Friday, June 18, 2010

Stock Car Road Racing

John Marine | 6/18/2010 11:59:00 PM | | |
(UPDATED: May 10, 2012)

Stock cars were never designed to be road racing machines, but it doesn't mean that they can not be tuned to road race. I actually like watching stock cars road race because it gives us a chance to see these racers outside of their element. Road racing is an entirely different animal whereas timely shifts and properly attacking the apexes lead to victory. More people care about oval racing than road racing because of the excitement level oval racing provides. While I do love a good oval battle, road racing entails much more and takes much more out of the drivers. You really earn victory more in road racing than you do oval racing. At least, these are reasons why I care so much about road racing than oval racing, and it is also why I love seeing NASCAR do road racing. There are two main reasons- road racing exhibits drivers out of their oval racing ways, and it's great seeing NASCAR challenge their overall racing talent rather than just tackling three or four corners almost every race weekend.

I say "Stock Car" Road Racing, but the majority involves NASCAR. This blog entry may feature some bad language, so read at your own discretion.

LATEST UPDATE(S)/REVISION(S):

MAY 10 2012 - modified entire look of post and edited some tags to the blog post





--- NASCAR Road Racing: Why Should You Care? ---

Okay. It's not possible I can convince oval racing fans that road racing is where it's at, but I'll do my best to sway interest.

The main reason why you should care is because it's just different to watch. Doesn't racing get monotonous when it's just three or four corners of racing? Road racing tests your ability on a number of fronts. NASCAR is all about hard-fought racing no matter what circuits are raced. However, when you talk about road racing, you are talking about hard-fought NASCAR road racing while keeping driving skills intact. An additional challenge to this style of racing for stock cars is using the weight of the cars (all 3400 lbs of them) around a road race course. The emphasis is on making the car better able to tackle multiple corners while keeping it all straight in the corners and on the straights.

NASCAR racers who aren't good road racers often hire road racing specialists to take over the car for them. Part of me says this is laziness and not really challenging yourself, but another says that if you're not good at road racing, practice and train. If all else fails, hire someone who can road race better than you. At least you know there are times where you can not be in the car on a given weekend.

I only wish for two things in NASCAR- the Chase for the Cup MUST feature a road course. They can race at Road Atlanta, Barber Motorsports Park, or Sebring (if you want to make it an American Southeast-exclusive deal. You race two road courses in NASCAR Cup, so it makes no damn sense to not include a road course in this playoff of NASCAR. You want to be NASCAR champion? Race a road course in addition to all the other oval races.



--- Stock Cars in Road Racing ---

Let's look at various pictures I've found online (that I've offered credit to). This is your chance to see these oval-racing warriors take their turn at road racing.

Sears Point/Infineon Raceway.

NASCAR road racing
^ from: www.lowesracing.com - NASCAR Cup racing around Turns 3a and 3b at Sears Point (now Infineon Raceway).

NASCAR at Sears Point
^ from: www.autoracing1.com - NASCAR Cup cars at Infineon Raceway in 2000.


Watkins Glen.

NASCAR at Watkins Glen
^ from: www.automobilsport.com - NASCAR Cup cars down the front straight at Watkins Glen.

I used to like Watkins Glen, but not really anymore. It's just not as interesting of a race track to me anymore. The former United States Grand Prix course in upstate New York is still one of the most competitive racing tracks in the United States.


Autodromo de Los Hermanos Rodriguez.

NASCAR Nationwide in Mexico
^ from: zimbio.com - NASCAR Nationwide racing around Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

The NASCAR Grand National series (NASCAR Nationwide Series these days) raced around Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as one of two non-American courses. "Good old boys/girls" argue that NASCAR could find plenty of great race tracks in the United States, so the need to go outside of the United States is a very poor idea. Yet, many are perfectly fine with dealing with Canadian sports teams playing in American professional sporting leagues. There are two reasons why I loved this deal to go to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The first reason- it's not an oval. The other reason is because this is the kind of road race track that strongly suits stock cars. This track used to serve as home to the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Mexico. It is both a fast road course and a great fit for stock cars.


Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve.

NASCAR in Canada
^ from: usatoday.net - Native Canadian Ron Fellows racing around a rain-soaked Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve in one of the first-ever times NASCAR raced in the rain. He went on to win this race in 2008.

Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve was where NASCAR actually raced in the rain. Even years before this race, rain tires have been created for stock cars. They've never had to be used until one time in 2008. The NASCAR Grand National Series raced at Montreal in 2008 and in 2009 with rain falling from the skies. Road racing types like myself LOVED seeing these stock car drivers race around on a rain-soaked race track. A lot of purists, however, hated the thought of seeing stock cars road race in the rain. One person from cbssports.com called the race as an atrocity. Here was the quote someone made:


"Running stock cars in the rain is like playing basketball on roller skates. It is ridiculous. About the only thing worse than NASCAR road racing is doing it in the rain. Saturday's "race" was a disaster with visibility down to nothing and cars sliding everywhere. There was water inside the cockpits and fog on the inside of the windshields that made things even more dangerous. The race was called mercifully when the torrential rain really kicked in, but not before a terrifying accident that could have injured several drivers including Joey Logano. Battling the weather in NASCAR racing makes no sense and Saturday was a perfect example of how dumb such a move can be. I hope it doesn't rain at The Glen this weekend. "
- Pete Pistone, courtesy of cbssports.com in August 2008

In my view, NASCAR did a pretty damn good job of piloting these stock cars on an F1 race track and making good of their stock cars to do so. Braving the elements is a part of life in addition to sport. A number of the racers had to get creative. Some drivers were using their attached windshield wipers and even somewhat climbing out of the car to de-fog the windshield. So just because you're some good ol' boy/girl not used to seeing anything besides stock car road racing doesn't mean you should hate on NASCAR for doing this. If anything, at least this is something different. You may not get tired of oval racing, but I often feel like oval racing gets monotonous, especially when you do it almost every God-forsaken weekend. NASCAR did pretty good with their precious stock cars on a wet track. On effort alone, I give NASCAR an A- for their road racing in the rain at Montreal.


Road America.

The Milwaukee Mile, a usual stop for NASCAR Grand National, was replaced in 2010 with Road America. Road America WAS one of the longest courses in the United States until the arrival of Utah's Miller Motorsports Park. To give you an idea of what stock car racing would be like at Road America, here is a video of a USAR Hooter's Pro Cup car around Road America:




Portland International Raceway.


^ NASCAR Trucks at Portland in 1999

There was a time when the NASCAR Trucks raced around Portland International Raceway. Now, they're somehow too good to race road courses. You're going to do road racing in Nationwide and Cup, so why not include a road course in NASCAR Trucks? That's especially if you are thinking of stepping up to Grand National and Cup. Why NASCAR doesn't race on road courses in Trucks anymore is beyond me. And don't give me that poppycock about road racing not being "racing." Give the trucks some road racing competition in addition to the many ovals they race anyways. It's called diversity. Run a damned road course, NASCAR Trucks!


Riverside (Bonus!)

I want to blog about Riverside at one point. Want to know what stock cars were like around Riverside? Here is bonus content:



Thank me later! :D



--- Stock Cars Born to Road Race! ---

V8 Stock Car Road Racing
^ from: v8stockcar.com - V8 Stock Car Road Racing Series at Sebring Raceway against other cars.

The only stock car series that I know of that road races used to be known as the Stock Car Road Race Championship. Now, since maybe 2009, it's known as the V8 Stock Car Road Racing Series. This is a series that mostly races on the East Coast. In addition to these stock cars, a bunch of Trans-Am style cars race in this series.

To learn more about this series, please visit the V8 Stock Car Road Racing Series website, or even Become a Fan/Like them on Facebook.



--- Final Thoughts ---

Stock cars are race cars, and race cars race. Race car drivers race. Stock cars are not like drag racing cars where they serve only one racing purpose. These are pure racing cars, unlike some of the commercials that make them out to be road-going cars. You don't think that stock cars can do road racing? Check out this clip of a NASCAR stock car tackling the world-famous Laguna Seca corkscrew:



Even the now-defunct Speedcar Series featured stock car road racing mostly in the Middle East. So don't give me that crap about stock cars not being able to road race. They aren't F1 cars or sportscar racing machines, but at least it's better than watching just-turn-left racing. At least most of the melodrama most stock car racing provides is dispelled with something like road racing.

NASCAR's Canadian and Mexican series do more road racing than in the United States. NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race on tracks like Mosport (which is a better fit for NASCAR than some proposed new oval in the Toronto area), Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve, Toronto, and even the old street course around Vancouver. NASCAR Mexico and its other series races on tracks like Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Puebla's road course, and a bunch of other Mexican road courses.





Stock cars CAN road race. They don't road race enough. Even the IndyCar Series has a healthy balance of ovals and road/street courses. Crashes and Hollywood drama don't make racing; intense racing and tough courses make racing. So enjoy stock cars road racing!

Thanks for reading my blog and its entries!

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