This is a paper I did from 2004.
There are many facets to the exciting world of motorsports but I will present just two. NASCAR has become extremely popular in recent years (second only to Football in the US) possibly because of its simplicity. In a different kind of racing, the events are held in 16 countries all across the globe; so it has become popular worldwide. This superior sport is called Rally racing.
Rally cars compete mostly on dirt roads and some pavement, whereas NASCAR cars drive on an oval pavement track. Rally drivers have to watch for constantly changing road surfaces, from ice-snow-mud-gravel, curvy back roads, public roads with set speed limits, jumps, ↓
fording streams, cliffs, and animals jumping out on the road. NASCAR drivers race on ovals that have flat straight-aways and banked turns, yet they compete with 43 other cars simultaneously. Rally drivers rarely pass, or even see another car.
“Rally cars are thus unlike virtually any other top-line racing cars in that they retain the ability to run at normal driving speeds and indeed are registered for street travel.” (fact-index). They are small, 4 wheel drive, turbocharged cars that can go up to 130 mph but average 70-80 mph. “Stock (NASCAR) cars superficially resemble standard American family sedans, but are in fact purpose-built racing machines built to a strict set of regulations governing the car design ensuring that the chassis, suspension, and such are architecturally identical on all vehicles. Ironically, these regulations ensure that stock car racers are in many ways technologically less sophisticated than standard cars on the road.” (fact-index).
Drivers in the World Rally Championship hail from all different countries and are usually bilingual. They race with someone else in the car. This person is the co-driver. Their job is to read pace notes to the driver to give them a chance to be ready for what the road is like just around the bend. NASCAR drivers race alone and sometimes struggle to speak English well.
The maintenance crews for both sports are very highly skilled. The rally crews have 12-15 minutes every 3 or 4 stages to fix what’s wrong with the cars and replace broken or hanging parts. Then they have all night to get the car ready for the next day’s battle. NASCAR crews take just 13-17 seconds to provide support for their car as it makes its way around the oval track.
NASCAR drivers can pull in for service whenever they need to. If a rally driver flips off the road into a tree and spectators get them back on the road, they might have to wait 60 miles before they can repair their car.
The spectators for both sports are fairly similar. While most of them are average blue collar workers, there are wealthy fans as well. They all like to drink and have a good time. Rally fans are from all over the world and can see the race for free. They can stand or sit closer than 20 feet away with no fence between them and the action. NASCAR fans are mostly from the United States where all the races occur. They have to pay for tickets, and are separated by bleachers and fences from their favorite cars; unless they want to pay $200 + for a pit pass.
So, where NASCAR is straight, Rally is curvy. Where NASCAR is American, Rally is international. Where NASCAR is flat pavement, Rally is bumpy and muddy. Where NASCAR is turning left, Rally is sliding 180 degrees around a hairpin turn down a mountain road, just feet from a cliff that’s hundreds of feet tall. Where NASCAR is lacking complexity and just plain not entertaining, Rally is very difficult and an enthralling spectacle.
“Press release.” 2 March 2004. Federation Internationale De L’Automobile. February 6th 2004. <http://www.fia.com/mediacentre/Press_Releases/FIA_Sport/2004/300104-01.html>.
“Rally racing.” Fact Index. 24 February 2004. <http://www.fact-index.com/r/ra/rally_racing.html>.
“Stock car racing.” Fact Index 24 February 2004. <http://www.fact-index.com/s/st/stock_car_racing.html>.
“rally pictures.” 2003 season <http://www.wrc.com/en_GB/Gallery/Photo/2003>.
“NASCAR pictures” <http://www.nascar.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/index.html>.