By on August 6, 2006

hamlin_denny_car_hor111.jpgMy name is Frank and I’m a NASCAR fan. There. It’s out in the open. I admit that I enjoy watching a race series based on what Jackie Stewart called "one big bloody left hand turn.” If I’m at home on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon the TV is tuned to the pre-race shows on Speed or the race on whichever network crossed the France family’s palms with the most silver for the broadcast rights. Some people get addicted to soap operas. I’m hooked on NASCAR. To some motorsports fans that makes me a lost cause. 

It’s true: the open-wheel racing community looks down their collective noses at NASCAR. When seven-time Formula One and Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya defected from F1 to the Nextel Cup circuit, Michael Schumacher had some particularly unflattering words for the sport: "What is exciting about it? I can't see that, running around in ovals… I don't know how heavy these cars are but [they are] a very low-developed car to drive compared to a Formula One car." Perhaps Herr Schumacher should talk to Champ Car Series champion Michel Jourdain Jr. about his decision to race for NASCAR.  Jourdain said he wanted to compete against the best, and that means NASCAR. "I believe this step can give me more in every sense," he said. "I think right now, it's better to win the Daytona 500 than the Indy 500." 

If NASCAR is so crude and its cars just so many low tech leviathans, why have drivers such as John Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Scott Pruett, Paul Tracy, Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser failed to master their operation? Why have there been so few open-wheel drivers who have made a successful career transition to that “one big bloody left hand turn?” Perhaps NASCAR requires more racing skill needed than the effete snobs hiding behind their European arrogance want to admit. If so, they should consider the International Race of Champions (IROC).

The IROC circuit is easily the most egalitarian forms of modern motor racing. Successful drivers from all manner of racing series are invited  to jump into identically prepared cars serviced by the same crew. They’re given a set of rules that virtually eliminates all other possible variables. More than any other race, winning IROC boils down to the drivers’ abilities. Know what racing series four of the top five drivers in this year’s IROC come from? You got it. NASCAR. A roster of past winners looks like a “Who’s Who” of NASCAR.

Yeah, you argue, but NASCAR appeals primarily to toothless “white trash.” WRONG! According to a 2004 survey, about 75% of NASCAR fans have attended college, more than 25% own their own homes and about 36% make more than $50,000 a year. The survey also indicated the sport’s fans are evenly distributed across the country. The Northeast (home to 20% of the nation’s population) accounts for 20% of NASCAR’s fan base. Not surprisingly the largest portion of NASCAR’s fans live in the South (38%) but 35% of the US population lives in the South, so the demographics line up there too. While only 10% of NASCAR’s fans are African-American, the same applies to the NFL, where 11.7% of the fan base is African-American. 

So what’s NASCAR’s attraction?  If I had to boil it down to one word, it would be “drama.” In what other motorsport could a rookie whose parents mortgaged their house and maxed out their credit cards to help him along in his career, a young man who learned the layout of the track by playing video games, win the pole position and then win the race his first time out?  And then what are the chances of him repeating that performance in the same location the following month? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Denny Hamlin’s performance at Pocono in June and July. 

Every race is rife with unanswered questions that add to the entertainment. Who will Tony Stewart run off the track and then blame for getting in his way? Is this the week Carl Edwards misjudges his back flip and gives Jack Rousch a heart attack by spattering his ass all over the pavement? Which car will get air born while sliding down the track? How many laps before Kyle Petty drives into the wall?

NASCAR isn’t perfect. As long as the France family controls the business with an iron fist, the rules will seem arbitrary, ephemeral and capricious. And critics who have absolutely no understanding of the sport will continue to deride and demean NASCAR’s Ricky Bobby-ness. But if you’re open to trying new things, tune into a race. Watching 43 cars go ‘round and ‘round for two or three hours may seem inherently dull, but it isn’t.  In fact, you may soon have pro-NASCAR confessions of your own.  

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67 Comments on “Confessions of a NASCAR Junkie...”


  • avatar
    tom

    “If NASCAR is so crude and its cars just so many low tech leviathans, why have F1 champs such as John Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Scott Pruett, Paul Tracy, Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser failed to master their operation?”

    Well, they failed in F1, what else did you expect?

    “Know what racing series four of the top five drivers in this year’s IROC come from? You got it. NASCAR. A roster of past winners looks like a “Who’s Who” of NASCAR.”

    First of all, IROC is more similar to NASCAR than anything else. Secondly, which world class drivers are really participating?

