Oddly enough, for a country where cars are sacred, the US has barely any capability to develop racing cars of any kind (NASCAR is low tech, Indycar, like most other US racing series, buys its cars from Europe), and there is little to no serious competition.
There are no modern racetracks (besides Austin), the facilities at ovals, even Indy, are cheap, low budget and utterly outdated compared to modern racetracks around the world.
There is very little competition outside the major series compared to the many dozens of competitive racing series around the world, and no way for talent to develop.
NASCAR's commercial success aside, the US is a third world country when it comes to racing.
Motorsports in the US reflect this "run what you brung" democratic ethos. The high profile manufacturers in US motorsports are not Ferrari and Lotus. They are Ford and and Chevy and Dodge (and more recently Honda and Toyota). The manufacturer's badges in the parking lot correlate with those on the track.
NASCAR's racing culture is an organic extension of the cars and tracks that make up local races on Friday nights in rural areas. Compared to Formula 1, NASCAR's rules are designed to keep cost per race down and more participation (about three times as many teams in 2013). They are designed to allow frequent racing (about twice as many races, more than two every three weeks).
Instead, high tech motorsports in the U.S. has historically focused on straight line speed, but it always keeps the "run what you brung" ethos.
Got a nitro-methane mixture in the tank ? There's probably someone willing to go mano-a-mano down the track. Four G's and four seconds later, it's decided. And turbine heads with a surplus jet engine will always have Bonneville where the Art Alfonses of the world can take on the corporate Breedloves.
One of the NASCAR ovals mentioned in the article was Bristol. It's in the middle of nowhere, 290 miles from Atlanta, 340 miles from Nashville, and separated from both by the mountains. It holds 160,000 spectators. They don't generally stay in four star hotels, they camp. Good luck finding such rooms in the nearest metropolis. Johnson City Tennessee ain't Monaco.
And there is tons of technology going on in the tin-top road racing and autocross world. I know folks working on open source engine management. There is currently an indie-go-go for an open source data acquisition system. The "import scene" is full of turbocharged four cylinder cars. Look at some of the cars we have now b/c auto enthusiasts have been screaming about why does Europe get them and not us: Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 Abarth, Mitsu Evo, Subaru STi, Ford Focus ST, Ford Fiesta ST. There are plenty of people in this country who like to turn left and right and are aware of what is going on in the rest of the world. We just do not make the evening news.
P.S. I also take offense to the metric system comment. I'm an mechanical engineer and in practice have to use both unit systems. I'd love if we could just switch to metric.
Race cars are not development, they are entertainment. This is like criticizing Europe for not having enough pro wrestling/luchador stuff going on.
Isn't that a common myth?
V8 Supercars, for example, debuts more tech in one race than NASCAR does in a season. Even WRC Rally cars are questionably more complicated.
edit: EFI was introduced 1 year ago.
They do make extensive use of sensors and telemetry, but the cars themselves are pretty retro.
Maybe it's just a quirk of culture, something that slipped under the radar and never made it back into vogue. No American drivers, previously no American tracks, no American teams, there's little to get a fan hooked in. F1 suddenly got a lot more coverage in the UK when we had a couple of drivers, and oddly more coverage still when we had drivers doing well, maybe having one really good American driver would change it.
F1 was run at the Circuit of the Americas two weeks ago, in Austin. I think F1 is to the USA as NFL is to the UK: there's a dedicated, small audience in both (judging from my Twitter feed), and they're both trying to extend their reach - F1 with more races in the US, and NFL with more games in Wembley. I think F1 is planning a New Jersey street race in 2014 as well.
Here's an on-board view of an on-board lap in Australia:
1400hp engine (in a car body weighing half-nothing), manual transmission (Senna would drive with 1 hand on the wheel a good chunk of the time), no electronic driving aids...pure driving. I've watched documentaries where he would make the car 'dance' in the rain and destroy everyone on the track.
One commentator described his cornering technique - Senna would flick the wheel in the direction of the corner before turning into the bend - allowing him to get the tightest possible racing line, so he would brake less than other drivers.
His famous heel-and-toe technique:
By some quirk of history, Americans got into Baseball and Gridiron instead.
They're both fine sports so it's all good; but we all have a chuckle when you have a 'world series'.
