Tuesday, July 21, 2015


John B. Marine | 7/21/2015 11:53:00 PM | | |
#NASCAR is the National Assocation for Stock Car Auto Racing. It is America's premier motorsports series. NASCAR's history dates back to 1948. Today's NASCAR embodies dramatic and exciting full-contact racing. This blog post is my own look at NASCAR. I am not expecting this to be a definitive and complete focus on NASCAR, nor do I really intend this post to be such. You are still more than welcome to (hopefully) enjoy this post.

--- NASCAR ---

Let me set the mood with some pictures.

^ from: grfd.org - Here is the NASCAR logo. I basically tried to find an image to identify this post.

NASCAR racing
^ from: www.sodahead.com - Welcome to the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Frenzied, take-no-prisoners, dramatic racing guaranteed every race in every NASCAR series.

NOTE: Some information taken from NASCAR's Wikipedia entry.

NASCAR is the premier motorsports category in America as it remains a quality showcase of full-contact racing. The names, tracks, cars, and races have changed; but the racing action remains entertaining for all to watch. Most of the racing in NASCAR takes place on a variety of ovals across the nation. They also race on a select number of road courses. But for the most part, a lot of people see NASCAR primarily for oval racing.

NASCAR was born in 1948 by Bill France Sr. A number of auto enthusiasts back in the 1940s were enamored with the idea of racing their vehicles to make money once prohibition was outlawed. Some of these thrillseekers loved moonshine. Cars back then were substantially lightened to be made better for racing. Such people who loved moonshine and took on racing in these modified cars were known as "moonshine runners." As unworldly illegal bootlegging was, moonshine to these people in the South was key to surviving and thriving back then. The racing was also key in making ends meet back then to some of the ones who took part in this dangerous activity.

To most people, some racing fans only tend to watch NASCAR to see the wrecks. Some people also only seem to discuss NASCAR when hard crashes are involved or some sort of non-racing moment happens. Hard racing entertains me; wrecks don't. I am, however, tickled pink about the sturdiness of the cars in the event of crashes. A huge example of this occured at the 2015 Coke Zero 400 when Austin Dillon's #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet wrecked hard after crossing the finish line. You could barely tell that was a car the way it flew into the catchfence and was ripped to shreds. Austin Dillon managed to walk away cleanly from the wreck.

Up next is a look at the finer details of NASCAR.

The Cars.

NASCAR today features a number of different automobiles from mostly American makes. Every car is powered by a normally-aspirated V8 engine making upwards of 800 or so horsepower. They are mated to a four-speed gearbox. The curb weight of these racing machines is around 3400 lbs. (or 1542 kg) or 3500 lbs (or 1587 kg). Over the years, the racing became more and more popular. The racing vehicles were all vehicles you could purchase at your local car dealer. This was all part of the "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" concept. The cars for the most part are fairly close to stock regardless of their great high speeds. The cars would become continually sophisticated, but never to the point of being nowhere near a pure race car. To put it a different way, let's just say that these cars aren't ultra sophisticated based on production cars, such as the difference between the road-going cars in DTM and their DTM racing counterparts. Here are some of the machines currently raced across a variety of series in NASCAR:

Cup: Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry
Grand National: Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Toyota Camry
Trucks: Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra

A number of past automobiles have been a part of NASCAR history including various other cars from current makes as well as certain makes currently not in NASCAR. Past cars include: Hudson Hornet, Ford Fairlane, Plymouth Superbird, Dodge Daytona, Ford Torino, Mercury Cyclone, Oldsmobile Cutlass, Pontiac Grand Prix, Dodge Intrepid, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Thunderbird, Ford Taurus, and the Dodge Charger. There were some other unique cars that raced in NASCAR including the Toyota Celica and the Pontiac Sunfire.

The Drivers.

Those cars and trucks are nothing without quality talent racing them. A number of all-time greats and future all-time greats have contributed to NASCAR's history. One of the greatest NASCAR racers of all time is "The King" Richard Petty. Other greats past and present include the following: Cale Yarbrough, Junior Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Sr., "Fireball" Roberts, the Wood brothers, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, the Allisons, the LaBontes, the Jarretts, and more. A lot of today's talent include Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, the Busch brothers (Kyle and Kurt), Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., James Buescher, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., the Dillons (Austin and Ty), John Wes Townley, Miguel Paludo, Greg Biffle, Cole Whitt, David Starr (fellow Houstonian!), and Matt Crafton among other personalities.

