Monday, May 30, 2011

The Triple Crown

Last Sunday was a big day for motor racing. The Indianapolis 500 celebrated it's 100th anniversary with an exciting if somewhat gut wrenching finish. The Monaco Grand Prix, Formula 1's most high profile and glamorous race was every bit as exciting as the Indy 500 with a great deal of on-the-edge-of-your-seat action. These two races are part of motor racing's triple crown, the other being the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will be held next weekend and will celebrate it's 79th running.

So how are the races different and how are they similar? The three races represent three different racing philosophies. Indy is about seeing sustained speed for a long period of time on an oval where spectators can see the entire race. Formula 1 and the Monaco GP test the limits of engineering on a true road course. Here drivers go as fast as possible through different types of turns but only do so for an hour and half. The 24 Hours of Le Mans has cars of different classes, some based on road cars while others are purpose built race cars, racing all at once for 24 hours to test the limits of endurance for man and machine alike. Yet there is one great difference between the two European races and the American race. Monaco and Le Mans are held on road courses. These are courses where the driver must turn left and right, through slow corners and fast corners alike.

This may seem like an obvious difference not worth mentioning but it absolutely must be understood. When average Americans think of racing they think of oval racing and are completely unaware that road racing exists. They don't even know what Formula 1 or Le Mans are, and that is the major obstacle that the Circuit of the Americas must overcome. This track needs to be the bastion for road racing in America. Every single racing series that races on road courses in America needs to have an established race at this track and yes, that includes NASCAR. People need to become aware of these racing series and learn to enjoy them. NASCAR fans need to become F1 fans as well as fans of other forms of racing. Without the success of road racing culture here in America the track, and F1, will never succeed in the long term.

So let's call on the Circuit of the Americas to host every motor racing event they can. Hosting a MotoGP race on top of the F1 race is a great start but it's just that – a start. Let's see a 24 hour American Le Mans Series race, Grand-Am, IRL, NASCAR, World GT and Touring Cars and even more motorcycle racing hosted at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tx.