    While I’m a fan of F1, I also like Touring Car series (especially DTM) or GT series (ALMS, FIA GT). In that kind of races you see way more skills than in any NASCAR race. NASCAR might have more “Drama”, but that’s not the reason why I watch car racing. If I want drama, I’ll watch a soap opera.

  • avatar
    tom

    By the way, if you want to see some real racing, the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary just started a minute ago…

  • avatar
    phattie

    The ‘drama’ side of it is lame at best is artificially hyped by those reporting on NASCAR. In other words, if it weren’t for the ‘drama’ and personalities of NASCAR, every race (every 1/2 lap actually) would be exactly the same and there would be zero reason to watch.

  • avatar
    kablamo

    By the way, if you want to see some real racing, the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary just started a minute ago…

    Isn’t that that the truth…what an AMAZING race.

    My NASCAR confession would be to watching Talladega nights (Legend of Ricky Bobby) – very entertaining indeed.

  • avatar
    nino

    “If NASCAR is so crude and its cars just so many low tech leviathans, why have F1 champs such as John Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Scott Pruett, Paul Tracy, Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser failed to master their operation? Why have there been so few open-wheel drivers who have made a successful career transition to that “one big bloody left hand turn?” Perhaps NASCAR requires more racing skill than the effete snobs hiding behind their European arrogance want to admit. For an answer, they should consider the International Race of Champions (IROC). ”

    Wait a minute, most of the guys on this list were NEVER in F1, much less failed at it or even considered “champs”. All open wheel racing is NOT the same.

    And you’re kidding me holding IROC as a “Race of Champions”.

    IROC, like much of NASCAR, has turned into a promotion for the sanctioning body. If you want to compare NASCAR to something, I think the WWE comes the closest.

    And it’s Juan PABLO Montoya.

  • avatar
    tom

    kablamo:

    Yeah, what a race…and a lot of drama I might add ;) Maybe I don’t have to watch those soap operas just yet.

  • avatar
    nino

    And I had to compose myself from laughing so hard after I read about the “drama” that NASCAR provides.

    Much of that drama is manufactured by the sanctioning body, including ample evidence to suggest that race results have been manipulated in the interest of “drama”.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Nino, thanks for the correction on the name. I used to work with someone named Juan Carlos and I must have had a temporary mind fart when I typed his name.

  • avatar
    nino

    Frank Williams says;

    Nino, thanks for the correction on the name. I used to work with someone named Juan Carlos and I must have had a temporary mind fart when I typed his name.

    LOL, OK, but how do you explain the REST of the article?

    I kid, I kid!

  • avatar
    nino

    I have a great idea for NASCAR, how about they go back to racing STOCK cars?

    Bumpers, headlights, all FOUR doors, etc., and let the manufacturers get something back for their support.

    This “Car of Tomorrow” sounds like more NASCAR marketing bullshit to me.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Nino: I have a great idea for NASCAR, how about they go back to racing STOCK cars?

    Bumpers, headlights, all FOUR doors, etc., and let the manufacturers get something back for their support.

    This “Car of Tomorrow” sounds like more NASCAR marketing bullshit to me

    I agree 100%.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    I’m with you Frank. I wouldn’t sit down and watch it by myself, but going to a race with a bunch of people is a blast! Sometimes…Filet mignon just ain’t gonna cut it when you want hot dogs, peanuts… and fun.
    I agree that stock car racing should be just that: stock cars. Remember “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday?” Visually, it would be a lot more appealing too (what can I say, I’m a car illustrator, lol).

    As for whether any skill is involved while ‘constantly turning left’ it seems to have challenged a few of my favourite drivers (namely, Ron Fellows – LeMans driver and a prince of a guy whom I’ve met several times, Boris Said… um and Andretti).

  • avatar
    JSForbes

    I have no doubt NASCAR takes as much skill as any other form of racing (Racers, in general, seem pretty interchangeable), but that does not mean NASCAR is “fun” or “interesting”. I don’t watch NASCAR because it is boring to watch. F1 may not have nearly as much passing, but the races are shorter (they keep my attention) and the cars are more interesting to watch.
    Just watching one F1 car flying around corners is more interesting than a field of NASCAR racers. Also, if I wanted “drama” I would watch some crappy reality tv show.

