NASCAR And IRL Need To Make Serious Changes
NASCAR

What is Wrong with the American Auto-Racing Scene?

5/11/09 in NASCAR   |   badsam1956   |   0 respect

What is wrong with the American racing scene? As I watch NASCAR, I get to the point that I enjoy it less and less, as the season goes on. I only watch the IRL/CART during the Indy 500 and only because I’ve always watched the 500. I have been an avid drag racer and have promoted the sport and use to follow Pro Stock faithfully. Now it seems almost uninteresting, I’ve moved to following the Top Fuel and Funny Car ranks, and pray I get to see a Sportsman class race. Yet, I still love Sports Car racing and I’ve even gotten back into watching Formula 1. Why have I gotten so down about the professional auto racing series in America? Is there a reason for my disinterest, or is it just how I perceive it? Let’s look at these different series and I will try to explain why I’ve lost interest.

NASCAR introduced the Car Of Tomorrow last season and tried unsuccessfully to convince fans that they are better interpretation of the models available to the new car buyers. Then they tried to convince the fans that the cars would all be equal. Well the cars may be equal, but they are boring. Now they are playing a game with the engine packages. I’ve taken a close look at the new Dodge and Ford engines and thought to myself, “these engine look just like the Toyota clone of the SB4 Chevrolet.” The valve covers are very similar and the head ports are identical now. Is this the next phase of cloning a NASCAR entry? I have always been a brand loyal type person. I will pull for a Dodge over any other make, yet my favorite driver, Kyle Busch, drives a Toyota. Now the way the cars are being built, I might as well throw any thought of brand loyalty out of the equation. If I didn’t know the car number and for what manufacturer that driver drives, I couldn’t tell one car from another. Now that Carl Edwards went airborne at Talladega NASCAR is looking at some way to slow the cars down again. Like duhh, if NASCAR can’t figure it out where does it leave a sport based on speed. How about doing this NASCAR, require all teams run the current body shell offered to the buyer. Don’t allow them to tape off the grills and smooth all the edges. Leave it alone, just as the factory makes it. Then require them to run a stock engine block and heads, just like back in the good old days. How about this, no more specifically designed and manufactured race only engines. That should slow the cars down because of aero properties and with a mandated stock block and heads on an engine the horsepower would be about ½ of the current engines. Then allow these big no-no’s, Overhead cams plus fuel injection and work with the four manufacturers to design a workable electronic control that a limiter could be used to equalize the field. Taken together the cars would be hard to maintain 180 MPH on these big tracks. The cars might be slower, but it would be closer to the original idea of stock based vehicles and a lot more exciting.

During the 1950s and 60s the Indy 500 was the race to watch. I always looked forward to seeing what new engineering idea would show up. Today we have one engine made by one manufacturer, Honda. Gone are the days of seeing every conceivable combination of engine and car layout. All cars today use the same chassis made by Italian manufacturer Dallara. There is no variation of the theme. There are no more side-pods, front engines, or wild wings. Now it is just the same ole engine, chassis and body. What has happened to stretching the rules and the controversy that was always a part of the Indy racing series? Dull, boring cars and in most cases predictable results are the norm. What are these people thinking? Why has the premier racing series gone to pot? Now NASCAR is bigger than the IRL/CART and now even the good ole boys seem to have missed the message. The same car, racing the same car is boring as hell. Can we all say IROC? Please bring back the innovation. I want to see stock block engines run against the purpose built specials. The one off car a mechanic built in his garage running against million dollar prototypes. I want diversity and I want it NOW.

As a young man, I was a regular participant in NHRA drag racing. I drove our family Stock and Super Stock cars. I was there to see the concept of and the actual beginning of Pro Stock. It was conceived with the idea of putting the baddest factory engine available into the best currently offered body. The first year saw the Camaros with the 427 Chevy Rat engine going head to head with the Plymouth Cuda with its 426 Hemi. I watched in wonder, Ford Mustangs with Boss 429 engines and AMC Javelins against Pontiac Firebirds. It was a wonderful idea and I absolutely loved it. Here were the best available factory engines in any combination of the current body styles. A race fan could watch a race between a compact Chevy Vega with the Chevy small block engine matched up against a Ford Pinto with a Cleveland, or a Hemi in a Duster against a four door Ford Maverick. It was a real hot rodders dream series. The culmination of all the old factory Super Stock race teams racing heads up against each other in a no-holds barred slugfest. Now skip forty years into the future and we have a fiberglass body that doesn’t resemble a factory offering and running engines never offered to the public at any time. Chevy entries now run a Hemi derived engine just like the MOPAR and Ford entries. They are built with a tube chassis, a fiberglass body and a race only designed engine that allows them to run faster than the funny cars of my day. Where has my Pro Stock gone? I want to see a true factory representation with a factory based engine. I want to experience the excitement of a win or loss by my favorite brand. Now I don’t really care who wins, as they are driving the same car.

