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Get Oval It

Wednesday 10th March 2010

Ignoring any question of how entertaining it may or may not be (500 mile races where only the last 2 laps really count? Why not just race for 2 laps them?), oval racing is incredibly dangerous. There’s no way it can’t be. The corners are banked so the cars can go quicker, which means that all the way round the outside of the track is a wall. At most road circuits like the ones raced on in F1 or touring cars – which are more interesting and provide for more compelling racing – there is runoff. The walls aren’t right next to the road the cars race on because that’d be rather dangerous.

So in NASCAR, what we have are cars lapping very close to each other, at about 185mph, with a wall running all the way round the outside of the track. When things go wrong it can be nasty, because if you fuck up there’s a very good chance you’ll be going into said wall at 185mph. Which, all things considered, is less than ideal.

In the last NASCAR race, one of the drivers – Carl Edwards – committed possibly the worst foul I’ve ever seen in any form of motorsport. Actually, probably in any form of sport generally- when someone fouls in football or rugby, it doesn’t send them crashing into a wall and flip them over. At 180mph. This was insanely dangerous, so what would you expect the driver’s punishment to be? A ban for a few races? Maybe even a permanent ban? Massive fine? Guess again! He’s been put “on probation” for 3 races. So he’s ok as long as he doesn’t deliberately crash into someone in the next 3 races.

F1 got this right last year. In the wake of the Singapore 2008 scandal, the FIA effectively purged everyone who was involved from the sport (except for the drivers, but Piquet essentially purged himself by being shit, and Alonso “didn’t know about it”. Sure he didn’t…), which sent the message that “this is not acceptable”. Edwards’ misdemeanour in Atlanta was much, much worse, so to my mind the fact that they’ve not really punished him only serves to discredit NASCAR.

Not that there was much to credit to start with, but that’s a different debate…

Posted at 1:46 am | Posted In: MotorsportRant Tagged:

2 Comments:

Jenny

Friday 12th March 2010, 3:00 pm

Oh my word. That’s… the weird thing was how in the interviews afterwards it didn’t seem like all that big a deal, no-one got hurt, etc etc, but, I mean, my *god*, that was quite some crash and woah. Basically.

Dickie

Friday 12th March 2010, 5:04 pm

Yeah, there are a few of those happening in Nascar this year because they’ve fucked up the aerodynamics. When the cars spin and go backwards, they get airborne, like in this case. This crash could’ve been much worse because the car could’ve gone into the crowd. In fact this happened last year, with the same drivers in fact! The crash this last weekend was partly payback for the earlier one, I think.

Ovals are generally bad for crashes. IRL is much worse than Nascar because they’re generally lapping at around 200+mph, and open wheels make it easier to launch cars. Crashes like this and this and this are truly terrifying.

Circuit racing can be just as bad, but bad crashes happen less often. I remember seeing this a few years ago, which was fairly horrible, until we knew he was ok. And also this last year, in which Massa was extremely lucky. That was particularly scary because it came a week after Henry Surtees’ death in an F2 race at Brands Hatch, when he was hit on the head by a flying wheel.

And the less said about rallying the better. I don’t know how people can drive so quickly, on loose surfaces, next to trees or massive sheer drops. They must be bloody insane.

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