It was Jeff Gordon who got me into NASCAR back in 1999. I always cheered him on and always admired him. The 2015 season marks Jeff Gordon's final full season of racing as he's set to retire. If he doesn't win the title this season, he'll retire a four-time NASCAR Cup Champion.

IN CASE YOU'RE WONDERING... Do I think Danica Patrick will win in NASCAR? I think she absolutely will. Her IndyCar Series consisted of a grand total of one win. But if you ask me, I've always believed in Danica, and she WILL win in NASCAR. Don't know where. Don't know how. All I do know is that she has too much talent to not be even a candidate to win a race in NASCAR. Even if she doesn't win a race at all in NASCAR, I still think she has enough talent to pull out a win.

But of course... that's what I think.

The Tracks.

The majrity of courses run by NASCAR are ovals. Though at times, they also race road courses. A lot of racing fans often like thinking of some ovals as "cookie cutter" ovals. Mostly, these are ovals that seem the same across a number of locations. Some of the ovals run across all levels of NASCAR include the following: Daytona, Indianapolis, Talladega, Darlington, Bristol, Martinsville, Gateway, Chicagoland, Michigan, Texas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Rockingham, Atlanta, Pocono, and of course... Charlotte among others. NASCAR has raced a number of road courses also. Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen are two road courses raced by NASCAR, and one of the past courses they used to race was Riverside International Raceway. Other road courses raced on past and present include Road America, Mid-Ohio, Road Atlanta, and Portland International Raceway. NASCAR even once had some promotional racing like at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi Speedway and Suzuka back in the mid-1990s.

Those who miss classic tracks NASCAR used to race on remember tracks like North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and Riverside International Raceway. Rockingham did host a NASCAR Trucks race a few years ago.

The Races.

Most of the premier events take place in the Cup ranks.

• The year begins with the Daytona 500, but the racing before then happens well before then. Daytona Speedweeks is more like NASCAR's equivalent of training camp in the NFL. All of the racing does eventually get down to the prestigious Daytona 500 held in February.

• One of the other significant races in NASCAR is the Southern 500 at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, South Carolina, USA. This event is usually held in early May.

• Later in May is the Coca-Cola 600. This race is run in the evening and into the night on the same day of the Indy 500. Some drivers try to do the Indy-Charlotte double, making for a total of 1,100 miles of racing. I call the Coca-Cola 600 as the Le Mans of NASCAR as far as it being the longest race NASCAR runs all year.

• One of the latest most fascinating races of late is the Mudsummer Classic run by the NASCAR Trucks. This late July racing event takes place on a Wednesday around Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, USA. There are a number of heat races and last chance qualifiers to help set the field for the main race. The main race itself consists of a format of three segments at 60 laps, 50 laps, and 40 laps respectively for a total of 150 laps. To me, I don't see why they just have three 50-lap sessions much like how you have three 20-minute periods of hockey.

• While the Indy 500 has its charm, the Brickyard 400 has been a NASCAR staple since 1994. The Brickyard 400 is NASCAR's premier race around the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Victory here is almost as prestigious as winning the Daytona 500. This is also a late July event.

These are among some of the more popular races run all year in NASCAR.

NASCAR All-Stars.

On the Cup level, there are all star festivities that take place. Competitions range from the Pit Crew Challenge to the All-Star Race itself around Charlotte Motor Speedway. What is heralded about the All-Star Race is that this is a non-points race that is just as competitive as any other. There are a few segments within the All-Star Race itself. The winner gets $1M USD. Not a bad prize to play for, eh?

NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The mark of most established sports is to have a Hall of Fame dedicated to those who helped revolutionize the sport and demonstrate excellence on and off the track. Charlotte, North Carolina is where you can find the NASCAR Hall of Fame and all of the cars and stars who helped establish NASCAR into the motorsports powerhouse it is today.

Now it's time to look a bit further into NASCAR.

--- NASCAR: Why Bother? ---

Here is a commentary section to offer my own thoughts on NASCAR before going any further. Agree or disagree at will.