  • avatar
    Matthew Potena

    John Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Scott Pruett, Paul Tracy, Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser have never been “F1 Champs”. The best that Christian Fittipaldi ever accomplished in F1 was two 4th places finishes with the Arrows/Footwork team. Also driving for Arrowns/Footwork was Max Papis who scored a career best 7th place in the Italian grand Prix in 1995. As for John Andretti, Scott Pruett, Paul Tracey and Jimmy Vasser, none of them have ever even competed in F1. If nothing else is on tv, I will watch a NASCAR race. I think it is a well run series for basically evenly matched cars, which are very low tech. As for the drivers, there are some really good drivers, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon (soon to be Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve). Do I consider NASCAR drivers the best in the world, no. Do I think that their sport is fun to watch, yes. I liken NASCAR to professional wrestling with cars (due to all the artificial elements such as “competition cautions”, debris on the back straight, etc. etc. etc). I believe that F1 is more a pure form of racing, although the rulesmakers in F1 are beginning to scare me. (See my F1 article on this website)

  • avatar
    americanmadeford
  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Howdy Frank. I must say NASCAR is fun with enough beer in ‘yer system.

    That and a grille chock-full of NASCAR branded meat for the tailgate party! Taste the excitement! (Howard Dean Scream)

  • avatar
    phil

    Nascar, like all sports that become popular, has been commercialized to a 99% bullshit activity, nothing new there. if you look objectively at the two types of cars (F1 vs nascar) they’re interesting in their own right but the F1 car is so amazing that most of us would not even begin to appreciate its potential, even if we were on a racetrack. I think it was Larry Webster at C/D who a couple years ago had the opportunity to drive an F1 car and it was mind blowing for him, and he gets to drive the best of the best street cars on a regular basis. He quoted the pounds per hp ratio but it was so amazing i won’t even hazard a guess, but i think it was horsepower per pound rather than the typical pounds per horsepower.
    And Frank, round and round and round is BORING, with or without artificially injected “drama”.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Frank if you mute the commentary its like watching skittles go down the toilet. Is this dramatically enhanced motorsport really that fascinating to you? Something out there must be more appealing to the piston head inside of you. Perhaps it is part of your life because the speed channel is now the nascar friends network. I havent seen any BTCC, DTM or WRC / dakar on speed in a long time. Last year the Outdoor Life Network OLN aired the DAKAR… the tree hugger channel aired a vulgar display of western power and money in a traditional race across impoverished lands. Thats pretty insensitive for the tree hugger channel wouldnt you say? Guess they have some taste in adventure and motorsport, you want real drama try racing across africa hoping not to get abducted or shot to never return home.

    Sure, sure I’m a hater I only care for things like LeMans prototypes, touring car racing and WRC.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I got a few hot laps in a NASCAR once at the Pomona Speedway.

    While more boring than golf to watch on TV, the experience filled me with massive amounts of respect and awe for those drivers. The car is 150 degrees, everything stinks like methanol, your are deaf from the noise, you takes corners at over 130 mph… just madness.

    My point…? I like cars.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    My, my… where on the masthead does it read “the Truth About Cars, but only the ones that I like”?
    The motorsports club I belong to is multi-discipline: we have avid rally racers, a few drag racers, lots of cone enthusiasts and yes, a handful of oval racers. Most of us try to participate in a variety of events, or get together at the track for moral support when the stock car racers have a big race going on. One of the best nights so far was when our talented road race member, along with another member who is P2 division Canadian Rally champ, drove in a stock car race for charity – and they had a blast.
    Part of my job as publicity director is booking speakers- such as Targa Newfoundland Rally particpants, and a Dakkar Rally driver. The Dakkar dude was an eloquent speaker – and also particpated in the Targa event… along with a talented Cascar driver.
    It’s my opinion that pistonheads find fun and merit in a wide variety of motorsports.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Yah Jonny – what you said! I like them too!

  • avatar
    tom

    I don’t doubt that it is great fun to drive a NASCAR, but this is about watching the races. I also had great fun playing Cricket, but would anyone in their right mind watch that sort of thing?

  • avatar
    PFM

    NASCAR = WWF on wheels

  • avatar
    racedriven

    Well, congrads to you for getting that off your chest…I have something to say too, I am a huge NASCAR fan, including a Motorsports & Car Enthusiant. Every saturday/sunday (expect if there is a family thing), I am right in front of my TV tuned into the NASCAR racing and to top that off, I visit New Hampshire International Speedway twice a year on Friday or Saturday to take in practice, qualifiying anf the Modifieds series. I love it, enjoy it, and I live for it.

