so love to see NASCAR start their fields the way Formula 1 starts. Oh the carnage that would ensue. Oh, and all races should include both LEFT and RIGHT turns.

    Now that would be entertaining.

    Oh, and for those knocking the F1 racers in NASCAR, put them in a good team and see what happens – the results will be different. But then again that is just like F1 isn’t it? Those with the bigger budgets win 95% of the time.

  • avatar
    Orian

    the edit would stick – hmm..

    Anyhow, for those knocking the F1 drivers in NASCAR now, what do you think the result would be if they were driving for Gibbs, Hendrick, or Roush? My point is NASCAR really isn’t different than F1 – those with the biggest budgets win 95% of the time.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    I’m certainly not knocking them–unlike some close-minded goofs, I understand talent, and they have it. There’s a learning curve, they’ll learn it and be successful.

    And KnightRT, once again, that statement just drives home my point. Driving any car at a given limit is indeed difficult–the demands on an F1 driver are great. They’re also great on a stockcar driver. They’re simply different demands. The “limit” of an F1 car in terms of g-forces is far greater than a stockcar. Great. The temperature in a stockcar is far greater than an F1 car. The reflexes required to drive an F1 car are far greater than a stockcar. Well, being successful at drafting in traffic in a stockcar is far greater than that of an F1 car. Not less skill, not more skill. And I repeat, in just about every single example of “Formula 1 drivers vs American stockcar or Indy drivers”, more often than not the results are perfectly equal. Talent is talent, no matter where it came from.

    And yes Montoya won two races last year–one was a fuel mileage race (yee haw) at a road course in the Cup series, and the other one was the Busch series race in Mexico, which he only won by wrecking his teammate (F1 drivers seem to have a penchant for that)… And when it comes to the Busch series, if you’re racing for a Cup team in that series, you’re driving equipment twice as fast as the rest of the field. As far as I’m concerned, Montoya is not “successful” in NASCAR until he wins at a difficult racetrack by actually driving and passing cars.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Horses – courses
    stokes – folks

    All are pretty good on giant flatscreen tv in HD (even drag racing)

    the problem with nascar is too many so so races which seem designed to increase exposure of the fans to the major sponsors but with F1 its too many crap curcuits like magny cours, hungaroring, the aborted hockenheim china, malaysia (Herman Tilke has a lot to answer for)

    and you think american rednecks are bad? you head to the nordschleiffe with 200,000 german rednecks or the worst of the bunch, what seems like half a million pissed aussies at the Top of the Mountain at MT Panorama for the running of the Great Antipodean Taxi Tour otherwise known as Bathurst. The infeild at Telladega is tame compared to that.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I think many kinds of car racing are boring, including NASCAR. But the social element is interesting. And when somebody like Bill CM writes about NASCAR in such a colorful and precise and non-insiderish manner, I’m glad that TTAC publishes it.

  • avatar
    Mitch Yelverton

    There actually are some F1 articles here on TTAC. Just search.

  • avatar

    my GOD I love going to races.

    And like what’s been said before – you just can’t capture it on TV

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    To each his own. I’ve been to demo derbys and figure eights. That’s not about racing so much as getting plastered with friends. To me NASCAR is a grown up version of that: faster, louder, brasher and ass-loads more expensive. I finally get it. But I don’t take it too seriously as I consider it somewhat crooked and like the WWE on wheels. But any fan of motorsport should understand it’s not just about going round and round real fast.

    I prefer grand prix style racing (and will likely never go to an F1 race unless someone else is paying), but pure speed a la Indycar is cool too.

    But I consider superbike racing (to a lesser extent, MotoGP [sigh, I really miss the 500-cc two strokes, and the 1000-cc homologation from two years ago]) the pinnicle of motosport. Best of all, a race is only an hour or so. Isle of Mann TT? There’s a throwback to an earlier age. Must see before I die.

    All different disciplines and different fanbases. I don’t get boat or airplane racing, but no need to bash…plenty of room for all, as long as corporate sponsors exist.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I actually like the article. The WWF vibe described gave me a laugh. Okay, don’t do it again.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    It has always annoyed me that truck racing does not involve racing around with actual cargo in the pickup bed. But then again, so many pickups out on the streets have nothing in the bed, so I guess it’s par for the course.

    I can see it now Announcer 1: “Tough luck for truck number four. He drew the straw for the cubic yard of mulch”. Announcer 2: “I dunno. I’d hate to be be draftin’ him down the back stretch.”

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    NASCAR = BORING. I haven’t watched Speedvision in a couple years because they ditched all racing that was interesting and took up NASCAR.

    Did I mention boring? BORING! BORING BORING!

    Now take those same cars and put them on the Nurburing and I’ll watch.

    God NASCAR bores me to frustration just sitting here and THINKING about it. AT LEAST put some friggin’ right hand turns on the tracks!!! Use the in-field for something other than parking???

    Close off the highway and let them race across the county or something at least! PLEASE!

    When I go see the inlaws for the weekend and they insist on sitting through ANOTHER NASCAR race we just gather up the kids and go to the park for a couple hours or go see a movie. It’s about as exciting as golf but not as interesting. Ang is really boring too!

    And then there are American sports commentators. IS there ANYTHING they have ever said that was remotely interesting in any sporting event?

    The comment above that mentioned interviews where the driver has the mention every sponsor is just about right. And the similarity to WWF is about right too.

