Monday, February 12, 2007

I watched NASCAR

Yes, it's true. On Saturday evening I watched the Bud Shootout, primarily to cheer for top sportscar racer, stock-car interloper and all-round kickass dude Boris Said (right). I won't pretend it wasn't entertaining. The racing was close and pretty exciting, and a little studying beforehand meant that I was able to tell one car from another fairly easily (this is a somewhat important issue I've discovered when coming to a new racing series).

I learned about the bump draft. This is where two cars are in line and the one behind is going faster (due to drafting) and gives the one in front a little bump to transfer that speed and get them both going faster. How the car in front doesn't lose control in such a maneouver, I've yet to figure out.

I'm also still in the dark as to why one line around a corner may (or may not) be faster than another. Why would a driver choose to go high or low at any given moment? It's clearly not like in road-racing where you come in wide, try and get as early an apex as possible and then aim for the far curbing on exit. If I understood these things it might increase my enjoyment and make me more aware of what skills a driver is using to progress through the field.

A quick Google search on these topics brought me to a very informative blog called The Infield at That'sRacin.com. Turns out that NASCAR seems to have a number of pretty significant issues that it is dealing with, creating rather a lot of controversy. There are many critics of the current qualifying system, a lack of franchise spots on the grid, usage of restrictors at high speed ovals, the afore-mentioned bump-drafting, the angle of banking, licensing of rookies, sanctions against drivers who get a bit physical after the race... the list goes on. Regulatory issues are a common thread no matter what area of motorsport you're involved in, but just as in Formula 1, they take on gargantuan significance in a massive money-maker like NASCAR.

As we run up to the Daytona 500 this weekend, I'm going to do a little digging on NASCAR's controversies, to hopefully bring a bit more understanding of this bizarre sport to both me and anyone else more used to watching cars or bikes go right as well as left....

1 comment:

Clive said...

That's an enormous undertaking. I tried to understand a little more about NASCAR a while ago and went round a few blogs as part of the exercise. The major problem was that I couldn't understand a word they were saying...