The Theory of Petrol Head
There is no point in driving a fast car slow as there is (almost) no point in driving an F1 in a racetrack asphalt. This is the 101 of driving a road illegal fancy machine in a straight line without using any maneuvering driving skill. Rather, the ridiculous speed at the race pit cracks the nervous system of most of the racers. This is the strutting catwalk of a nervous fashion diva in the weirdest dress who can never use it in other forms let alone in the street!
Formula One is the science at its best and a product of mad professors and genius engineers at whitewashed labs. It is the showdown of expensive engineering marvels of automobile industry, where the only fun lies in enduring frequent lateral 5G force in multiple left and right-hand turns. Any steel-nerve noob with 10-2 clocking can clutch a V8 or V10 in a drag race and beat a quarter mile, unless he blows off his piston by throttling to the redline! If speed and automotive engineering were everything in racing, then hyper cars and Bloodhound SSCs would rule the racetrack.
The real fun lies in the spec class/performance series. Only a veteran driver takes a stock or tuned car and master the art of driving formats – NASCAR, Rallycross, Gymkhana, and Le Mans.
NASCAR is the racing series that runs in highly-banked race tracks. The drivers require pure breed of driving skill and run their stock cars at 200 mph constantly to the left at 2G force – resulting the NASCAR chassis literally bent to the left thanks to the intense centrifugal force. Rallycross takes specially built road-legal cars that run in a point-to-point direction – unlike the F1’s circuit format. The NASCARs and Rally sports do not use any laptops or telemetry. Like the F1, the Rally drivers do not have the technological luxury to tune their cars on the go.
Gymkhana is time and/or speed event and all about acceleration, braking, drifting, which is essentially a first and second gear play. It takes hand braking, drifting and sliding, left-foot braking, and grip driving and most importantly strong mental concentration to master the gymkhana.
Dubbed as the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency”, the 24 hours of Le Mans is the epitome of driving endurance. It is a mix of closed roadways and racing tracks, where the drivers have to sustain maximum speed at the expense of running 24 hours without having any engine failure. This prestigious driving format takes brutal submission to endurance, flawless mechanical design and automobile innovation that requires cars that last long on the tracks and spend the least time in the pits.
These racing formats started at the same time but took different paths. Rally sports and NASCARs began with moonshiners running loops around mud and gravels, and the F1 with rich playboys and their fancy race machines in clean circuits. Still today, it was simply the race of cheap vs. elite, dogs versus hors d’oeuvres. Only Gymkhana events started with riding horse long before speed cars were invented – incorporating pylons and obstacles to exhibit horsemanship. The Le Mans on the other side, took more prestigious and well-grounded path – starting with the most reliable GT cars that can stretch performance, endurance and speed at the same time.
All of these racing types need spec matched to racing art, and performance complemented by years of endurance and driving skill set that no racing school/simulator can teach. Mastering the heel-toe downshifting at the hairpin and chicane, and delving into the symphonies created in between the clutch shifting and crankshaft banging – it’s all in the non F1 play. No wonder F1 drivers retire and join the rally sports and derby leagues!
F1 is the eternal mojo to those who see it just as a sport. Autosmiths know it is just the portal to the real racing.