Monday, 28 July 2008

Tyre de Farce?

I spent Sunday at the races with Matt's cousins Kevin and David and David's kids - Jacob (13) and Danny (15). It a stroke of luck that I'm in town for the Nascar 400 - the second biggest race of the year at Indianapolis' Brickyard track.

I'm useless with cars, but managed to gen up enough information from the Indy Star, so as not to look like a complete fool. Over 300, 000 spectators turned up and we all got major sunburn. With the speed and the noise of the cars, and the excitement of the gathering, it was an incredibly impressive spectacle.

My only reference point really is F1 - but this kind of racing is very different with pit stops every ten or twelve laps and the safety car out at the slightest sign of a bump or nudge. In all the race was stopped eleven times, each time this allows the field to bunch up again and again, in turn this leads to the feeling that some unseen force is manipulating and controlling the result. It wasn't a surprise when Jimmie Johnson, who started in pole won, after successfully managing an 'enforced' pit stop, he rode out the final ten laps of green flag racing, unchallenged.

The crowd felt cheated - being live at an event fills you with the irrational belief that you are an essential part of the proceedings, or at the very least that you can influence them. That simple pleasure is taken away when officials, sitting faceless in a box, determine the rhythm of the race -without any sense of twists to the narrative.

There is so much money involved, that I wonder if this form of corruption becomes inevitable? Good Year recently bought an exclusivity clause to supply all the tyres for the race and they seemed unable to keep the drivers safe, without regular checks and suspensions of the action. Without doubt they were pulling the strings to ensure driver safety - yes, but in their monopoly of the race tyre (which turned out to be untested and a bit dodgy on this track) -the competitive edge is severely blunted. It makes sport as undramatic, impersonable and dull as watching lottery balls come out of a machine.

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