    I also blog on it too…this is Racedriven signing out.

    See Yeah!

  • avatar

    Does anyone else find it supremely ironic that a man named Frank Williams is railing against Formula One? For those that don’t know, the otherFrank Williams is a long-time owner and something of a legend as such in F1. As for the article itself, I take issue with just about all of it.

    There was a time when racing drivers raced multiple series. Mario Andretti was a champion in Formula One, Indycar, sportscars, NASCAR and so on and so forth. Talent is talent, but today there is a vast divide between disciplines. The technology in a Formula One car dwarfs anything else in racing. That’s not to say that the cars or the racing are better, but they are certainly capable of performing on an entirely different level and therefore require a different skill set. NASCAR is what it is, but I still prefer road racing.

    Sadly, my only hope for real cars and interesting racing from Formula One seems to be the racing simulation rfactor(which I highly recommend to all TTAC users with a fast PC and a wheel/pedals setup), as the modern breed of F1 racing just doesn’t do it for me anymore. LeMans prototypes, GT and Touring cars are where it’s at for me these days.

  • avatar
    James2

    I used to like NASCAR, way before they got the anal, insane bug about homogenizing and pasteurizing the whole “sport”.

    I used to like NASCAR before they decided that trying to build a better, faster car was Verboten!

    I used to like NASCAR before they decided that a Taurus should look like a Lumina should look like an Intrepid.

    (Ford, why should you spend money on NASCAR when the racing Fusion is nothing like the production Fusion? Win on Sunday, sell on Monday did NOTHING to keep the Taurus from losing the sales race to the Camry and Accord. That’s the race you should be more concerned about.)

    I used to like NASCAR before the drivers became sponsor-pushing clones.

    NASCAR is now a joke, a bad one with a points system that require accountants to fathom. So much a joke that they need to create a false “playoff” system just to get people excited.

    Juan Pablo Montoya is a great open-wheel race-car driver, but NASCAR isn’t really interested in having good drivers… they prefer lousy drivers who like to use their fenders to push slowpokes out of the way.

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    F1 is a parade, NASCAR is a race.

    Maybe before running his silver-spooned mouth, Herr Schumacher should try going 3-wide at Richmond, sitting in the middle of the 190-MPH pack at Talladega, or joust on the banks of Bristol. I think he’d find the challenge he thinks is missing!

    That being said, the technical capabilities of F1 racecars are beyond the word “incredible” to describe. However, that does not make for the best kind of actual racing. Sure it’s fun to watch Alanzo dive into the esses at frightening velocities, or hear a Ferrari engine brush 20000 RPM. But it is more of racecar vs. racecar than driver vs. driver. And first out of the pit lane is pretty much a lock to win the race.

    That’s not to say that every race should be like IROC (and NASCAR’s so-called “car of tomorrow” is going too far in that direction, but the driver is a bigger factor in the Cup series (even at the road courses) than F1.

    I’m trying to become an F1 fan, but it’s hard to overcome the monotony and snobbery of that series. Here’s hoping Scott Speed can land a quality ride in a few years.

  • avatar
    jaje

    F1 /WRC / MotoGP are the ultimate package racing sport…as tires, chassis, aero, engine, and driver…to succeed here is extremely costly but he payoff is the “best of the best” on the world stage

    Nascar limits technological to lessen barriers to entry (cheaper entrance fees mean more cars, more cars mean more action/drama), limit races to ovals in order to allow fans to see their favorite racer at each moment (aside from infineon or the glen) and cut out most factors that leave it up to pit strategy, car setup and the driver’s ability…it also makes it easier for you to sip your budweiser and watch the entire race (i like watching the major pile ups – lot’s of cars too little space)

    for Nascar to make races so exciting it cuts into real innovation or allowing these cars to reallly live up to their name “stock cars”…nothing on these are even close…the cars have little to do with their supposed stock origins…turbo’s were significantly advanced due to F1, variable valve timing, 4 wheel ind suspension, etc. – where Nascar has just pushed the Calvin Peeing Sticker industry…i also take note that Nascar sells out too quickly to advertisers…their series are named after sponsors rather than the true origin…Nextel, Busch, Craftsman

    Do you recall Nascar’s attempt to slander Simpson b/c of Earnhardt’s death by cutting his belt to blame it on failure rather than Nascar’s rather redneck safety rules.

