Faster in Circles and With Turns

At a young age I started building model airplanes and then model cars and, for a while, it was probably my main hobby as it gives the satisfaction of making something without having to put in much strenuous effort. Oddly, that interest in model cars didn’t translate to an interest in cars. Although I can see how it would be useful to know more about how cars work, I’ve never been particularly interested in pulling cars apart and putting them back together the way some of my friends have.

Cars to me are simply forms of transportation that are either cool or uncool. Discussion of parts and internals is as interesting to me as hearing Salma Hayek describe her liver and gall bladder. (Actually, for Salma Hayek, I might actually put up with that and feign interest.)

I bring this up because I just watch Senna, a documentary about Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna and this has me thinking about racing and cars. I grew up watching NASCAR and Indy Car and am one of the few people in Japan who managed to convert an Englishman into enjoying NASCAR. I’m also one of the few Americans I know who enjoys Formula 1 and Super GT and understands the differences:

NASCAR–Good Ol’ Boys playing really fast chess.
Indy Car–Good Ol’ Boys with delusions of grandeur.
Super GT–Japanese Good Ol’ Boys driving almost real cars under too many equality rules.
F1–Pompous Europeans (mostly) driving turbo-charged (this season anyway) computers.

They all have their flaws and I admit that I’m partial to races that feature more than left turns. With NASCAR that means Watkins Glen and Sonoma (although I’m also partial to Pocono Raceway which has three corners and each is a different size and angle). That said, it is impressive to see a dozen cars squeezed together at 220 miles per hour (354 kmh) on an oval track.

I find Formula 1 to be too computerized and shrieky a lot of the time, and that’s just the drivers, but I still enjoy watching it.

My favorite, right now, is Super GT, mostly because that’s all Japanese TV tends to show. I also like that the two different flavors (GT300 and GT500) race at the same time on the same track in different races. It’s common to hear GT300 drivers comment about how fast and cool the GT500 cars are during the race. I do find the parity rules, which punish race winners with “success ballast” to ensure exciting racing, to be a bit annoying, but seeing one team dominate Formula 1 all season is also annoying.

Someday I’d like to go to a race but, quite frankly, I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much. It’s a TV sport for me. Something to look at, kind of like the model cars I used to build.

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