Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Formula One kicks NASCARS butt.

I want to start off by saying that I am now and have always been a motorhead. Seriously... no one can beat me at this. When I was four years old, my mother said that I saw the cover of my very first Hot Rod Magazine at the supermarket and cried until she bought it for me.If she had not sworn that she would disown me when I was young, I know that I would have worked my tail off, gotten a ride and probably have died in a fiery crash at some race track many years ago.

For my birthday all through my childhood, all I wanted was subscriptions to Hot Rod, Car Craft, Popular Hot Rodding, Truckin' (I was a 70's kid and vans WERE cool) and Car and Driver. When I was eight, I received a coffee table book about formula 1 cars that had one of those floppy plastic records inside called, "The sounds of formula one." which I played on my mothers old RCA console record player until it somehow disappeared off of the face of the earth a few months later. (I'm sure that my mother had decided that listening to full blast audio of Jackie Stewart doing laps around Monaco for the 800th time was all she could stand, bless her heart.)

I challenge ANYONE to out bench race me and know that my technical knowledge of all makes and models of automobiles and engines is stupid good. (Sample... the first gen Z/28's could not be ordered with air conditioning or automatic transmissions. AND there were less than 16 1969 convertible trans-ams ever built!) I was arguing the differences between the max wedge and Hemi when I was 8 years old to 20 year old men and I can still remember being dumbfounded at 13 when a 25 year old guy with a really sweet LT-1 '71 Z/28 thought that a close ratio transmission meant that the length that the shifter traveled between gear changes was shorter. (Seriously!)

Funny, though. I fell out of love with NASCAR many years ago while watching the Daytona 500 as a young man. I think Cale Yarborough flipped his car over and it didn't have a stock frame or floor pan under it. I was insulted! Suddenly, they were just hand built missiles that paraded around like showroom modified cars. To my young mind, I felt utterly cheated! It somehow seemed dishonest and my love for NASCAR quickly died off. I still just don't watch it much at all, even to this very day.But, to reiterate how much of an old school NASCAR fan I am, when I found out that Smokey Yunick had died a few years ago, I openly complained that I had been to Daytona 20 times and did not know that I could have gone to his shop and met him alive until that very day. I figured that any man who had lived that life could never have lived that long!

I had the same thing happen years ago in drag racing. Though, I am a monster fan of the men who built drag racing. I am still a HUGE drag racing fan and can call one of Drag Racings founding members, living drag god and legend, Tom the MonGoo$e Mcewen (Yes, Hot Wheels, Snake and the Mongoose.. mongoose) a friend of mine. I have sat in restaurants and been fortunate enough to have Don Garlits tell me about getting backwards on the track in Pomona in his first rear engined dragster and Joe Amato sit at Benny Hana's in 'Vegas and talk at length about how sponsors can get when you aren't winning. So, yes, I am now and always will be a drag racing fan.

Back in the 70's as a young lad though, I started seeing airplane wheels and all sorts of weird body work changes on top fuel cars and somehow just lost half of my interest in the love of drag racing. Give me two old Vega bodied 2500hp funny cars on Halibrands, running under crappy lights at night and I will be there with you. But, the 8000 HP super monsters of today have just taken some of the love out of it for me. Maybe when it became completely apparent that an average successful guy couldn't compete in top fuel drag racing and NASCAR, I just lost my taste for most of it.

Formula One racing, for some reason, has always been something I LOVE! I love it because no one makes any qualms about the fact that you need cubic dollars just to show up and that all the money in the world is necessary to get to the show, but it still won't guarantee a win. Maybe that is why I love it. It's the motorsports equivalent of space shuttle racing. Super, Ultra hi-tech, cutting edge dangerous quick, plus, those things are just too darn cool to watch!

Why am I ranting about this now? Because the new Formula one 2010 season starts this weekend and my DVR's are all warmed up and recording the practices on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and race on Sunday. The rules are all new, Mercedes has former Ferrari drivers behind the wheel, fuel stops are outlawed and things are going to get real interesting to watch.

If you consider yourself a true motorhead, then you owe it to yourself to study the new Formula One cars and start watching the races. You may just quit watching NASCAR altogether before its over, as well.(Sorry Colonel Sadler, but you just don't have Jensen Button!)

Thanks for the ads
Craig and Melissa Hull

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