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And Then You Have your Nascar Rivalries

March 25th, 2013 · No Comments · monkey, Motor racing

I spent some time in yesterday’s post considering what is sure to be a chasm on the two-car Red Bull Racing team, now that Sebastian Vettel passed Mark Webber late in the Malaysian Grand Prix — against team orders — to win the race.

People will be talking about this for months. For years.

Nascar? A much different beast. Not long ago, they would climb out of their cars and brawl on the track. (The most famous was between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison in 1979, as can be seen on this video clip.)

Now? They just wreck each other, as Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin did at Fontana on Sunday.

Why are the Nascar guys more aggressive, seemingly, than the F1 guys?

It is not because the F1 guys are effete, latte-sipping Euros of the sort so brilliantly played by Sacha Baron Cohen (as fancy Frenchman Jean Girard) in the 2006 Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights.

The explanation is the obvious one: When open-wheel racing machines — like F1 vehicles — come into contact with each other, the results often are catastrophic. Even wheel-to-wheel contact will send someone flying.

Nascar’s sedan-type cars are more forgiving. Lots and lots of “rubbing” (as the drivers call it) goes on, and with tires safely inside wheel wells, touching/banging doesn’t necessarily launch someone into the catch fence.

And of late, a lot of the rubbing has involved Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, who went at each other so hard today that they appeared to be coming at each other “like a spider monkey”. (Talladega homage.)

They were so busy banging at Fontana, in the final turn, running for first and second, that Kyle Busch slipped past the two of them and won — and the other two eventually wrecked, with Logano hitting the outside wall and settling for third, and Hamelin crashing into the inner wall with a lot of force, and suffering a broken back and failing to finish.

Damage, sure. But no fatalities. Open-wheel partisans may derisively call Nascar vehicles “taxi cabs” but those cars can take a lot abuse. And goodness knows they give and get it.

Afterward, Tony Stewart, an old-school hot head, went after Logano, perhaps striking him twice, because he thought he had gone too far in blocking him on a restart. Stewart called him “a little rich kid that’s never had to work in his life” … as opposed to the blue-collar guys who dominate the field.

F1 versus Nascar reflects, perhaps, the cultures from which they spring.

F1 is still dominated by European drivers and teams, and in that continent, especially among the refined folks who decorate the sport, vicious words and hard stares are enough.

The good ol’ boys of Nascar are more likely to get physical — in their cars, and outside of them, too.

Anyway, a compelling weekend of motor racing, in terms of fussing and feuding — with words and glares on this side of the Atlantic, with threats of violence and destroyed cars on that side.


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