Oval racing series like NASCAR, Indy 500 or DIRTCar are pretty famous in the USA. However, European racing fans often don’t get a true grasp on oval racing.
Many just perceive oval racing as constantly having the foot on the gas and steering left. But as the video above shows: there’s much more to it than that.
More than meets the (European) eye
Pit stops, for example, become really tactical in oval races, especially in NASCAR. Drivers often try to calculate the possibility of a yellow flag (safety car period) to then take their pit stop and refuel. If a race is very clean and accident-free, it is not uncommon for drivers have to hit their fuel limit, putting their nerves of steel to the test. True oval racing fans also sweat along with the driver in those situations.
In addition, oval tracks are shorter than most other circuits, so every centimeter of the track is often packed with cars. The density of traffic often means that teams with faster cars can’t make use of thier engineering advantage. It is much harder to predict the race winner than in other racing series as a result.
Finally, it is the rough and dangerous driving style which attracts oval racing fans. While tiny nuances in the steepness and angle of the turns can have a heavy impact on the cars, it is very hard to properly react to a crash that occurs only ten meters further on. The thrill and suspense that comes with this danger is a point that F1 fans sometimes miss, but it is an inherent part of oval races.
So if you’ve never experienced it, give it a shot! You might even end up having fun.