    I also note the comment that 75% of Nascar fans attended college…does this include Junior Colleges…what about the graduation rate?…did 75% graduate college or just take one or 2 JuCo classes?

    I’ve been to a plethora of motor sporting events…Nascar, F1, CART, IRL, AMLS, Speed WC…I don’t see lots of college grads at the Nascar race…spend most of my time ignoring the “git r done” and spilled crappy beer

    F1 and Nascar have their audiences and focus…F1 is about utimate technology, Nascar is about drama…me, i’d rather watch touring cars as they are the real “stock cars” that we consumers can buy and i can take to the (road racing) track and enjoy. end of rant.

  • avatar
    tms1999

    Good emotional appeal.

    But why is it important to try to convince other people that NASCAR is worth watching? I don’tget it. As long as you don’t build a NASCAR oval in my backyard, I’ll let you enjoy as much left turn as you wish, all smothered with commercial for beers and pizzas. Have at it.

    There are a lot of other ‘sports’ you could not pay me to watch, like fly fishing, cyclism, drag racing, wresting… Why is NASCAR so important to you? Do you feel threatened?

  • avatar
    dolo54

    where I’m from IROC stands for “Italian Retard Out Cruisin”. I guess I should say I’m half italian so nobody calls me racist. F1 is more about car vs. car… NASCAR is made to be driver vs. driver… is car vs. car a bad thing? I love cars so I like to see what people can make them capable of. My personal preference is rally racing. now that’s excitement!

  • avatar
    Terry

    I dunno…with this editorial I see a paranoia that manifests itself by not only declaring oneself a hoosier, but to be rather proud of it.
    2 camps here, to wit:
    Timex vs Seiko
    GM vs Toyota
    Kodak vs Nikon
    Harley vs Japan INC.
    Football vs Soccer
    Snapper vs Honda
    Motor Trend vs Road & Track
    NASCAR vs F1

    NASCAR to many is one of the last bastions of Americana, and while it may not be pretty, “DAMMITT, it’s OURS!!!
    I’m sure there are many worse things to watch, take a Rap concert for example…

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Jaje….

    I agree with much of your words but as much as I wish it were true touring cars are not closely related to production models. The A4 DTM car is a V8 RWD animal. In GT4 it is sublime to drive this wicked incarnation, very little of this DTM car is shared with the production model with which it shares a name. The DTM car has the driver seated somewhere near the B pillar with the column extended to accomodate. The bodywork is totally different save for the roof and maybe some of the trunklid. There is no question that the A4 DTM shares a silouette with the production model but the similarities are even less common than the IMSA GTO 90 had with the street legal 90 20v quattro. At least the GTO had a simmilar driveline configuration… the DTM A4 and DTM TT were both front engine RWD V8 powered… a configuration shared with no production audi.

    Thus DTM racing is like stock car racing… much of the world buys 4 cylinder fwd audi A4’s. Thats where the similarities end. The technology level of DTM is very high… the DTM cars are built with telemetry and state of the art engines, aero and chassis design and engine management electronics. DTM is like nascar with + unlimited technology – ovals which is what makes it awesome. If nascar mimiced DTM I might consider watching… but it is safe to say that will never happen.

  • avatar
    pariah

    N on-
    A thletic
    S port
    C entered
    A round
    R ednecks

    :P

  • avatar
    tom

    Thats what DTM cars look like:

    http://www.dtm.de/fotos/2006-07-23/2006-07-23-091.jpg

    http://www.dtm.de/fotos/2006-07-23/2006-07-23-072.jpg

    http://www.dtm.de/fotos/2006-07-23/2006-07-23-074.jpg

    http://www.dtm.de/fotos/2006-07-23/2006-07-23-055.jpg

    http://www.dtm.de/fotos/2006-07-23/2006-07-23-054.jpg

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    DTM Racing rocks – my divine young friend Bruno Spengler just won his first race at Norisring – if you want to read his account of it:
    http://www.painkillerz.ca/magazine.php?id=306
    He’s a former Canadian karting champ. :)

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Even though I think F1 is basically boring–in fact all televised racing is boring, unless you’re driving–I find the in-car and on-car camera work fascinating and actually useful, in terms of my own track work. It’s much more “technical,” whereas what’s shown from NASCAR in-cars is more like what you could just as well see on “Days of Thunder.” (Which, by the way, is an underrated film…nobody set out to make a documentary, remember, any more than “Top Gun” is an accurate portrayal of carrier ops.)

