- Pre-race activities at the Chicago 400

An Aussie's perspective on the Chicago 400

A lot of motor racing in the US is held on banked oval circuits and to most Aussies, this is an odd way to go racing. We don’t have banked oval circuits down under, it’s just not a thing. Our top racing category is V8 Supercars and for fans, the lines are drawn between the Ford Camp and the Holden Camp. Sure, there’s also a V8 Nissan or two racing, but no one really cares about that. We’ve been divided between the Ford’s and the Holden’s (GM) since the 70’s and rarely does a fan swap camps. It’s just not done.

So when I got the opportunity to attend the Chicago 400 NASCAR race, I jumped at the chance. Wow, the Americans really know how to put on a race, but at the same time it’s really strange. For one, there was no support races on Sunday race day. Maybe there was some the day before, who knows, but I’m used to a day of races from four or five different support categories.

The ticket I bought also gave me access to an exclusive Birthday party with Tom Petty, whoever he is? Well I guess I knew about Petty, but I didn’t really know how much of NASCAR legend the man is and the people around me were oohing and aahing as he turned up for his 20 minute appearance where he cut a cake, posed for a few photos and then moved on to his next appearance. Okay, it was cool that I got to meet him.

Merchandise was everywhere, you couldn’t escape it, but what took my attention was these little screens and headsets people were hiring. This was all very intriguing, so I did a quick scan of the brochure and discovered that the screen allowed you to watch different views, listen to different commentary or choose to listen to my favourite team radio. What a great concept, I’ve got to have one of these, so I forked out some more hard earned cash and hired my entertainment system.

It was worth every cent! What a great concept in motorsport. Sit and watch it live live, plus watch it live on my screen from different angles. Now that is something our Aussie race organisers should implement now.

But there’s just one thing that I couldn’t get over. I was bored. The racing is kind of interesting, the strategies are exceptionally well planned out and executed by each of the racing teams, but I was still bored. They just go round and round.

I was told later by some American friends that the racing is only exciting when there are crashes. Unfortunately for me, there was no crashes that day in September 2017 at the Chicago 400. Normally I don’t like to see accidents having raced myself and understanding the cost and stress a crash puts on a team. But now that I’ve had time to reflect, I so wish there had been a bit of a bingle to liven up the day.

In the end I had a great time, even though I think I dosed off for a few laps despite how ridiculously load the cars are, but the racing experience was fantastic and if I get another opportunity, I’ll certainly be taking it.

Tell us about your race meeting experiences from any where in the world... Should we have NASCAR style racing in Australia?

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Comments (4)
  • If NASCAR had a lot more races around circuits than just ovals, it would be thrilling. Almost like our own version of the Aussie V8 supercars

    1 month ago
    2 Bumps
    • Totally agree with you, Sean. Can you imagine NASCAR running circuit in Daytona, and visiting other circuits like VIR, Road America or Road Atlanta? It would be awesome!!

      1 month ago
      1 Bump
  • Are you sure it was Tom Petty, the singer or was it Richard Petty the 7-time NASCAR Champion? Chicago is a boring track as are most of the 1.5 mile speedways NASCAR built in the late 1990's. Short tracks have the best racing, Bristol Motor Speedway (in Bristol, TN) and Martinsville Speedway (in Martinsville, VA) are two of the best.

    1 month ago


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