10 Things NASCAR and F1 Can Learn from One Another

Curtis HiggsContributor IJuly 21, 2011

10 Things NASCAR and F1 Can Learn from One Another

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    NASCAR and Formula 1 are arguably to the two biggest and most popular racing series in the world.  Each series has very distinct characteristics that makes it unique and exciting to watch.  I happen to love both NASCAR and F1, but as good as each one of these series are they both have there flaws and could go for a quick once over to fix these issues.  I have compiled 10 things that each of series could learn from one another to help make their respective sports better.  

NASCAR No. 5:Qualifying

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    To begin, I would like to recommend to NASCAR that they take a look at the qualifying system used in F1. In F1 they use a knockout system of qualifying, which has three sessions ranging from 20 to 10 minutes in time with all the drivers out on track at the same time.  In each of the first two sessions, seven drivers are eliminated from each session, leaving the top-10 drivers to duke it out in the final session for pole position.  

    This would be an interesting system to try because it adds a level of excitement that two hot laps just can not match.  Think about how crazy qualifying would be at a track like Bristol with all the cars out on track in first session, or Daytona where drivers would probably use the two-car hookups.  This system would add excitement and hopefully improve fan attendance for qualifying.

NASCAR No. 4: Driving in the Rain

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    Driving in the Rain: this one has been the elephant in the room for NASCAR for as long as I can remember.  How many times has a little old rain cloud ruined a perfectly good NASCAR race, either causing delays or worse postponing the race until Monday.  In F1, many fans welcome rain into the race because it shakes things up and adds another level of excitement to the race.      

    This year's Canadian GP was one of the best races of the year and it is largely due to the fact that it rained.  According to Forbes.com the average NASCAR made $92 million in 2010, how about they take some of that money and develop a windshield wiper that can work and a good wet weather tire.

NASCAR No. 3: Parody Among Engine Suppliers and Manufactures

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    One thing I really enjoy about F1 is seeing some many different manufactures in the sport.  In the 2011 season there are 12 teams with four different engine suppliers and in NASCAR there are four engine suppliers but also 20 different teams.  In reality though with Dodge only supplying for one team it is more like three suppliers for 19 teams and this has never set well with me.  

     In 2006, F1 had 11 teams and seven different engine suppliers and this allows for fans to really find a favorite.  It allowed for the guy who drove a Honda something to be kind of proud when his team could beat a Ferrari.  I think there is room in NASCAR for a few more engine suppliers and manufactures such as Honda, VW, or Hyundai/Kia and I can only see this as being a positive move for NASCAR.  

NASCAR No. 2: Embrace Racing as a Global Sport

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    NASCAR is a sport rooted in its southern heritage and I do admire that NASCAR has stayed close to its roots.  NASCAR though needs to realize that this is 2011 and we live in global society.  The NFL, NBA, and MLB have all embraced this idea, but no one has done it quite like Formula 1.  With a 19-race season, Formula 1 visits 18 different countries on five continents with a field that has drivers from 12 different countries.

    NASCA,R on the other hand, has some foreign-born drivers, but very few and have almost no international races.  I believe NASCAR is trying to add drivers from all around the globe, but I think they are in need of an overseas race.  It doesn’t have to be part of the season, but maybe as an exhibition or shootout.  The EuroSpeedway or Hockenheim Circuit in Germany or Rockingham in the UK would be great places to host a race and expose thousands of people to the great sport of NASCAR.   

NASCAR No/ 1: Technology or the Lack There Of.

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    This is my biggest gripe with NASCAR, but it seems if they are coming around a little.  In terms of racing F1 is at the apex of technology on race cars.  Whether it be from carbon fiber, on board telemetry, aerodynamics F1 always finds new and interesting ways to make their cars go faster and ultimately apply the technology to road cars.  NASCAR on the other hand kind of works in reverse they still run carburetors, live axles, and four speed transmissions.  

    Try and find a new car with all three of these things, I’ll save you the trouble because it would be almost impossible.  Granted they are moving to fuel injection next season, but they are still miles away from where they should be.  Why can’t teams have on board computers to gather data, a six-speed semi-manual transmission, or undertrays for added downforce?  Technology should be welcomed into NASCAR not pushed away, it makes the cars better for racing and more relevant to the cars on roads today.      