  • avatar
    nino

    I tell ya, I’m workin’ the Dell computer with Intel chip overtime postin’ on this here deal. I thought we were talkin’ racin’. While I like F1, the World Rally Championship is where it’s at. After I take an Aleve to relieve the pain from carpal tunnel, I click my Microsoft mouse to several sites where I can download rally videos that I play on Windows Media Player. I amp up the volume on my Altec-Lansing surround speakers so I can hear the sweet engine sounds made by those cars. The Bose subwoofer really brings the experience to life. But I’m careful because I use the Norton anti-virus software and firewall to keep me protected from what’s out there.

    In the end, I’d like to thank God that we have these here choices. Nothing like a refreshing Budweiser and gitting ‘er done.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Oh, and while I’m at it, let me add that anybody who thinks _any_ form of racing is nonathletic has just revealed that he has never in his life been in a racecar, even as a passenger.

    It’s like the guy sitting next to me in the 727 who makes fun of the landing–strong crosswind, LGA, plant the mother before you’re into the parkway–I always ask, “Oh, and you have landed a 727? Perhaps on this very runway?”

    The Three-Holer requires a touch they couldn’t comprehend in a lifetime of spectatorship during their coach travel.

  • avatar
    nino

    TampaWRX says;

    Does anyone else find it supremely ironic that a man named Frank Williams is railing against Formula One? For those that don’t know, the otherFrank Williams is a long-time owner and something of a legend as such in F1.

    This IS the very same Frank Williams!

    He has to talk up NASCAR because otherwise he has to pay Montoya if he fails in NASCAR and doesn’t draw more fans.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Well, I have no idea what you look like, so the comparison is a stretch for me. All I’m saying is that all forms of racing are incredibly strenuous, and whether that means you have to be a dead ringer for Jamie Lee Curtis’s personal trainer or be a beer-bellied Tony Stewart, they are all 400 times tougher than the nacho-popping lardasses who are quick to criticize. And yes, I agree that Schumacher–either one–could out-press Tony. Just don’t get ’em boxing.

  • avatar
    nino

    Don’t underestimate Michael’s fighting ability.

    Anybody that plays dirty with an open wheel car has got to be a dirty fighter as well.

    Ralf probably fights like a girl.

  • avatar
    nino

    But are you suggesting that we can’t criticize NASCAR drivers and respect what they do at the same time?

    I might not think too much of their racing ability, but when even a passed Dale Earnhart makes $10 million a year DEAD, you gotta respect THAT!

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    In agreement with my man Stephen.

    Racing is insanely physical. I remember when he and I were lapping Maseratis at Road Atlanta (I know, I know) how much slower my lap times became as the day dragged on.

    And the fastest I hit was 125mph. And we were just playing follow the leader.

    Nascar dudes enter turns at 140mph and try to pass people.

    Absolutely athletic.

  • avatar
    pariah

    We keep bringing up the extremely high speeds that these NASCAR cars hit. I’m gonna take a guess and say that most likely the reason they’ll never switch back to actual stock cars is because a stock Fusion or Monte Carlo can’t take a corner at 140mph.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Noooo, but it’s fun as hell taking a an on-ramp at 140 kph in a Fusion press car :))

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    One of the things that people who don’t drive on tracks fail to realize is that “top speeds” are irrelevant. Any moron can do 200 in a straight line or–same thing, essentially–on a banked track. People like Michael Schumacher all came from karts, where they went 50 mph (and, of course, graduated to faster karts as they progressed). I’ve driven 155 on an oval hands-off, just for the fun of it–the car and the banking were that well matched–and I remember once Ricky Rudd telling me that he could take anybody off the street who could fog a mirror and get them to drive around Daytona full throttle (as long as they didn’t panic and lift). But put them in the middle of 42 other cars and the bidding changed.

  • avatar
    rtz

    It would be better if the rules allowed room for innovation. Or if the cars were actual cars off the assembly line instead of the cookie cutter tube frames they are now.

    I don’t like how they weigh a ton(3500lbs last I heard), or that the rules require them to run the same size tire front and back. Restrictor plates? What type of racing is that!?

    NASCAR should be a technological R&D hot bed that revolutionary changes and advances come from. Not mobile billboards doing laps around a parade field.

