What F1 can learn (and forget) about NASCAR


Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren-Mercedes, Suzuka, 2005 | Daimler ChryslerI watched the first round of the 2008 NASCAR season yesterday – the Daytona 500.

I’m not a big fan of the style of racing but I’ve got a list as long as my arm of the things F1 can learn from NASCAR’s presentation.

What F1 can learn from NASCAR…

Loads more cameras – F1 uses a few distant, wide-angle cameras to cover the races, and a couple of high-mounted on-board cameras.

NASCAR has stacks of on-board cameras (admittedly it’s easier to fit them to big stock cars), static wall cameras that shake as the cameras pass, helicopter and blimp cameras, and cameras in the floor to show the cars zipping past. It gets the most out of the spectacle.

Team radio – Constant chatter from the teams and drivers was fed throughout the NASCAR broadcast – even a discussion between two team mates at one point.

F1 teams are allowed to withhold their conversations from the airwaves – which Ferrari and McLaren make heavy use of. The radios should be open and free for TV stations to use and fans at the track to listen to.

Talk about the history – before the race they had the drivers pick their favourite moments from past Daytona 500s and why they liked them. F1 should do this more – and Ecclestone shouldn’t be so stingy about letting TV companies use the footage to illustrate it.

High definition – NASCAR has it, F1 doesn’t. F1 needs to get this sorted now.

…and what it should ignore

Constant interruptions – If you think F1 gets a lot of interruptions (up to 15 minutes of adverts per race) NASCAR has much more.

Happily the UK broadcast on Sky didn’t cut away to adverts on every occasion the American feed inserted them, but on top of the breaks the commentators even take time out from talking about the action to plug various products. No thanks.

Boogity – Many UK F1 fans think ITV commentator James Allen is annoying. They probably wouldn’t if they had to put up with Darrell Waltrip shouting “boogity boogity boogity” every weekend.

Four hour races – Everyone told me not to judge NASCAR on the Daytona 500 alone and I can see why. Nothing happens for 180 laps, then there’s a couple of crashes and it finishes. Hmm.

Photo copyright: Daimler

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37 comments on What F1 can learn (and forget) about NASCAR

  1. Scootin159 said on 19th February 2008, 14:33

    Marc – “Unless you chose to qualify that statement (i.e. note only 2 of 36 events are held on road courses) I would suggest even you wouldn’t much care to be part of a safety crew or a driver of a disabled car would be in favor of 180mph cars conducting a “race” in three corners and have to slow for an “area caution” for one single corner. And that corner being in many cases less than a mile and 10-25 seconds away.”

    I guess I should expand on that statement a bit more. I don’t mean to imply that we should have cars going 180mph past workers on track. I’ve worked as a course worker before, and understand the dangers involved there.

    That said… I’ve worked as a course worker before… and I’ve seen 8 lap cautions for a plastic bag on the track. Ok, 1 lap to slow the cars down… get the bag… and you should be green by lap 3 at the latest.

    Or for that matter…. it’s a plastic bag! Throw the debris flag, and be done with it.

  2. openwheel said on 19th February 2008, 16:52

    As an American F1 fan I watched the coverage for Daytona. First off Daytona is said to be NASCAR’s greatest race of the year. It is also the first of the year. So the coverage was like it is for the American Football’s Super Bowl. The commentators even said that this is the super bowl of racing. This is why the coverage was this big. No other race is covered this big. But even when NASCAR covers a race in the middle of the season the coverage is more comfortable then ITV’s. The coverage is for the viewer they try to make you part of the show. ITV just shows the race. This difference is the way that NASCAR is percieved vs F1. NASCAR is the sport for the common man. F1 is elitist. I always felt the sparten ITV coverage was because of this elitist attitude of the sport. And the sport is elitist. The drivers are treated like rock stars. The owners like Gods and if you do not have an appointment you can not get within 500 feet of them or the pits. NASCAR is exactly the opposite. Like I said in a post on another blog. As an American I take what I can get from F1 because to me it is the best racing. I also can not see in the forseable future that we will hear any radio chatter in F1. To the powers that be we can not handle it. I feel that F1 looks down on the true fan. This sport is not for us it is for the corperations according to who runs it today. This is evident in the lack of marketing just go to the NASCAR website and travel to a team website. Look at all the gear they want to sell you. Now go to the McLaren website they will sell you last years FA hat for $20.00 I think they have a total of 10 items for sale. One NASCAR team will sell you every thing from a toothbrush to a beachtowel with your drivers logo as well as the NASCAR logo. F1 missed the marketing seminar!!! I feel that they need to get it together as this world market becomes saturated with racing deciplines.

  3. Pink Peril said on 19th February 2008, 22:24

    Seb Carter – for the last 3 years ALL the teams have done autograph sessions at the Melbourne GP. Also, if you are lucky – and persistant – you can catch the drivers as they leave the track.

    But as far as I am aware, Melbourne is the only GP where the drivers are accessible like this.

  4. theRoswellite said on 20th February 2008, 5:54

    OK,Ok,ok……here’s a knuckleball.

    Open wheel racing unifies in the US (todays news), they regain their lost American audience, plus the abandoned US/F1 fan, and use the NASCAR model to reach their audience….5 years out…they are as big as they ever were pre-split. Then…..10 years out…..they use that successful financial/fan/racing model to move off shore….filling a need for excellent open wheel racing in locations which F1 has abandoned, or doesn’t see as financially viable.

    And if you think that is scary, or ludicrous……….throw in building truly dynamic, fan friendly, racing venues that capture…the imagination of the fan, along with cars that can do more than turn left…..and 25 years out you have….the end to the dominance of Formula One.

  5. Daniel said on 2nd October 2008, 13:11

    Whats exactly wrong with Darrel Waltrip’s “Boogity, boogity, boogity, Let’s go Racing Boys”?

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