The global reach of television has given motor racing enthusiasts a chance to look at both the traditional European-based Formula One competition in addition to the Indy series long common in the united states. Formula One racing has always been on tracks that include most of the characteristics of ordinary motor roads, especially tight bends and moderate inclines, whereas Indy racing was for several years confined to special race tracks formed in an oval with banked curves at each end. Since 2005, however, Indy racing has included some events on road and street courses and these have come to predominate with only about one-third of races now happening on oval tracks. In this respect, both motor sports appear to have become more alike, but the comparison between Formula One and Indy racing around the oval track remains.
From a European perspective, sport in the united states in general seems to tend to the rapid and spectacular, whereas Europeans, the British especially, take more interest in longer slower competitions with intermittent action. The contrast is perhaps most stark when comparing baseball . So it appears to be with motor racing, with the oval track in the USA allowing continuous near all-out speed, and the tight curves and chicanes of Formula One bringing the cars almost to break, as, as an instance, in the Monaco Grand Prix event held yearly around the narrow streets of the principality.
Indy racing on the oval track certainly presents a special spectacle. The wide track enables several cars to race side-by-side and there is tons of opportunity for overtaking. With the drivers maintaining almost flat-out speed, the race depends basically on motor power. Everything looks very dangerous, and this no doubt is the essence of its appeal. Crashes, when they occur, often involve multiple vehicles and are sometimes horrendous. Fortunately, with modern security features, fatalities and serious injuries have been much reduced and this is an advance shared by Formula One.
Only at the beginning of the race can all of the cars be viewed together. For the rest of the race, the cars pass in and out of view in twos, threes and fours. Without a constant commentary it becomes impossible to know who’s winning, as passing cars are soon found to be on different laps of the race. And whereas on the oval track the race leader is nearly always in view, in Formula One the television cameras seem to ignore the top car and focus instead on closely fought battles for fourth place or ninth place in the hope of recording a rare overtaking. Formula One presents a harder challenge to television, a challenge shared by Indy on-street races. For people who want shear spectacle on TV there’s nothing to compare to the oval track.