There is a reason why NASCAR is so respected. To me, the series and its racing is as distinctive a motorsport as you can get. NASCAR has a character and personality with its cars and its racing comparable to most other disciplines and categories of motorsport. The cars are not seriously sophisticated or anything. After all, many people usually think of NASCAR stock cars as tanks- race cars that weight a lot and are more suited towards ovals than some of the world's top motor racing circuits. It is perfectly fine to not like NASCAR for whatever reason. But when you really think about it, NASCAR has an appeal and a character that makes it every bit as unique as any other established motorsport. When is the last time you heard NASCAR being described as (for example) "F1 without road courses?" While people may not like oval racing or the fact that stock cars are not as sophisticated as cars from series like the DTM or any GT/Sportscar/Endurance racing series, at least NASCAR is distinctive enough to be featured as its own series rather than some fake racing series.

Do you want some more proof that NASCAR is distinctive enough? Look at some of the different international racing talent that either raced in NASCAR or at least wanted to race in NASCAR: Narain Karthikeyan, Nelson Piquet Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Kimi Raikkonen, and Shigeaki Hattori among others. Many of the names I listed were ex-F1 racers! If NASCAR is such a crap series, then why do you think a number of racing talent want to race in NASCAR? I think it speaks to the level of prestige of NASCAR to want to race in this series. Even if you just run one race, at least you get to compete in a series with its own personality and charm. Maybe some top-tier international talent simply want to try NASCAR to add to their racing resumé or take on a racing challenge maybe a racer hasn't tried out. Why do you think games like Gran Turismo 5 wanted to showcase NASCAR stock cars? Without NASCAR being popular, I don't think even games like SEGA's Daytona USA series would have been possible. Movies like "Days of Thunder" and "Talladega Nights" wouldn't have been possible either.

Its popularity in the United States makes it the 800 lb. gorilla in motorsports TV and media coverage. If you are a motorsports series trying to gain the top share of ratings and media, you got to get past NASCAR. ...and good luck to you on that! The thing to take away from me in this section is that NASCAR is as distinctive a racing series as Formula 1, rally racing, drifting, drag racing, or anything like that. There are even people who think NASCAR is better than Formula 1! What does THAT tell you?

Anyhow... these are reasons why you should even bother about NASCAR. It isn't the only stock car racing series, but it is the king of stock car racing.

--- NASCAR: The Top Three Touring Series ---

There are three series that most people know of in regards to NASCAR. I will feature those three here.


I refer to it as "NASCAR Cup" irrespective of the title sponsor. These days, it is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (or NSCS). This is the premier category of NASCAR Racing with the longest and most prestigious races. It is the main class of competition for people to get noticed in. Among the biggest races are the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400

Today's Cup racing is punctuated each season since 2004 with the Chase for the Cup. The way I understood the controversial Chase for the Cup is that Matt Kenseth won the 2003 Cup Championship but won only one race that entire season. So in an effort to try to offer a series more in line with most traditional American sports and reward winning races, the Chase format was set. The Chase for the Cup consists of ten races to close out the season with races around various points of America. The format started from giving the top 10 or top 12 in points a huge points boost to determine an eventual champion. Today's Chase format has a "win and you're in" format. It is simple- win a race, and you qualify for the "postseason." These days, the Chase has a format that eliminates a number of poor-performing drivers as the Chase progresses.

Many people have mixed reactions in regards to the Chase format and the Chase itself. Some like the format as it gives NASCAR some identity by spicing up the racing with this interesting format. Many others dislike the Chase because it doesn't reward consistency like most other racing series.

NASCAR Grand National.

These days, it is the NASCAR XFINITIY Series; however, I've always learned of this level of NASCAR as the Grand National Series. Many look to this series as the second tier of NASCAR's top three touring series. Races here are shorter than in the Cup ranks. Many of the drivers graduated from the Truck Series ranks and want to make that impact in Cup. Depending on who you ask, this series is either a feeder series to Cup or a lower-level NASCAR series that provides just as much excitement as Cup.

NASCAR Trucks.

The NASCAR Trucks series (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series today) features pickup trucks not afraid to get roughed up in racing. It is the lowest class of the top three touring series, but it features some of the most exciting racing. It is also the youngest of the three with the first championship dating back to 1995. Among the highlight races in this series are the Wednesday night race around Bristol Motor Speedway and one of the most recent special races- the Mudsummer Classic around the famed Eldora Speedway dirt oval in Ohio.

