Tuesday, September 1, 2009

fast is fast

Returned to the Orange County Speedway on Saturday night. Not to race, but to watch racing. Not to watch bicycle racing, but to watch automobile racing.

We witnessed a 13 year old kid beat a bunch of adults (i.e. licensed drivers) in a pretty tough race. In the winner's circle, he looked so tiny in his small little jumpsuit next to his giant car--more like a kid in red pajamas getting out of his car-shaped bed. He was barely as tall as the frayed cuff of Miss Rougemont's cut-off jeanshorts.

As a cyclist who sometimes races, it's tough to remind myself that the tactics are different in these races because the physics is different. Yes, cars are like people, because some are just faster than others. And, similar to a bike race on narrow roadways, it can be difficult to pass or move up through the pack at speed. But cars are not like people because they don't really get tired in a 20 or 100 lap race (except for the ones that catch on fire, I guess you could call that getting tired). Therefore, I saw cars lead the entire race and win. There just wasn't enough horespower and/or space to easily pass. I think that this fact would make car racing somewhat frustrating. At least in bike racing, every jackass (especially me) thinks they have a shot at winning, even when we know we're not the fastest person out there. There is that chance, through an ideal confluence of events that you can sneak away at the right time and the pack will bet wrong and will never be able to catch you. It's some complicated equation, that looks like

+ (timing^luck)
- organizational psycology
+ (weather/hills)
+ (length or race/miles driven to race)
+ (price of wheelset/price of car)
- (number of children)!
+ (bartape color/saddle color)
= probability of winning

Maybe I'm missing something but car racing seems to be more simpler:

fastest car
+ best starting postion
- crashes
= victory

I'm probably missing something.

It's no surprise that in North Carolina, a lot more people go out to watch car races than bike races. They even pay money to have this privilege. I guess it helps that you can see the whole race from the comfort of the bleachers. Also, it's byob. Also, dudes crash.

On the downside, it's louder than a chorus of Chris King hubs. Also, I probably cut a few weeks of my life by inhaling car fumes and burnt rubber. Well, that and I ate the funnel cakes.

I still think that this place would be perfect for a cyclocross race, complete with the Paris-Roubaix-style velodrome finish and screaming drunkards. We'll look into it.


felonious said...

Love the Vans in the first photo.

co2cycle said...

i meant to add a product-placement caption. in part so fans of Ali would know that he wasn't at the races and also that i am ripping off his style. also also, so Vans will get with BCC and give us free stuff.