Open-wheel racing thrills at Brickyard, NASCAR a snoozefest
Nothing in motor sports was more exciting and terrifying than the start 30 years ago of the Indianapolis 500.
|The IndyCars pack them in at Indy, but the wallowing taxicabs of NASCAR do not|
That was before the track’s racing line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was narrowed and officials began warning drivers not to charge to the green flag and into Turn 1, preferring a safe, clean beginning to “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
I certainly pine for the days of A.J. Foyt battling the Indy 500 out with Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, Al and Bobby Unser and a new kid on the block named Rick Mears. And the blinding speed later of Arie Luyendyk, who blazed to a record lap of 237.498 m.p.h. at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1996.
CART, Champ Car, IndyCar — whatever you prefer — open-wheel racing at IMS was and is, in my opinion, still king.
NASCAR — well, not so much.
Sunday’s Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard will be a yawner compared with May’s Indy 500, which was won by Tony Kanaan in one of the most emotional and stirring victories on the 2.5-mile oval.
I’m sorry, but big, heavy stock cars just don’t race well at Indy, any way you cut it. Fuel mileage races, as we’ve seen at IMS in recent years, aren’t exactly electrifying.
Unlike wide-open Michigan International Speedway, it’s also hard for Sprint Cup cars to do much passing on the relatively flat turns at Indy. The racing groove is narrow and passing tough.
I know Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who each have won four times at IMS, would disagree with me and say kissing The Yard of Bricks is as fulfilling after climbing from a Sprint Cup car as it is an Indy Car.
For them that’s probably right.
For fans, I’m not so sure.
The first Cup race at Indy was in 1994; the inaugural Indy 500 in 1911. Much went on in between: the Golden Years in 1911-29 of Ray Harroun, Gaston Chevrolet, Tommy Milton, Pete DePaolo and Louis Meyer; and then the Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose and Ted Horn era of the ‘30s and ‘40s; and into roadsters and rear-engine days of the ‘50s and ‘60s with Johnnie Parsons, Bill Vukovich, Jimmy Bryan, Rodger Ward, Foyt, Parnelli Jones and Jim Clark.
Indy is my favorite racetrack, and the 500 my favorite sporting event.
Sunday’s Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard could spring some surprises, but I prefer my NASCAR racing be done at Daytona, Talladega, Bristol and MIS.
I’m just an old stick in the mud. Indy Star/Detroit Free Press