Even though these are three different levels of NASCAR racing, they all have their own identity and do not really feel like any traditional series of races or any sort of ladder system of NASCAR. So while they may seem like three different levels of competition, the series themselves feel more like individual levels of competition instead of a traditional ladder system of NASCAR.

--- NASCAR: The Other Series ---

So you know about the top three series. The sport delves deeper with a number of series most may not know of. I will make brief introductions to those series here.

NASCAR Modifieds.

The Modified NASCAR race cars consist of low-powered stock cars with significantly less bodywork and an open-wheel format. The most common showcase on TV of Modified racing usually happens at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. There is a Whelen Modified series and a Whelen Modified Southern series.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series is divided into two regions- East and West. This is a showcase of racing talent racing a handful of race courses on short ovals and even some road courses. It is a chance for drivers to step up to the higher ranks of NASCAR. One such driver from these ranks is Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., who is currently racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

NASCAR in Canada is highlighted by the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. A number of racing facilities across Canada play host to this fine series. They even include a few street courses. These cars are styled a bit differently and perform differently from some of the stock cars we're used to in the States.

NASCAR Mexico.

The NASCAR Mexico series features a variety of race courses and a variety of racing drivers from Mexico. Two graduates of this series racing in NASCAR in the United States include German Quiroga and Daniel Suarez. The tracks raced in NASCAR Mexico include various ovals and a number of road courses across Mexico.

NASCAR Euro Series.

Though Europe is the birthplace of the modern automobile, stock car racing isn't as popular in Europe as it is in the United States. Providing that spark of stock car goodness for Europe is the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. This series consists of stock cars racing across Europe. Venues raced include a number of ovals as well as some fascinating road courses. For example, the series races on courses like Brands Hatch, Valencia, Nürburgring, all among other courses.

You've now been briefly briefed on NASCAR's other series.

--- NASCAR: What If? ---

Because you're reading "John's Blog Space," you didn't just come here to get a simple look at NASCAR. I have to personalize things and be unique. So what you're about to read is all a bunch of random nonsense that makes sense ultimately. Feel free to chime in on any ideas that may interest you from these pieces...

What If: More Manufacturers?

I am a Chevrolet person, but it is sad Chrysler isn't in the series. Of course, I mean Dodge, but this is a series that has seen Mopar power from the likes of Plymouth and Dodge in NASCAR. I'd surely want to see Dodge return to make it Chevy vs. Ford. vs. Dodge vs. Toyota.

Now what about other manufacturers? What would they bring? This list below features a number of other manufacturers and what I think would be interesting to see in NASCAR. All of them consist either of makes not in NASCAR or makes in NASCAR but with other products:

• Acura: TLX or RL
• Lexus: IS
• Infiniti: Q50
• Volkswagen: Jetta or Passat
• Audi: A3 or A4
• BMW: 1-series or 328i (or maybe the M4)
• Mercedes-Benz: CLA (or maybe the C-Class or E-Class)
• Honda: Accord (or MAYBE the Civic)
• Nissan: Altima or Maxima; Titan in NASCAR Trucks
• Mazda: Mazda6 (or maybe the Mazda3)
• Subaru: WRX (or maybe the Legacy)
• Hyundai: Elantra, Sonata, or (maybe) the Genesis Sedan
• Kia: Forte (or maybe the K900)

What If: World Tour?

Despite its advances to be more international, NASCAR's roots are deeply entrenched in the South. NASCAR could still put on a great show if it visited some international locales. Here are some venues outside of America in which I think NASCAR would be great to see around the world:

--- North America and South America ---
• Mosport (Canada)
• Mont-Tremblant (Canada)
• Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (Mexico)
• Queretaro (Mexico)
• Puebla (Mexico)
• Autodrómo Internacional de Las Américas (Dominican Republic)
• Bushy Park (Barbados)
• Brasilia (Brazil)
• Interlagos (Brazil)
• Buenos Aires (Argentina)
• Potrero de los Funes (Argentina)

