compare and contrast…

Still feeling kind of empty and unmotivated following that abysmal display on the Saturday…

So it’s into the mailbag to answer a question… (ooh, how Robin Miller/Curt Cavin of me…)

Just prior to the weekend I got an email asking me why I don’t like ovals, or I guess, more specifically why I prefer street/roadies over the roundy rounds. And what tracks are my favorites.

Well after this weekend I guess the short answer could be “that’s why” 😉

but seriously…

It’s not that I don’t like ovals… it’s more that I prefer street/road courses.

Now of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t disclose or admit that there are/were some pretty shitty street/road courses out there too. Likewise, there are some ovals that are better than others.

I guess in terms of IndyCar, the flaws with the current formula are just that much more pronounced on the ovals.

Outdated, ugly, cars, that are in some cases undriveable, especially for the smaller, underfunded or newer teams, who, knowing that the formula is on the precipice of change, realize it would be like setting fire to money to do any worthwhile R&D at this point.

I don’t like how ovals are less about drivers driving skill than about the drivers surviving skill. You hear that all the time. “I was holding on for dear life” “I had no control”
Also it’s about windtunnels and technology, and drafting rather than actually racing.

I also truthfully feel that you don’t get a true sense of the oval experience watching them on tv. I find them mindnumbingly boring. Yet when I was in Vegas a few years back for the oval race (Champ Car), I could barely breathe or take my eyes off the track and the cars. It was a cross between exhilarating and terrifying. Only two races gave me that feeling last season. The Lights race in Kentucky I think (fucking insane racing by those kids) and the season finale in Chicago.

I guess as well that because my home race is a street course I am more partial to them. Also the bulk of my “in person” race experiences are street/road courses during the Champ Car years.

I like that on street/road courses (most of them) the drivers get to actually drive! They get to stretch their mad driving skills, and maneuver, left and right…

I also experienced the new DP01 during the final Champ Car season, which actually allowed for closer racing and actual passing on street/road courses, so the racing was actually pretty damn good as the series gasped it’s last breath… 😦

My preferred track would be neither a street or a road course, but rather one of the airport courses like Cleveland or Edmonton. It’s like the best of both worlds. Cleveland never disappointed! I can’t believe the brain trust is thinking of fucking with it if/when they bring it back.

Probably the most amazing track was the downtown temp street course in Vegas designed by the brilliant Chris Kniefel. That track had elements of all the genres of tracks. Long front straight, sweeping oval like turns, twisting and turning sections and elevation changes… Fuck it was awesome!! The drivers loved it. The fans loved it. It was gorgeous on TV, amazing in person. So sad that it ended up being a one off. After that race, I wished that “The Knife” would visit and revamp all of the street coures on the circuit.

I also loved Denver once they worked the bugs out and the drivers learned the nuances of the course and drove the shit out of it.

So there ya have it. I guess when it comes down to it, I have a love/hate relationship with all of the tracks on the circuit.

I also think the schedule is lending itself to setting up a hate hate relationship for many because of the clumps of genres together. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ovaled out right now. After that yawn inducing display the other night, the thought of two more in a row is making me wish for time travel.

What say you my peeps? Weigh in, lets gets some chatter going..


13 responses to “compare and contrast…

  1. I can see what you mean about the skill involved. Road racing does take more driving talent than oval racing. But (you knew there had to be a “but”) oval racing is about the whole package. The car, the team, and the driver. If all of those elements come together you have a race like Briscoe did Saturday. If they don’t you have a race like Jaques Lazier did Saturday.

  2. To utterly obliterate the words of John Keats: “A race without passing is a big ‘ol pile of ugly forever”. Oval racing traditionally has more passing than that with right turns, but that Texas race was dishearteningly dull. I would no more consider that as an example of an exciting race than I would Marty Roth as an example of a race car driver.

  3. Interesting read Meesh.

    I’m sure you know my opinion on this matter— road courses all the way. A drivers ability to use the brake says more about their talent than their ability to use the throttle— IMHO.

    That said, there have been some real solid FIL oval events to start 2009.

  4. I have a preference towards road and streets, too. That said, it took me a while to get to that point. The first race I saw on TV that I can remember was an oval and I enjoyed the speed as well as that sort of, “Oh my, how are these people doing this?” factor. Then add that the ’92 Indy 500 was one of my favorite moments made oval racing even more preferable to me. Road and street racing just seemed so “tame” in comparison.

    Funnily enough, road racing became more intriguing to me when I started following along on T&S online. Video games helped me appreciate it, too, as I felt more satisfied racing on road/street circuits than ovals. Obviously, a great oval race is just incredible but the “twisties” get me going more now these days. Even considering that quite a few of the IndyCar races on those circuits are lacking, the effort put out is still a rewarding experience.

    I’m with you on Cleveland. I just don’t understand the disdain with the airport. God forbid they get a course that has often put on good racing! Same thing with the Las Vegas course though the circumstances are a bit different.

  5. Thanks Meesh.
    Go to Too Much Racing and see their video’s of Ilse of Man street course, it’s some amazing racing,and tracks like that would be great for the IRL. I agree, i find ovals not near as exciting as I used to, and probably because of that, I have started to really like the road and street courses. Of course, the IRL cars aren’t built for road street races, and it shows!