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    At the risk of being a little off-topic, here are the 9 things I would immediately do if I were named NASCAR czar:

    – You run the stock body, no ground effects or crap like that. Use 3D virtual templates and laser measurement. You don’t like your aero package? Whine to you manufacturer, not us.

    – Chop the spoler to 3″ and remove the angle restriction. What to do a Yarborough and lay it all the way back in qualifying? It’s your call…and your butt.

    – Your race car spins the same set of wheels your production car does. Can’t wait to see how fast the Monte Carlo suddenly becomes RWD!

    – Bring back homogulation; that way we’ll have some cool cars to buy!

    – Shrink the engine down to 310 CI and let the engine-eers figure ’em out. Eliminate the plate once and for all. Speeds may rise to about 200, but y’all can handle that.

    – Bye bye Loudon, hello Rockingham and North Wilkesboro!

    – New point system: Finish farther back than 20th? Zilch! That will elminate rolling roadkill. Pole would score points. Chase is laid waste; most points all season wins.

    – “Lucky dog” is hereby euthinized.

    – Shrink field to 36. Bottom feeder teams need to run Busch instead.

    Bring back some real racin’!

  • avatar
    Ryan

    Although I don’t much care for Nascar, I can’t say I hate it in itself either. My Nascar hatred is directed squarely towards the so-called Speed Channel, which squanders so many prime-time hours on far too much Nascar-related programming (particulairly the analysis crap, if it was only races, I might be less perturbed). Hell, I’m surprised my head didn’t explode after seeing Nascar drivers playing poker.

    And they cut my WRC for that?

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Speed Channel – the People magazine of the auto world…

  • avatar
    philbailey

    “F1 champs such as John Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Scott Pruett, Paul Tracy, Max Papis and Jimmy Vasser failed to master their operation?”

    Hello, when were any of these drivers F1 champs? Low level second raters is what they are, so it’s no wonder they couldn’t master F1. Of course, most of them never tried. This is a very ignorant article – well below TTACs’ usual standard.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    There is no doubt that a lot of people became NASCAR fans precisely because it is one sport not dominated by blacks. I’ve heard this straight from the racists themselves! (Not sure why they didn’t become fans of swimming or curling …)

    But I don’t blame the sport itself for that, just an intersting fact. And I suspect that’s changing as NASCAR keeps going more mainstream – even Jim Rome is becoming a NASCAR booster.

  • avatar
    noley

    Gee, since everyone else is having fun making outrageous remarks here are mine. I’ll start with the obvious:

    The cars are about as interesting as hot-rodded Yugos
    The drivers seem to belong to the same ego-thumping personality cults as clowns like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemons.
    NASCAR is more about being able to drive fast in traffic than anything else.
    While driving a NASCAR car fast enough to win certainly requires skill, I suspect that a lot of gearheads with a week at Bondurant’s under their belts could run at 80 to 90% as fast. That’s hardly the case in F1.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    After a week at Bondurant, somebody with no competition experience wouldn’t be 80 to 90 percent as fast as a good SCCA amateur spec-Miata racer, much less a Nextel cup competitor. Though you may be right that their skill level would be closer to that of somebody racing a 3,600-pound sedan than a very light, very powerful open-wheel car. But it wouldn’t be “close” at all.

  • avatar
    noley

    Stephan–
    I agree and I was overstating for effect (habit of mine!)
    A lot of speed in competition comes from experienece, especially in traffic, which only comes on the track when you’re dicing with someone. As you point out further up the page:

    “I remember once Ricky Rudd telling me that he could take anybody off the street who could fog a mirror and get them to drive around Daytona full throttle (as long as they didn’t panic and lift). But put them in the middle of 42 other cars and the bidding changed.”

    And you’re right, my hypothhetical driver wouldn’t be as fast as a good SCCA amateur. But if you just stuck someone with some reasonable ability and training on an oval in a NASCAR racer and started the clock and let them crank out some laps I think their times would be respectable before too long. 80% might be about right, but of course that wouldn’t even qualify: it is, for example, a 176 mph lap when the pole is 200 mph.

    My point is really that the level of skill NASCAR drivers have is good for what and how they drive, but it’s a notch or two below the guys who make a living in open wheel cars, especially F1. There’s a reason FI is called the World DRIVER’S Championship.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Noley, you couldn’t be more wrong about anything.

  • avatar
    tom

    Of course in F1 the car is just as important as the driver. Schumacher would never have won seven titles driving for Minardi (Then again he won his first title in a Benetton that was way underpowered).