--- Europe and Africa ---
• Rockingham (England, UK)
• Silverstone (England, UK)
• Brands Hatch (England, UK)
• Knockhill (Scotland, UK)
• Catalunya (Spain)
• Ricardo Tormo Circuit (Spain)
• Circuit Paul Ricard (France)
• Magny-Cours (France)
• Zolder (Belgium)
• Zandvoort (Netherlands/Holland)
• Eurospeedway Lausitz (Germany)
• Nürburgring (Germany)
• Oschesleben (Germany)
• Hockenheimring (Germany)
• A1 Ring (now Red Bull Ring) (Austria)
• Mantorp Park (Sweden)
• Monza (Italy)
• Mugello (Italy)
• Misano (Italy)
• Vallelunga (Italy)
• Moscow Raceway (Russia/Russian Federation)
• Kyalami (South Africa)
• Phakisa (South Africa)

--- Asia-Pacific ---
• Istanbul Park (Turkey)
• Bahrain International Circuit (Bahrain)
• Losail (Qatar)
• Yas Marina Circuit (United Arab Emirates)
• Dubai Autodrome (United Arab Emirates)
• Buddh International Raceway (India)
• Sentul (Indonesia)
• Johor Circuit (Indonesia)
• Sepang (Malaysia)
• Shanghai International Circuit (China)
• Guangdong (China)
• Suzuka (Japan)
• Fuji Speedway (Japan)
• Okayama (Japan)
• Sugo (Japan)
• Korean International Circuit (South Korea)
• Mount Panorama Circuit (Australia)
• Sandown (Australia)
• Philip Island (Australia)
• Eastern Creek (now Sydney Motorsports Park) (Australia)
• Barbagallo (Australia)
• Taupo Motorsports Park (New Zealand)

Any combination of venues from each of these three regions would be great for a NASCAR World Tour. Would this ever happen? Likely not. However, it would be great to see an international tour of NASCAR featuring some of the top drivers and teams in the series. I kept this list mostly to permanent and semi-permanent courses.

What If: A Road Course in the Chase for the Cup?

Road courses offer a greater challenge than most ovals. Trouble is, while NASCAR races road courses only so often, there are two schools of thought on NASCAR road racing. A lot of racing fans think road courses aren't racing. Like they'd rather see NASCAR drivers beat each other around on ovals rather than road courses. Also, what road courses would make for great racing in NASCAR's top category?

One thing to consider about the Chase for the Cup is that these are 10 courses spread across different regions of the nation. This 10-race format is like its own national championship. So I have a few ideas as far as road courses are concerned. Two road courses I would definitely want to see to spice things up would be either a Canadian venue or a very good Southern road course. I would probably replace Loudon with Mosport, Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve, or Mont-Tremblant. I could say that I could replace the second Talladega race with a stop at Barber Motorsports Park. However, I kind of would want to keep Talladega because the race is such a Wild Card in NASCAR. The championship ends at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Prior to this, how about racing Road Atlanta or Sebring? Or let's make things interesting- make Homestead the penultimate race and settle the championship at Sebring!

NASCAR would have some options, but how to modify the schedule to make these road course races in the Chase happen is the real deciding factor.

What If: Fewer Races or Shorter Races?

The grind of the NASCAR season goes from February to mid-November. Some people feel there are too many races or races that seem too long. Some other people even think some tracks shouldn't have two races to them. So one thing I was wondering is... would you rather have fewer races or shorter races, or maybe a combination of both? I am not sure where I would stand if I were asked this question. I used to be able to watch most of the races. But as I got older and stuff, I only mostly see the whole race for mostly the more prestigious races. Having fewer races and/or shorter races would probably result in much less money being made. On the other hand, teams and drivers will have more chances to relax and maybe not spend as much time and money building cars and doing testing and such.

DISCUSSION: Would you favor fewer races or shorter races in NASCAR? Or maybe both?

Thanks for reading this section! Now you have some unique NASCAR perspective from me. You're welcome.

--- For More Information... ---

Want more NASCAR? Here are some links for you:

NASCAR Official
NASCAR on Facebook
NASCAR on Twitter
NASCAR on YouTube
NASCAR on Instagram

I hope this helps you all.

That concludes this blog post on NASCAR. I hope you enjoyed your time here.

Are you a NASCAR fan? What do you love about the series? What would you change to make it better?

Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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