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Drag Racing: An Earth-Shattering Rush in the Blink of an Eye

Many of you who have read my past articles here at autoevolution know that I am a huge NHRA drag racing fan; not only NHRA but auto racing in any form. In particular, I am an avid follower of Formula 1, IndyCar Series, and NASCAR.
Through my many years on this big round ball we inhabit, I have been to countless NHRA events, two Formula 1 races (Singapore and Shanghai), four IndyCar Series races (Indy 500 twice and Long Beach Grand Prix twice), and numerous NASCAR races including the Daytona 500, and a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. When I cannot see them in the flesh, I try and take the time to catch them on TV. Regardless, I keep up to speed on the 'goings' on in each sport through the media.

As with all sports, some are better on TV than seen in person for level and degree of entertainment value. Take, for example, ice hockey; this is a must-see live and in-person sport where even the best TV coverage cannot come anywhere close to capturing the physicality and speed of the sport. Motor racing is no different.

Formula 1 races certainly have a high degree of entertainment value when experienced in person; the cars are extremely fast with highly skilled drivers behind advanced steering wheels however, there are so many variables involved with the sport that make it impossible to follow at the event. It is a rather technical sport that relies on a strategy revolving around tire compound selection, the number of pit stops to make, and the jockeying of a team's two drivers.

In addition, the sheer expanse of the race courses ('circuits' as Europeans say) makes it impossible to have a good vantage point throughout the race.
This type of open-wheel racing is a must-see on TV. The commentators do a marvelous job of prognosticating each team's strategies and their enthusiasm for the sport keeps you engaged.

IndyCar is similar to F1 in many respects however a large portion of IndyCar events are held on oval tracks with fan-friendly seating so, fans can most often see the entire race unfolding. Albeit, without being keen to commentary. IndyCars have greater straight-line speed than F1, but that speed margin becomes nominal when you have the ability to see the entire picture.

The National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) or NABCAR (National Association of Bumper Car Auto Racing) as I call it, has the same issues when following live as the other I have pointed out, but more closely is akin to IndyCar because of the tracks they use.

The thrill of witnessing F1, IndyCar, and NASCAR races for the first time live and in person is an unparalleled experience, but they are in totality, rather staid affairs after the first third of any race. The races become rather boring and certainly monotonous. I liken the experience to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time; awe-inspiring to say the least, but how long can you look at the hole?
With cameras mounted on the track surface, on the helmets of the drivers, and on various places of the cars themselves, watching on TV virtually puts you in the race. Sure they have entertainment value regardless of how you watch them, but they lack excitement value. All three are must-see TV sports!

National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) sanctioned events are a totally different animal in every regard and just the opposite when it comes to viewing live or on your telly. Much like hockey, this is must-see live and in-person sport.

This sport, especially the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes, is a smash-mouth in-your-face type of racing event that is flatly beyond compare when it comes to sheer awe and excitement value. In most venues, fans are right on top of the action to witness 11,000-plus horsepower machines blast themselves down a 1,000-foot (305 meters) strip at over 300 mph (482 kp/h) in just a few seconds, requiring parachutes to come to a stop.

In this style of head-to-head racing there is but a singular strategy; get off the line as fast as you can and do not let up until the chute deploys, period. There are no teammates to help protect your lead. You cannot bump your opponent off the track from behind. It is all-out adrenaline-filled blue-collar elimination racing at incredibly high-speeds and a real treat to experience live.
In addition, at many events, fans have access to areas behind the scenes where they can watch teams rebuild their engines on-site, which they often do after every run. There is no shortage of scheduled events in different classes that completely fill a Sunday afternoon.

I know most of the European readers here at autoevolution have never seen an NHRA event live, but I would encourage you to check one out on TV the next opportunity you have. It will pale in comparison to a live event, but it will no doubt pique your interest. Staid and boring they are not.

The bottom line is this- do you want to get on a roller coaster at Disneyland or a Ferris wheel?


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