Formula 1 No.5: TV Coverage

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    This is one area where NASCAR is just head and shoulders above the F1.  NASCAR has some of the best TV coverage out there on major channels like ESPN, FOX, ABC, and TNT, where as F1 is on SpeedTV for most of season with a handful of races being shown on FOX.  

    NASCAR gives pre-,in-, and post-race coverage with good commentators, excellent pit reporting, in-car interviews, and insightful technical explanations. F1 does most of these things just not on the level of NASCAR.  If F1 really wants to help itself it needs to be like the Premiere League and find a way back on to ESPN and expose itself to fans seeking an alternative to the oval track racing of NASCAR.    

Formula 1 No. 4: Lower Ticket Prices

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    I love when I hear guys on ESPN saying how expensive going to a baseball or football game is getting.  They must have never looked up the price for tickets to go to a F1 race because I think it would be cheaper to go the moon than a F1 race.  I recently priced tickets for the Brickyard 400 and they starting price for tickets was $40 which very reasonable, but I also priced tickets for German GP and starting price for grandstand tickets was $330!  

    That is over eight times as much, but is the racing really eight times better?  How is anyone without a trust fund supposed to be able to afford tickets to these races?  NASCAR knows that most people want to bring their families to the races and family of four could enjoy a NASCAR, plus food, drinks, and souvenirs for under the price of 1 F1 ticket.  So to you Bernie Ecclestone, I ask for you to give your fans a break and lower your ticket prices.

Formula 1 No. 3: Allowing Opportunities to Drivers from Other Series

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    People outside of F1 tend to perceive as a bit of an elitist club since it is very hard to come by a seat and race for a team.  NASCAR on the other hand has pretty much had an open door policy getting drivers from all sorts of different back ground.  Juan Pablo Montoya came from F1, Marcos Ambrose came from V8 Supercars from down under, AJ Allmendinger enjoyed success in the Champ Car, and Travis Pastrana comes from a background of primarily motocross and rally racing.  

     Many F1 pundits questioned current Force India driver Paul Di Resta’s openwheel talent even though he won the German Touring Car championship last year.  Just once I would like to see a F1 approach a NASCAR driver and offer them a ride.  You can’t tell me a guy like Carl Edwards or Kyle Busch couldn’t give the F1 drivers a run for there money.  A team like Virgin, Toro Rosso, or Williams should give that idea a try and see how it pans out for them.

Formula 1 No.2:Let the Racers Race Already.

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    At the beginning of last season, NASCAR implemented a new attitude towards in race conflict and that was “have at it boys”.  They began to allow drivers to drive with all the emotion that had once landed them in trouble with the league.  F1 needs to go ahead and administer this same attitude with their drivers.  It gets old every time a driver may accidentally hits another driver and then gets punished for just going out and racing.

    One event that comes to mind in last years Singapore GP Hamilton and Webber had a bit of scruff that was just two drivers trying to get to the apex first.  The two drivers collided, but Hamilton’s car sustained damage and was forced out of the race.  Many pundits called for Webber to penalized, but to me how could you punish a guy who is just out there doing his job.  Most of these incidents are unintentional should the stewards should turn a blind eye to them.

Formula 1 No.1: Too Much Political Drama

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    This is a bad time to be a sports fan because we are in the middle of two league lockouts and recently had a third that where a league shut down for an entire season.  Every season F1 seems to be on verge of a split because the team’s association, FOTA, and the governing body, FIA can not agree about something.  Last season it was about a big change in the rules and some of the teams did not like the new rules and threatened to form a separate series. This would have been a catastrophic move for the series and could have ended like the IRL/CART.  

    NASCAR on the other hand seems like the most stable sport in terms of the relation to drivers and teams or between the teams and league.  There has never a missed season in NASCAR’s 62 years and I doubt there will ever be.  F1 needs to find some stability in the management and the FIA needs to give it a break on make such drastic rule changes in the years to come.  2013 will be the next big change in F1 with a radical new set of engine and aero regulations and it should be the last for a while.   

Thank You!

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    I would like to thank all you for reading this article and would love to entertain questions and comments!