    But I think what Noley tried to say is:

    Take a random guy from the street and put him in a NASCAR and on an empty track, let him drive around for a day and his time wont be too far off the time of a pro driver.

    Do the same with an F1 car and your guy wont get anywhere near the time of a professional.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I absolutely agree about the F1 car/driver. I absolutely disagree about the Nextel Cup car/driver. Yes, they look like the big coupes that you and I have hared around in now and then, but don’t let that fool you. I keep coming back to aviation images, since I’m a pilot, but putting you or me into a Cup car would be like putting a Cessna 182 pilot into an F-16. Not in terms of flying–hell, if I can fly a Lear I can fly an F-16–but ask him to dogfight, to energy-manage, to fly and fight in four dimensions (time’s a big one when you’re rat-racing at 400 knots), to see and think and interpret in ways we can’t even comprehend.

    Fight’s over…

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    I think the whole Larry the Cable guy aspect of it frightens people…
    not me, I’m ready to embrace my inner redneck:)))
    (if possible for an Brit immigrant – hell, I’m too snooty to eat at McDonald’s).

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    If you want D-R-A-M-A and action, I present to you the best of the best: WWF. But if you talk about real racing, then even a local autocross event is better than NASCAR.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    TeeKay:

    I’d much rather autocross than watch nascar even if I do get cooked in the hot sun. If driving a road course is not an option, attending an autocross is a viable substitue.

  • avatar
    nino

    I see that some are taking exception to those deriding the ability of NASCAR drivers and feel a need to defend them. The comparison was about RACING and as far as racing goes, NASCAR drivers today leave a lot to be desired.

    What racer would participate in a series where the sanctioning body takes away any advantage that you’ve worked for and goes out of its way to manipulate race results?

    The WWE has great athletes that can sommersault, dive from great hights, and perform other amazing feats. But no one can say that a pro wrestling match is the pinnacle of a competitive, athletic, sporting event. As such, an athlete in the WWE is a notch below.

    NASCAR is about marketing FIRST, racing maybe comes in at number three. No RACER would participate in a series that doesn’t emphasize racing FIRST.

  • avatar

    It’ll take two changes to make me watch NASCAR again (I quit back in the early 70’s):

    1. STOCK cars. Not identical tube frame, plastic bodied wonders with a stick on grill to give it brand identity.

    and most of all

    2. They start racing in the rain!!! The old lady and I constantly watch MotoGP, 300kph on a motorcycle in a downpour if necessary. On a track that turns in both directions. Ditto World Superbike, and to a lesser extent AMA.

    Real racers aren’t afraid of wet pavement.

    Syke
    Deranged Few M/C

  • avatar
    jaje

    qfrog: DTM is supposed to be a touring car series but its not…just custom built race cars with little to do with their true origins…you should watch the following of real “stock cars” Speed WC, BTCC, Grand Am Cup, USTCC (NASA racing series), even ALMS has production based race cars in there that have to use stock suspension geometry, chassis and engine

    then there’s the fun stuff where relatively poor men can race in such as 944 Cup, Spec Miata, ITA, ITS, Honda Challenge, etc. that are at a local road track…$10-$20 gets you in and enjoying some great grassroots based racing

  • avatar
    nino

    A friend that is intimately involved with NASCAR, informed me that it was the MANUFACTURERS that wanted the “jellybean” shapes we have now (although, not to the extent that they have evolved to) so that they wouldn’t have to produce NASCAR specific models in their production line ups. If this is true (and I have no reason to doubt him), then this would be a further indictment that racing isn’t NASCAR’s raison d’etre.

    So, for all our crying about stock cars going back to being stock cars, ain’t gonna happen.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Sports on television bores the bejesus out of me. I always fall asleep! Going to the races doesn’t sound appealing, either; baking in the hot sun next to all those people who’ve had too much to drink, watching the same-ol-same-ol cookie-cutter cars drive in a big circle, waiting for something horrible to happen just to break the monotony.

    Give me a curvey back road and a free afternoon. I’d rather be driving!

    But yeah, I agree about the stock cars. The current state of affairs makes it all too fake, and it forces the producers into manufacturing the soap-opera backstories in an attempt to differentiate one from another.

    Bleah, fakery makes me sick!

  • avatar
    Arragonis

    Go and see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0vNJmsxceE

    I think this best describes why Nascar never hits it off in Europe, Asia, Africa, etc etc..

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