Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 15, 2009

A Voice of Experience

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:33 pm

Dariodario Franchitti wrote a column on Speed TV’s web site the other day. He made a lot of very interesting comparisons between NASCAR and Indy Racing. I am surprised at the lack of banter among fans.


I have not seen too much commentary from ‘stock’ car enthusiasts who have taken to bragging lately, F-1 style, about how much better they believe NASCAR as a whole is than anything else. I have oft maintained a couple of things when comparing my beloved Indy Cars with the slower, heavier ‘stock’ cars:



1.   It is a lot slower.

2.   It does not take as much athleticism.


This is not in any way to denigrate NASCAR drivers or teams; it is more difficult than most can imagine to wrestle an ill handling three bedroom house on wheels (according to Johnny Rutherford) of a ‘stock’ car around a poorly paved track for 500 miles. But as Dario stated (from experience) “I think you can do a good job in NASCAR without paying much attention to fitness routines and working out. You’re in the car every weekend and the races are so bloody long, it really gives you what you need as far as building up a tolerance.”

Evidently, you have to be in peak physical shape to be able to handle the demands in open wheel.  “In IndyCar, the races are shorter but the demands of the body are five times as demanding, I’d say the way I’ve always looked at it, there’s times I haven’t been, whether it’s through an accident or recovering from an accident, when I haven’t been in the type of shape I needed to be, then I felt I couldn’t drive the car to its full potential unless I was on top of my fitness game. And that’s the difference for me. Indy Car racing requires you to be at your peak to perform, and nothing less. The G loadings are massive, there’s massive downforce to deal with, and you use your entire body to wrestle the cars. It’s a completely different level of fitness.”

Peak fitness is not confined to physical stamina. As Franchitti says, “One of my greatest challenges in adapting to NASCAR was my mind was still trying to work at one and a half times the speed that the car was capable of. That’s what I was used to after a decade of driving in cart and the IRL. An Indycar never does anything slow; even on a street course, the acceleration and directional changes happen in a flash at every corner. Your mind gets accustomed to always being on fast-forward, and I had to slow all that down.”

“By the time things unraveled with my Cup deal, I was actually starting to get there – I’d slowed things down accordingly. When I got back in an IndyCar car both on the road course and on the oval at Homestead last month, it was like someone had switched on the fast-forward button again and I had to get my brain back up to that speed. And so in that case, I was needing to ramp my mind back up again.”  

Dario brought up some great points and marveled at those who in past years easily moved from one discipline to another. One of my favorite periods of Indy Racing occurred in the late 60s and early 70s when it was common to see both NASCAR and F-1 stars on the same track with the Indy Racing drivers of the day.


Now that Indy racing stars have tried NASCAR in this era, would it not be great to see NASCAR stars see what they could do in an Indy Car today?


1 Comment »

  1. I’m glad you pointed this out Defender. Stock cars are so slow that drivers have to slow their brain down. Also, you can be an out of shape fat arse and still drive them. I think these are important points and glad you steered us towards them.

    Comment by Typical cart fan — March 16, 2009 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

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