What idiot comes up with the idea that equal everything means excitement? Why are the sanctioning bodies pushing the equal is better idea? NASCAR and NHRA Pro Stock began as an outshoot of fans wanting to see their favorite factory based street car on the oval tracks and drag strips. Somewhere along the way, some misinformed people that had an influence over the rules allowed the change from stock to happen. The Indy situation is even worse. There the rules have been implemented to curtail any innovation what so ever. It is a sad state of affairs when a wide open innovative series becomes a faster, pricier clone version of somebody’s idea of exciting. Maybe the IRL should take a real hard look at F-1 and see how innovation and challenging the rules have made that series so exciting this season. Something as simple as a rear air diffuser on these cars can make a huge difference in who is on top. Last year’s champion Lewis Hamilton is barely in the points. The reason for this is a brand new team, Braun GP, which pushed the definition of a part of the car. Braun and McLaren use the same engine package so they should be equal. Innovation allowed a usual back runner to win four out of five races this year and will allow Jensen Button to win his first championship. Now that’s exciting to me.

So what is wrong with the American racing series? In my opinion, it is as exciting as watching two identical objects dropped from a building. Who cares which gets there first as they are the same. Identical is boring, innovation is exciting. It is as simple as that. It doesn’t take a college degree or a multi-million dollar research firm to come up with an answer. Just talk with a true auto-racing fan. We do not want any more IROC series. One was a failure enough.
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5/12/09   |   sheikhshahul

weldwater wrote:
I think the problem is the cars are the same. Engineers and computers now instead of mechanics and drivers. They get a car side ways and save it. You hit the wall 5 times on the same side and win the race. I understand safety first. But theres no drama. Probation sucks, let the drivers defend themselves on the track. Let them fight, let their crews fight. To much about money and not enough about racing. COT stinks. Look at Bristol. It used to be one of the best tracks for side by side racing and tempers flaring. Now its like a train that just goes round and round. Talladega is still fun, but how can 2 cars out run the pack? Let the drivers be drivers and let the cars speak for themselves. Anybody notice how Jr. could run the wheels off the old car and cant drive the COT worth a crap? HMS spent millions more than anyone else in the R&D of the COT and has the advantage. Other teams cant keep up. I go to the races now to drink beer, spend time with friends and look at the girls. The racing really sucks!

no problem.

5/11/09   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

As I've said before, at this juncture, Honda and Dallara are the only companies willing to supply the IndyCar Series. The IRL though, is refining its car and engine formula for 2012 (the economic climate delayed it a year), and other manufacturers have shown interest.

As far as IndyCar is concerned at least, if the rules were liberated, it seems like all it would do is widen the gap between the haves and have nots. The well-funded teams would have the funds to innovate, while the have nots would struggle to survive. Given IndyCar's place in the market and the overall economic conditions at the moment, the series is concentrating on keeping costs down for now.

Plus, in the olden days, races would be won by muliple laps and cars would break down all the time. There are always trade-offs.

