When it comes to the bitter war between NASCAR and Formula 1 for fans it’s impossible to convince either party to concede defeat. You’re either NASCAR or F1, very rarely will you find a middle ground. There is no mystery why the two sports clash heads. In short, they represent two ends of the same spectrum in motorsport.
On one hand is the most American of American sports: NASCAR. Brimming with explosive power from start to finish, NASCAR is a collision course jam-packed with entertainment. Approaching speeds of 217 mph, a NASCAR driver’s battle is akin to Mad Max battling through Fury Road, traveling high octane across heavy piles of fast flying metal.
Contrast this with the neat and tidy world of F1. From their pampered yachts in Monaco to playing politics during contrived media conferences, formula one drivers look as though they would rather spend their time shooting cologne commercials than engage in an actual race.
Chances are if you’ve seen the first 30 seconds of an F1 Grand Prix, you’ve seen the best part. Nine times out of ten, the front runner will storm to victory on the back of a new set of rules and guidelines that change season in, season out. NASCAR delivers for those that love an underdog, and who doesn’t love an underdog?
However, NASCAR detractors have a decent case to argue. The drivers turn in the same direction for hours on end, the fans are loud and a little on the simple side, and there is not a lot of subtly or mystique about the racers or the race. But does any of that actually matter? Motorsport is about entertainment and NASCAR deliveries on that front hands down.
Time to shake and bake! Here are 10 reasons why NASCAR is better than F1.
Let’s set the scene – Sprint Cup Series, Daytona 1974 Firecracker 400. David Pearson is cruising in front of Richard Petty until he suddenly falls back, seemingly giving Petty an unassailable lead. Approaching the final turn, Pearson’s No. 21 ride comes back to life to launch past Petty off Turn 4 to take checkered. If this wasn’t dramatic enough, Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough crossed at the exact same time to tie for third. Add to this a string of thrilling results from Sonoma 1991, Bristol 1994, Daytona 2005 and a host of other tight contests and there is no comparison.
9 F1 Burdened by Rules
How bad are the rules in formula one? Just ask F1 drivers themselves. Legendary racer Michael Andretti who rose to fame with McLaren in 1993 gave a blunt assessment to Top Gear. “It’s a mess right now. They made a mistake allowing engineers to come up with all the rules.”
Even current champion Lewis Hamilton can’t hold back his dismay, telling the British press that clamping down on starting procedures ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix will make starts to the race more convoluted than they already are. NASCAR thankfully doesn’t have to deal with these issues.
8 Bigger Crashes and Collisions
From Talladega to Daytona, any second one innocuous bump can lead to a car spinning out of control in a smoking haze, forcing drivers to use their instincts just to stay alive. Winning a NASCAR race is a bonus, coming out of the death trap in one piece is the main goal for these adrenaline junkies.
The danger can be the greatest appeal. Sometimes the consequences of cars launching into the air and into the crowd are fatal and simply horrifying to watch, but the fans keep coming back in droves. F1’s collisions are far more infrequent.
7 NASCAR Stock Cars Look Like Real Cars
The science and engineering behind formula one vehicles is nothing short of remarkable. From the slique design to the KERS and everything in between, an F1 car is a stunning piece of work. But it’s a little too good. How can anyone relate to it? While a stock car has a lot more under the hood than your average streetcar could dream about, the aesthetic style of the Chevy, Ford and Toyota is not far off.
Having been criticized in some quarters for moving away from their simplicity, fans were raving about the new NASCAR designs in the lead up to Charlotte 2013 Sprint Cup. “They look like real cars, more of an original stock,” said one fan. “They’re beautiful, it looks like a real car,” confirmed another. This is a relatability F1 will always miss out on.
6 Fan Appreciation Day
Sure, F1 has a “fan appreciation day”, so long as you have a VIP pass and millions of dollars paid up front. Let’s be honest, NASCAR is a sport that champions the working class. Anyone can dream of becoming a NASCAR driver and the industry knows it.
NASCAR fans get to be up close and personal with their heroes. The annual event allows anyone to enjoy a full day of activities from Q&A sessions to autographs with drivers and special Hall of Fame inductions.
5 Team Harmony
Sweet 16 parties on MTV are carried out with more decorum than inside an F1 team. Competing to be top dog on the track is an afterthought because fighting tooth and nail for top billing with your teammate is so often the main challenge. Friction between self-obsessed egos is part of the formula one brand.
Of course NASCAR is not immune to wage disparities, the best in any business has to be remunerated accordingly. But with a base salary ranging from $500,000 to $10 million annually, NASCAR look after their own across the board far better than their F1 peers.
4 F1 is Elitist
F1 racers compete to fund a lifestyle of the rich and famous. NASCAR racers are in it for the love of the sport, risking their lives every time they step inside the rocket on wheels. F1 is held hostage to the whims of eccentric British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, which shows exactly how out of touch the sport is to the common fan.
Whether it’s dating pop stars, Kardashians or buying the latest gadgets and luxury motor vehicles, formula one competitors continue to firm their status as the elitists of the racing world.
3 More Female Trailblazers
These women are trailblazers in every sense of the word. From superstars like Danica Patrick to Sara Christian, NASCAR has a greater history of breaking down the gender barrier. Janet Guthrie’s remarkable top ten finish in the Michigan 1977 Sprint Cup Series was only the start of things to come. Compare this to F1 where Susie Wolff’s foray into practice sessions shows no indication that the gap will be closed anytime soon. Bernie Ecclestone’s take on female racing is that it should be packaged as its own sport, not to include women but to separate them. For a sport that often gets criticized for not being inclusive enough, NASCAR is one of the only sports in the world where women are allowed to not only participate, but compete against their male counterparts.
2 NASCAR Raced in a Coliseum
The saying often goes F1 is a sprint while NASCAR is a marathon. If a greater test of endurance across a 6-hour race wasn’t enough of a draw card to pull fans across to the other side, the sheer ferocity and proximity of a crowd surrounding the track like a pulsating prehistoric bullring should be cause enough.
Formula one fans positioned on the grandstand are well placed to see the contest sprint into gear, but they’re usually left wondering what on earth is going on as they pass the bend. NASCAR’s condensed arena is the perfect template to view a battle on wheels.
1 Sexier Product
What makes something sexy? They know what they got and they flaunt it! NASCAR rocks its assets better than anything on the planet. Sexy cheerleaders, fireworks, bright lights, country western, caravan barbecues, American flags, burning rubber and big, loud cars. It is the United States in a nutshell. The sport is dripping in sex appeal and is perfectly comfortable in its own skin.
Turn the television over to the German or Dubai Grand Prix for poor old F1. Vast landscapes of sand and grass belies a motorsport that clings to a few dramatic moments across a season. Formula one is desperate to stay relevant. A few popped champagne bottles delivered by a beauty queen can’t disguise the fact NASCAR is a sexier product.