Being an avid fan of motor sport(particularly Formula 1), I always had this thing against NASCAR. To me, watching someone turn left, floor the throttle, brake and then turn left, over and over again on TV wasn't particularly exciting. However, that completely changed, a couple of weeks ago. While on a road trip with my family across the country, I had the opportunity to visit Talladega Superspeedway - the biggest NASCAR circuit. In this article, I'm gonna cover all the things that I saw - the good, the old and the fast. So, people(especially those of you who think NASCAR isn't better than F1) , strap in and prepare to get your misconceptions blown!
1) It looks very different up front
On TV, all we see(or at least what I saw) is the car going really fast, turning left, and then repeating this pattern for a long time. In reality though, it's rather different - in a good way. The slope of the banked part of the track looks monstrous up front(I think the tour guide said it was tilted up at a slope of 33 degrees). During the tour, I remember the guide telling us that the drivers had to maintain a speed of 75 mph or more to keep the car from toppling over. And this circuit, Talladega, is the longest, spanning a distance of 2.66 miles(4.281 km). It was really breathtaking.
2) It's just different
I feel like this should be read as an extension to point 1. I think we can all agree that Formula 1 tracks are really exciting. They have twisty, sharp bends, and long straights and I think this is why F1 people really aren't into NASCAR - the idea of just turning left doesn't amuse some people. However, the fundamental difference that I noticed was the way the circuit was organised. NASCAR circuits are set up in such a way that the driver has to think in three dimensions, because of the banking. Even on the straights, I noticed a little bit of a curve. The NASCAR driver therefore has to determine where he/she will be on the curve, instead of where he/she will be on the corner, as is in Formula 1. To really see this, one has to actually visit a NASCAR race track and see the difference for themselves. Another important thing to note here is that the physics here is different because the problems are different - How do you keep a car stuck to the ground at high speeds around a banked curve, without compromising the handling? What if the steering gets jammed turning left and the driver needs to straighten it up on the straight? All these, along with things like aerodynamics and the difference in tire wear make NASCAR feel like a completely different world compared to F1.
3) The cameras don't do justice
The cameras definitely don't do justice. I'm not blaming any of the camera people, so don't kill me in the comments. I'm just saying that I feel like the cameras don't show enough of the banking and the curves and all. It just feels so much different. Personally, I would rather die in an F1 car, than die in a NASCAR car. The reason being(quoting Richard Hammond here):"I'm in a car having a plane crash!"
4) The Cars!
If you came here just to look at the cars, well, you're in for a treat. The International Motorsports Hall of Fame boasts of a wide variety of cars - Cars from the old times, land speed record cars, all different types of NASCAR cars, record setting racing Go-Karts and so much more. Besides this, they also had a whole room full honoring all the important NASCAR people, a wall full of Drivers' Titles and another wall full of paintings honoring all different kinds of motor sport drivers. I got to spot a couple of F1 favorites in the mix like Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Sir Jackie Stewart. They also had a couple of big V8 model engines cut open to show the differences and the gradual progression of the engines in NASCAR. Unfortunately, with me being, well, me, I didn't click everything, and a lot that I clicked, was a bit blurry. So here are some of the good quality pictures that I managed to get.
The Venky Verdict -
I wrote this article to try to explain how NASCAR is different from Formula 1 and to try to get people from criticizing either sport. If you feel like my article still doesn't satisfy you, visit a track! Seriously, it'll change the way you look at the sport.
Thanks Talladega -
I want to say thank you to the people at Talladega for being such great hosts. It was a beautiful place, and the people there are really friendly. The museum is really beautiful and so is the circuit. If you do get a chance, I would recommend you visit them. It's a really good spot to visit on a long drive. Luckily, my family and I went on a day with no races or practice stuff, so we got to see a lot of stuff.
The Photos -
I took all the photos posted on this article, so don't bombard me with copyright issues. Also, feel free to take screen shots if you can! Also, to people who need articles or stuff like that, DM me!
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