I will start off with a disclaimer. Having been born in central Indiana, I grew up with IndyCar racing. I love IndyCar racing and the Indy 500 and I still prefer the oval tracks to the street circuits. There is not enough passing on the street circuits. While I think it’s nice that the Brickyard 400 has become a successful annual event, there are many aspects of NASCAR that I cannot stand. Here are a few:
Multiple mulligans — You can make numerous mistakes in a NASCAR race and still win it with all the mulligans they have built into the competition. One example is the Lucky Dog. With IndyCar racing, one mistake and you are either out of the race entirely or very unlikely to win.
Hit and run — A practice I detest in NASCAR is not severely penalizing drivers for blatant hit (bump) and runs, essentially shoving their competitor off the track. Not only is this dangerous, but in my book it is out and out cheating. Since IndyCar racing is open wheel, you don’t dare bump another car or else both of you will be toast. This promotes more intense, professional, and fair competition and leaves most of the payback factor out.
The element of danger — Two or more IndyCars running within inches of one another at 210+ mph is mind-blowing, heart-stopping, and totally exciting. If either driver as much as sneezes they will collide and go flying into the wall. NASCAR is more like kiddy bumper cars in comparison. This is not to say that NASCAR does not have its danger, but it has no comparison to the cutting edge of IndyCar racing. Two examples are below:
Lack of innovation — Both racing circuits have been somewhat guilty of this for the past decade, but IndyCar is making major strides to move forward with stunning and fascinating new car designs. Watch a NASCAR race and aside from the ridiculous amount of advertising on the cars, you have no idea what anyone is driving.
Over the years, IndyCar racing has brought us rear-view mirrors, safety-foam barriers, mandatory use of helmets by drivers and crews, roll bars, fire-retardant racing suits, and magnetic inspection of key safety parts. In addition, all IndyCars run on 100% ethanol and have for a number of years. NASCAR cannot even come close to making that claim.
Here is a weblink to images of the five new seriously cool IndyCar chassis designs that will be used starting in the 2012 racing season. They will come from BAT Engineering, Dallara Automobili, DeltaWing Racing, Lola Group, and Swift Engineering. Based on the images, my favorite is the BAT design.
Lack of diversity — While NASCAR has token representation from other countries and cultures, they are most often stolen from IndyCar racing where they first started in competition. NASCAR comes across as just a good-old boy organization that is only interested in white, male participants. This factor bothers me more than any other aspect.
In 2010 IndyCar had five women who participated in the sport, three of who were very competitive. IndyCar drivers came from England, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland, Canada, Scotland, Japan, etc. However, both need to work on improving participation by African-Americans.
International sport — IndyCar racing has taken place in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Japan. NASCAR takes place in the United States, except for one Nationwide Series race in Montreal.
UPDATE: Trevor Bayne won his first Daytona 500 at 20 years of age and in only his second Sprint Cup Race. Gotta admit the last 20 laps (all I watched) were interesting.