    WRC is my favorite hands down. The Dakar Rally (or ANY rally really) is my 2nd favorite. F1 not so much but better than NASCAR at least.

    There are such similarities between the auto industry and NASCAR. I see Detroit’s average car as being like a NASCAR – lot of horsepower, thirsty, noisy, crap in curves, technology retricted to about 1962, and only a fraction of what they COULD be. At least the F1 guys have these tiny little engines which they have tweaked to death to get every last bit of power and a chassis also tweaked to death. Even the WRC cars are more advanced than the damn NASCARs.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I took a friend to a local Rally America event.

    He thought it sucked. Go into the woods, get eaten by bugs. Wait, wait, wait, car zooms by, wait, wait wait, car zooms by, wait wait wait, car zooms by. If there’s a crash, we rarely see it, and it could be an hour before another car comes through if it’s a serious crash. And that was just day one.

    Somehow, I don’t think he’ll be coming with me to another rally event.

  • avatar
    nino

    Driving a stockcar requires great cardio and stamina to deal with the heat and grueling race distances,

    Then explain all the old, fat guys in various forms of “stock car” racin’?

    Give me stock car racing from back in the day when teams had to buy their race car off a dealer’s lot.

    NASCAR is fixed (yes, I said it). It has been since the early 80s when the only car with the camera inside it won the Daytona 500 (1984 Cale Yarborough)

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    F1 isn’t exactly sin free in the ‘fixed’ department either, lest we forget the farce known as the 2002 Austrian GP.

  • avatar
    nino

    F1 isn’t exactly sin free in the ‘fixed’ department either, lest we forget the farce known as the 2002 Austrian GP.

    But that was a team thing not the organization doing the fixing.

    NASCAR the organization does the fixing.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    nino:

    Old fat guys? There aren’t any. There USED to be, and they were badass and fun to watch. They also looked damn near destroyed by the end of the race.

    In the top three current NASCAR series, I can think of ONE driver who’s “fat”, and that’s Tony Stewart, and his weight goes up and down more than Britney Spears. He ALSO looks wrecked when he gets out of the car. Out of shape drivers are a thing of the best. One only needs to look at fitness freaks like Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin or Jeff Gordon and see how much better they’re doing when they get out of the racecar.

    The longest race I’ve ever run was only 100 laps around a track just a bit bigger than a 1/4 mile… counting cautions it was maybe 2 hours. I lost 5 lbs and was just WRECKED by the end of it. There are old fat guys at MY level of racing though, that’s for sure–and it takes its toll on them, still.

    And that’s at night, when it’s much, much cooler–NASCAR racers often run during the heat of the day. Cockpit temps can reach 120 degrees, and cooling fans to the helmet only help so much. Tony Stewart lost 15 lbs when he ran the Indy 500/Coke 600 double a few years ago. The stress and heat are tremendous. And while they don’t hit the g-forces an f1 car does at its peak, they will see 3+ g’s at the faster super speedways. And they do it for a whole lot longer than an F1 driver.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    I know what they need to do to NASCAR – give them a 40-something steel bodied replicas of blue-collar Chevies or Fords or Chryslers… Tell them they have to carry 100 gallons of water in addition to the gasoline – they choose how and then send them across the county with “police” chasing them in similar vintage cars. Whoever gets there first wins… They can set up the cars anyway they want using 40-vintage tech. Modern safety gear.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket…

  • avatar
    davey49

    quasimondo- JPM is certainly talented enough to be successful in NASCAR. His team is a bit behind the curve though.
    The full course yellows are there in NASCAR (and IndyCar) to prevent track workers from being killed.

    tigeraid- to be fair to Tony, as of late he’s usually getting out of car that just took a hit into one or both walls. Can’t say his luck is too good this year.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I know what they need to do to NASCAR – give them a 40-something steel bodied replicas of blue-collar Chevies or Fords or Chryslers… Tell them they have to carry 100 gallons of water in addition to the gasoline – they choose how and then send them across the county with “police” chasing them in similar vintage cars. Whoever gets there first wins… They can set up the cars anyway they want using 40-vintage tech. Modern safety gear.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket…….

    How about some blue collar Toyotas? Or, IYHO is there no such thing?

  • avatar
    nino

    JPM is certainly talented enough to be successful in NASCAR. His team is a bit behind the curve though.

    NASCAR will not allow an outsider to have success in its series until he has paid heavy dues.

    Montoya was allowed to win the road race in Mexico because he is popular there. In that same race, some no-name local driver came in 8th.

    If you can, go back and look at the hard time NASCAR gave Roger Penske when he came to run AMC Matadors in NASCAR.

    In an interview, Michael Schumacher was asked if he would race NASCAR. He said no for two reasons. One was that he didn’t like cars with roofs on them and two, he KNEW that NASCAR would not give him a fair chance to race as it was a series that only looked after its own. This perception of NASCAR isn’t such a secret in the racing world.

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    nino:

    In an interview, Michael Schumacher was asked if he would race NASCAR. He said no for two reasons. One was that he didn’t like cars with roofs on them and two, he KNEW that NASCAR would not give him a fair chance to race as it was a series that only looked after its own.

    Now that, sadly, might be true. Though again, that’s NASCAR, not the sport of stockcar racing. But they definitely don’t get good equipment to women or minorities.

  • avatar
    megnted

    So now that the NASCAR taboo has been broken, when are you going to cover Funny Car drag racing. NASCAR race cars are closer to Funny Cars than are to “stock” cars. It is a natural progression.


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