Check out Top Gear s18e02 (edit: now I see you're British, so you probably have watched it). Not that I'm convinced or will watch Nascar, but how they pictured it in the show was hell damn exciting.
> F1 suddenly got a lot more coverage in the UK when we had a couple of drivers
Imagine what was going on here when Kubica appeared.
However, it is frankly ridiculous in many ways and it's very easy to pick on the fact it's beloved by red necks and so on.
In the "sports I didn't watch" category I never expected motorcycle racing would be more exciting than F1. I've never shared an interest in bikes and I don't know most of the names except Rossi and Pedroza, but once got into watching a MotoGP race and wow, there is action!
Superbikes is one of the reasons why I don't watch the F1 as much, it's far more entertaining, the drivers seem to be a lot more humble, and rules aren't constantly being monkeyed.
Yeah, the rules mess is one of the reasons I kind of lost interest in F1 (the major ones were BMW dropping out and later the Kubica hiatus).
Only Brazil, Canada and Austin are in the "prime time" US timezones.
I played soccer (shouldn't he have said football?) when I was younger and I'm fine with the metric system (the real question is why they taught it in elementary schools starting in the '70s, but didn't bother switching).
I think there are a lot of people in the US like me, but we don't spend enough money to get sponsor/advertiser attention. When was the last time you saw F1 tee-shirts, or F1 drivers on beer cans? Which events are offered is all about the almighty dollar.
Maybe of interest:
In fact, we have multiple: 'football' here can refer to rugby league in QLD and NSW, AFL in pretty much every other state (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barassi_Line ), or soccer.
(At least, that's what I've noticed.)
Yet if you say "football" in Ireland, it is assumed you mean soccer.
at the end of the day, one-directional media consumption (almost anywhere) is driven by maximising ad dollar expenditure. we just need for the Formula One Group to make the same sales effort in the US as they've done in asia. since the sales push in asia (during the past 3 years) a whole bunch of new asian sponsors/cars/drivers have joined F1. i guess it's a matter of time.
Soccer it top 5 in the USA in most played for both men and women
> and driving a French car (Renault).
Don't tell Red Bull that their car is French
> Americans are too fond of their ovals
Both NASCAR and Indy race on regular racing circuits. The majority of the Indy season this year, 10 of 15 races, is on regular circuits.
> a 120,000-person capacity track. But, said Weaver, a large part of that audience was from Mexico, Latin America, and South America.
Ridiculous and unsubstantiated. I know a large number of US based fans who went to the race. It averaged 2.2M viewers in the USA.
This article is furthering poor generalizations from both sides of the Atlantic about the various sports.
For a better and more accurate take on F1 in the USA see The Economist:
> "Don't tell Red Bull that their car is French"
It's not. They use Renault engines but the car is built in Milton Keynes, England by the team.
> "Ridiculous and unsubstantiated"
I'm not sure it's been confirmed but it was talked about that 40% of the tickets to the Austin GP were bought by Mexicans.
This article was nothing more than stereotypical Euro-bullying. I mean, "like soccer and the metric system" -- do Europeans really have to list every way they're superior every time the subject comes up? Come on.
Now, their attitude doesn't justify yours. We are all equals, or at least that's the theory.
Before I knew it, I was just lost.
The reality is that the Venn diagram of people who shop and Wal*Mart and people who watch NASCAR is probably closer to a circle than a lot of people are comfortable with.
As for the article, it's an article about racing, not sure why they mentioned football or the metric system at all, but to mention it in the context they have, they should've called it by it's proper name "Football" and then perhaps added "Soccer" in brackets.
Either turn it on for websites you want to read properly, or just accept the fact that it's 2013 and the vast majority of websites use it.
There's really no reason at all to obfuscate text based information in such way unless you want to display ads or track the user. It even shows the actual article behind the loading screen but you can't read the article itself since the loading never finishes. That's just bad design.
(note: the text data is fine, it's actually only broken on modern browsers which actually handle js)
What I don't get is how a racing sport derived from bootleggers outrunning police on back country roads turned into driving around an oval track.
The only sports that do well in America are the ones with a powerful league that can control all the TV rights and make the necessary deals with TV networks.