5/11/09   |   BearcatFan   |   6 respect

NASCAR is what's wrong with racing.  Even before the "car of the future" NASCAR was painfully boring to watch.  Badsam makes some good points about regulating the vehicles to the point of assimilation.  NASCAR killed all other forms of racing, and here's why:  there have been no significant advancements in technology for decades.  NASCAR still uses a carburated, pushrod V8.  Every car has to fit a template.  Much of technology we have in our vehicles today has been developed on the racetrack.  That has been stifled in NASCAR.The field has become much less than competitive.   In NASCAR, even if you did allow advances in technology, you would still have boring races because instead of a line of cars going around in a circle, you would have a line of cars going around in a circle, plus the line of cars getting lapped by the two or three fast teams. 
If top speed and safety are major concerns for keeping these cars slower, there are other means of slowing the cars down besides adding physical constraints.  The reason these cars are able to build up this kind of speed is because they only go in a circle.  If you want to slow the cars down, and make the racing more exciting, THROW IN SOME TURNS.  I can watch about 30 seconds of cars going in circles before I get bored and fall asleep.  Road courses keep things exciting.  Racing is about passing, and you pass in corners.  When you enter a corner, you must slow down.  You can't drive a road course ballz-out always.  That one simple change would make the sport that more interesting.  I am thoroughly convinced that people only watch NASCAR to see the cars wreck.  With full course cautions, concrete walls, non-competetive cars, no turns, and 180 mph sustained speeds, it is a recipe for carnage, and that's what the fans seem to want. 
Earlier I said that NASCAR is what is wrong with racing, and here's how:  the boring is not just affecting NASCAR.  Since NASCAR has such a huge following, that is all you see on tv.  Sponsors are going to spend money where it will get them the most value.  That is why you do not see Budweiser sponsoring competetive knitting tournaments.  NASCAR has taken over american racing to the point that people don't know there is something else out there.  That's all that is on tv, so that must be all there is.  Since so many watch NASCRAP, the sanctioning bodies of other forms of racing (IRL, AMA, etc.)  are adapting many of the rules to these sports in hopes of catching some of the popularity, and maybe some tv time.  Now, when I watch an AMA supersport race, I have to watch rolling starts, "competition" cautions, special rules for Buell, etc.  It's like watching a two-wheeled NASCAR race.  The only way to fix racing in this country is to stop watching it.  Stop watching NASCAR on tv, and stop going to the races, and the powers-who-be will scramble for ways to bring the crowd back in.  Until then, there is F1, MotoGP, WSBK, but those are all overseas.  The only domestic racing that is worth watching anymore is American Lemans.

5/11/09   |   Toejam   |   22 respect

Nascar needs to admit that the COT is an experiment gone bad, take the best features of the new car and incorporate them into the best of the old car. They can blame the economy for the fans staying away from the tracks but how do you explain the double digit drop in the tv audiance?  Do away with the chase, revert to a champion who was the best for the whole season, not one who peaked at the right time.....
     Nascar has alienated it's long time fan base it is time for them to take a look back and see what worked in the past to put them in the position they are in American motorsports. Let the drivers go back to being humans, not just corporate, politacally correct spokesmen who say the right things when the cameras are on them......

 Indy car racing has never recovered from the split between IRL and CART. I will watch Indy just because it is Indy but unlike the old days when i knew every driver and the story behind them  i won't know half the names in the field again this year.....I look for Danica to make a move to NASCAR soon, have a record number of hissy fits on pit road and become a walking talking money machine......

5/11/09   |   DigitalSquire   |   1 respect

 The best racing you will see is at your local track on Friday/Saturday night. NASCAR is now boring and over-priced.

5/11/09   |   hskrdave   |   10333 respect

 they took the Stock out of NASCAR, plus Money/Sponsorhips. And I think they need to shorten NASCAR races by about 60-90 minutes.

Indy/Cart  I think was hurt by the split, and they are trying to reunite (well they did reunite, but i mean get going again), and while everyone is using the same specs to get started again, they should diversify in the future.

I think the NFL made Parity cool.  But it doesn't translate to racing at all.  (and I don't think Parity is cool).

5/10/09   |   weldwater   |   244 respect

I think the problem is the cars are the same. Engineers and computers now instead of mechanics and drivers. They get a car side ways and save it. You hit the wall 5 times on the same side and win the race. I understand safety first. But theres no drama. Probation sucks, let the drivers defend themselves on the track. Let them fight, let their crews fight. To much about money and not enough about racing. COT stinks. Look at Bristol. It used to be one of the best tracks for side by side racing and tempers flaring. Now its like a train that just goes round and round. Talladega is still fun, but how can 2 cars out run the pack? Let the drivers be drivers and let the cars speak for themselves. Anybody notice how Jr. could run the wheels off the old car and cant drive the COT worth a crap? HMS spent millions more than anyone else in the R&D of the COT and has the advantage. Other teams cant keep up. I go to the races now to drink beer, spend time with friends and look at the girls. The racing really sucks!