Keith's Blog

America [Expletive] Yeah!

If you didn’t already know, I am a Canadian. With the 4th of July weekend among us, I would take this moment to talk about something that I like and am a big fan of something that is quintessentially american, NASCAR racing. I promise that there will be videos of cars crashing.

I have been a fan since the first race I saw on TV 12 years ago. It was at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama.

This is what Wikipedia says about the Talladega Superspeedway.

Speeds in excess of 200 mph (320 km/h) are commonplace at Talladega. Talladega has the record for the fastest recorded time by a NASCAR stock car in a closed oval course, with the record of 216.309 mph set by Rusty Wallace on June 9, 2004, but this doesn’t replace the record due to the fact it was a radio test and not a NASCAR sanctioned event.

In May 1987, Bobby Allison, after debris from a blown engine, cut his right-rear tire from the debris while going through the tri-oval portion of the track. The car was vaulted airborne. His car damaged a portion of the front stretch catch fence, but did not enter the spectator area. NASCAR imposed rule changes to slow the cars after the incident, with a 1988 rule requiring cars running there and at Daytona to use restrictor plates. The most often cited reason is a fear that the increasing speeds were exceeding the capabilities of the tires available at the time, as high-speed tire failure had led to some gruesome crashes at slightly lower speeds. The plates limit the amount of air and fuel entering the intake manifolds of the engine, greatly reducing the power of the cars and hence their speed. This has led to an extremely competitive style of racing at Talladega and Daytona.

The reduced power affects not only the maximum speed reached by the cars but the time it takes them to achieve their full speed as well, which can be nearly one full circuit of the track. The racing seen at Talladega today is extremely tight; often in rows of 3 or 4 cars, and sometimes even 5 lanes wide on the straightaways throughout most of the field, as the track is wide enough to permit such racing. Breaking away from the pack is very difficult as well.

Such close quarters, however, makes it extremely difficult for a driver to avoid an incident as it is unfolding in front of them, and the slightest mistake can lead to a multi-car accident – dubbed “the Big One” by fans and drivers. It is uncommon, but possible, to see 20 or more cars collected in the crashes. Occasionally, cars go airborne. NASCAR has made several advances in safety over the years to lessen the chance of a car going airborne.

This was that race (I do admit that it looks a little dated):

But most of you will remember it for this:

Since then, I was hooked. I thought it was the most exciting thing I have ever seen and even after 12 years, I still feel that way. The speed, the strategy, the competition, the action, the team mentality, the crashing, all those things managed to gain and hold my attention. I’ve watched every race, every weekend since then. I’ve also been to a few races in person and they were even more exciting. You can definitely see a lot more in person than you can when you watch it on TV. You’re so much closer to the action and the cars are a lot more louder than you expect.

This is a video I took of the start of my first race:

To those who are wondering why the cars are always turning left, NASCAR races run counter-clockwise because left turns are safer on oval tracks since the drivers sit on the left side of the vehicle, and the right-hand side would hit the wall in an accident. Left-hand turns are also easier for the driver to make while sitting on the left side.

Now the crashes I promised:

  • Top 10 crashes of 2010
  • Mega NASCAR Crash Compilation 100+ Crashes!

Trust me, there’s way more videos out there but that was just a little taste. I personally enjoy all the races but for those who enjoy the crashes, I would look up Daytona, Talladega, or Bristol but they ultimately could occur anywhere.

These are some pictures from my first race at Michigan International Speedway (and they’re so adorable)

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