Why NASCAR is great, and why you should like it
The premier stock car racing series is the best motorsport to watch and attend, and it's great in other ways
NASCAR is one of the most popular motorsports in the world. While it has problems with attendance and viewing presently, it is still an iconic American motorsport. However, it lacks respect from many motorsport and automotive enthusiasts.
Why is that? Well, there are a few commonly cited reasons: a lack of driver skill, boring races, and more. All of those are wrong. NASCAR drivers are some of the most skilled in motorsport, the races are some of the best to watch and attend, and more. Here's why I love NASCAR, and you should too.
NASCAR drivers are some of the most skilled in the world. In the book (worth a look for any NASCAR fan) 'J.D: The Life and Death of a Forgotten NASCAR Legend,' it's recounted how even accomplished road course racers - 'road course ringers,' brought in by the teams to race the cars at the road course - would struggle with the weighty cars. However, the great NASCAR stars had and have no trouble at all wrestling them around any track, from an oval to a road course. Look at Ricky Rudd drive his car around Sears Point Raceway in 1994. Check out the amazing heal-and-toe driving and hard steering.
These cars are hard to drive on the road course, but challenging on an oval, too. For a start, the tracks aren't simply a constant turn-and-straight setup. Each corner is different and presents a unique challenge, especially at tracks like Pocono - the 'Tricky Triangle.' Drivers are wrestling these cars around the track, and the cars don't want to do that. Having heard accounts of IndyCar drivers saying their sport is harder than F1 and drivers like Danica Patrick or A.J. Foyt saying a NASCAR stock car presented more of a challenge than IndyCar, NASCAR drivers have to possess lots of skill. Don't believe me? How about Richard Hammond. Here's his experience driving a NASCAR Cup car on Top Gear. He said it was like "wrestling a big, shouty dragon."
NASCAR races are among the most exciting in motorsport. NASCAR is certainly the most exciting series in which to attend a race. With most races being oval tracks allowing views of all the action, a NASCAR fan is never left without a view of the race. Even at larger tracks, like Daytona and Talladega, the entire two-mile or more tracks are totally visible from the grandstands. The pictures below are from my own experience at Daytona.
At smaller tracks, visibility is even better. My local track is Richmond, which is one of the shortest races on the calendar. The views of the cars and the racing there is unparalleled in any other motorsport. NASCAR also has road courses, which do restrict the visibility. However, with only two full road courses on the calendar, their occurrence is an event on the calendar. But the sport also has introduced something new - the Charlotte Roval. This is a partly the banked speedway of Charlotte and partly its infield road course. That track offers the best of everything - great oval racing, road course skill, and unparalleled views. This is just like what the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona offers, but in a shorter package. IndyCar also offers this, but I think the racing on the Roval is better. Tell me if you don't think so in the comments.
NASCAR is also incredibly exciting to watch at home or out on television. With so many cars on limited space, there's always something going on. While NASCAR has struggled recently with aero packages, there have still been incredibly exciting races this season.
During the NASCAR season, which ranges from the Daytona 500 and the Speedweeks leading up to it in early February to the Championship in mid-November, nearly every weekend has a race. That means that there's always some NASCAR to watch. There are no big breaks, either. The longest mid-season breaks are one week.
Image credit: printyourbrackets.com
NASCAR fuel is green. It actually is. Sunoco Green E15 ethanol fuel is used in all three NASCAR national series. It has 15% ethanol. It also is tinted green. NASCAR isn't something you might think of as being environmentally conscious at all, but it is.
Image credit: Bob is the Oil Guy
In fact, many of the tracks and NASCAR itself use alternative energy sources, primarily solar energy. Pocono Raceway has made the biggest effort of all the tracks. DC Solar, primary sponsor of Chip Ganassi Racing, works with NASCAR to put solar panels on all the tracks.
NASCAR has great music, whether you watch on television or go to the event. For starters, the NASCAR on NBC (which broadcasts the second half of the season - FOX has the first) 'theme song' is Tom Petty's iconic "Runnin' Down a Dream" covered. You'll hear that on the television broadcasts.
At the racetrack each event, there are performances you can see - especially at the big races.
You'll see the drivers, however you watch the race. At the track, there are opportunities to get access to the drivers, often included in packages. If you look at the driver's schedule, there may be a time to see them free of charge at the track or nearby. On television, the access to the drivers and teams all weekend is great. The stage winners are interviewed during the race on television, and the winner is interviewed on the track. Beyond that, commentators can talk to the teams and see what they're doing.
If you're American, you'll love the patriotism of NASCAR. July 4th weekend always has the most on the schedule, but every race is in itself.
Image credit: NASCAR
Do You Agree?
Do you agree with me? If you do, share your NASCAR experience. If you don't, tell me why in the comments.