  6. The American Mutt

    While there is a significant lack of passing on the roads, passes do happen (if the driver isn’t some points only chickenshit) on road courses, and to be honest I’ve grown to enjoy those passes a lot more. That being said, having been at both Lites and IRL races at Kentucky last year, that was a hell of a show.

  7. I don’t like twisty parades. But it seems like this year the ovals are no better.

    The IRL needs good tracks (of whatever persuasion) that are fast and allow for passing.

    And cars that can not only catch another car, but actually overtake it.

    I think the Indy Lights series has been more entertaining that the Big League. What could they learn from that?

  8. Thanks for the shout, Dylan. 🙂 When we say ‘road racing’ in Europe we literally mean ‘racing on a road’ as opposed to a race track. But IOM isn’t suitable for any cars unless you use rally cars. Or Minis.

    Obviously I’m going to pick road courses as my favourites because I grew up watching them but it is like anything, you have to have the right ones. We’ve got Hungary coming up in F1 and Sears Point in IndyCar, these are NOT the right ones!

    I do like ovals though, when I saw my first I was captivated.

    I’ve never taken to street races as anything other than ‘events’ in which people crash a lot. Great atmosphere when you are there but the racing sucks.

    Cleveland never worked for me through the TV. Can’t imagine why it would in person.

    The IRL needs to go to Road America. That the top single-seater series in the US doesn’t visit Elkhart is a crime.
    One of the best tracks in the ’07 Champ Car schedule for me was Mont-Tremblant, they should go there instead of that shitty thing in the river in Montreal.

  9. Ovals are better in person, without exception. Places like Kansas, Chicagoland, Iowa, Milwaukee — you can see the entire track from virtually every seat and there is always something going on somewhere on the track. Just like street/road races, some ovals are better than others. I join the consensus here that the 2009 IRL ovals have been crap so far.

  10. IMO the greatest shame in the world is that ICS has gone away from Michigan International. I attended several Michigan 500’s pre-split, and there was no finer place to watch a 500 mile race. While I understand that some of you who previously follwed CCWS are awestruck by road/street circuits, oval racing with turbos and varying engine/chassis/ tire combinations is what open wheel racing USED TO BE all about.

  11. I love ’em both! I just want to see good racin’. I think PDog has a point: it’s nice to see the whole track in person. It’s tough to figure out what the hell is going on at a road course. On the other hand, roaming the scene at Long Beach is nearly as fun as the race(s).

    And, I’m with Meesh on Cleveland. Some of the best racing ever. Tons of room to set up the pass. You can apex anywhere on that track. Can’t do that on a narrow street course.

  12. Meeeeeesh…….what’s doing my friend…..are you ‘Glen-ing’ this year…….man we had a blast last year……I’ve pretty much dropped out of the IndyCar reporting and editorial scene since Long Beach (which was pretty awesome btw) as I’m currently doing my Diploma and Degree in Media & Communication – I know, I know I need my head read going back to University right!!!

    Anyway my friend, as I seemingly spend pretty much every waking moment on studies and a ‘never-ending’ array of assignments, you must keep me posted as to what is happening to my ‘hommies’ Will P. and Ryno as I’m soooo far out of the loop it’s not friggin’ funny.

    Keep safe matey, and most importantly – keep in touch.

    Cheers, Macca.

    • Maaaaaaaacccaaaaaa!! hehehe!

      I’ll reply here, but also drop you an email you busy bee you!

      So basically you stopped working in media/communications so you could study it?? LOL! Good on ya! I would love to go back to school… Minus the assignments and exams and such…

      I am Glen-ing it this year! PT’s on track baby! (Ok, I was going anyway, but still!) It was fun last year wasn’t it? Our creepy little motel in the middle of town LOL! I’m staying in fancier digs this year. At the very least without the creepy mom in the lobby…

      Will-P & Ryno are essentially Helio’s Penske bitches. Will got him the points which is the gift that keeps on giving as far as points and pit position goes. Yet he sits on the sidelines with his thumb up his ass. I would imagine he is receiving some lovely compensation to do so however. Apparently he’ll be in the car for 5 races this season. (Whatever one’s don’t conflict w/ Grand AM as that is the crew for the 3rd car.

      Ryan does the lion’s share of the work on track then the team makes questionable calls (short fills) or no calls (when twinkletoes throws epic block parties on his teammate) and Ryan ends up in the bridesmaid position. It’s clear that Penske and the series are pushing for Castroneves to win the championship, and things are happening to ensure that happens… (She says enjoying the view from her black helicopter…)

      What else ya wanna know? LOL!
      The racing has been mostly boring, especially this middle chunk of endless ovals… Zzzzzzz

      My little EJ is having an epicly bad season, Moraes is proving everyone wrong, and the Princess has been taken over by pod people (can you say contract negotiations?) Look for her smiley face to peel back once the ink is dry, to reveal something even more evil than before…

      I’ll text you from the track in a couple of weeks like you did to me from Long Beach! 😛

      Miss ya matey!!

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