Monday, February 07, 2005

Formula for Karthikeyan' success

Yeah, F1… It’s good news that Narain Karthikeyan is going to be driving a Jordan (or whatever it will be called this year, after a change of management). Coming as it did, when one least expected it, it is creditable that the 28 year old has held on to his dream. In fact it seems that he has had a quiet couple of years, with the younger Karun Chandok doing much of the dare devil driving under the Indian flag. It has been said that Karthikeyan, “on his day”, has beaten the likes of Takuma Sato. But he will need more of “his days” to first avoid the typical first corner pile up at most circuits and even more to finish.

Will this news mean an entry of Jordan replica apparel into the Indian market and a spurt in similar sales here in the US? I would bet my money on such a trend, having seen the extent to which the average desi visitor to the 2003 Indianapolis Grand Prix had adopted the Tifosi colors as his or her own. But I do hope this observation about the desi fans of the regarding the Dark Lord’s progeny will be proved wrong. The presence of an Indian driver should hopefully change this status quo. But I think that the average Indian always places bets on a runaway winner and that too only after having analyzed its prospects to the maximum. So you find a lot of Indians rooting for the Australians, sometimes even going against India in the process. But this Karthikeyan issue is a novelty, much like an Indian presence in the finals of an event in the Olympics and so every Indian eye is going to be positively turned on the Jordan team. So this might actually separate the real Tifosi from the million other pretenders who were in for the free ride. I am rubbing my hands in glee and looking forward to this particular prospect. As for me, my black baseball cap with “West” emblazoned on it is always going to be on, through thick or thin. However I will be keenly following Karthikeyan’s drive and will be rooting for him, albeit as an individual driver.

During a week when F1 has been in the news in India, I caught one of Fox’s NFL commentators touting the “Fastest race in the world, the Daytona 500”. By the way, the Daytona 500 is a 500 lap stock car race, the first race of the year in the NASCARchampionship. With average speeds in Formula 1 is higher by atleast 25 mph (and top speeds going to be separated with much more, because most of the Nascar tracks are ovals), I cannot imagine a statement as short sighted as this from one of the commentators on ESPN STAR. John Dykes, Chris Goodwin and the rest are the best.

13 comments:

hemanth said...

Jordon's trying out the Toyota this year. Are we going to see a Qualis with a Narain Edition ;)

Anonymous said...

Actullly, the speed of the Daytona 500 would be higher if it were not for the blasted restrictor plates, as Daytona is a very fast superspeedway.

Besides, the NASCAR engines are able to go 500 miles, while being able to hit 190+ each lap. I do not think that the wonderful little uber-expensive F1 engines could go that long that fast.

Anyway, it is great see a brown guy in F1! Hope he does well. :D

anantha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anantha said...

@ Hemanth: Jordan and Toyota? I missed that part of the news. Seems that I have a lot to catch up with as far as F1 is concerned. DC in a Red Bull!

@ Anon: True that the restrictor plates do slow down the cars, IMHO, but unless u are in the NHRA, top speed and acceleration is not everything. Sure, the "uber-expensive F1 engines" would not go that long, but dont you think the frequent gear shifts and frequent change in revs play a role in this? I consider it funny that America chooses to relatively ignore F1 while celebrating a race series whose engine technology seems to be 60s vintage. But my main grouse with with the NASCAR series is the tracks and ergo the concept itself, for, after watching the rest of the world go ga-ga over rallying and road racing (not to mention the recent spurt in drifting), I cant bear to watch 43 cars go round and round in an oval. I find the first lap of a Formula 1 race at Indy much more rivetting than the 500 laps on race day at Daytona combined with qualifying the previous day. And after watching coverage of the SCCA races in circuits such as Mid Ohio, I feel that corporate America will be better off with promoting the SCCA series as the true representation of American gearhead culture.
Btw, Anon.. u seem much more knowledgable about NASCAR than my average reader (and me) and you seem to be a white guy (just getting back at you for the "brown guy part, lol, no offense meant). But could we have some intros..?

dev2r said...

I'm no F1 fanatic, but I was pretty pissed at the 'fastest race in the world' comment. My eyes have been opened now... 8-)

anantha said...

Dev.. enna sollar vara ;) lol

hemanth said...

aNTi, you have a point there. Consider the number of Gear shifts involved at the Interlagos track, Brazil (http://www.f1express.com/interlagos.shtml). F1 tracks a very carefully punctuated with turns to bring down the speed and test the Driver's(and the Car's) reflexes. At times these guys have to scale down from 290+ mph to 60 mph, plus handle the G-force at every bend. It's more about manouverability, less about number of laps on a "straight" strip.

Anonymous said...

Even I caught the 'Fastest race in the world' comment during the superbowl. 'What about F1?' was the first thought that occured to me.

Whether Nascar speeds are faster than F1 speeds, that point is debatable. But it is certainly true that Nascar is more dangerous than F1.

F1 track designers have to follow certain safety regulations very strictly, especially because of the high speeds involved.

But the american racetracks(except the Indy F1) are all one big oval. The drivers go round and round at insanely high speeds.

M.Schumacher was once asked if he would ever consider racing at the Indy 500. This is what he had to say:

“The speed you do, that close to the walls, if you have an accident, there is no way a chassis can survive a certain way of having a crash,” he explains. “And that means your legs gonna be heavily damaged, or even further. And I don't see any point in that. I have nothing to prove there. I don't see a challenge in it.”

anantha said...

@ Hemanth : Thats what i was saying. Other than aerodynamics, which is huge in Nascar, tech value is zilch...Most tech advances in cars (American or otherwise) have come not from oval racing, but from road racing in circuits like Le Mans and Nurburgring. I know that GM and Chrysler have a number of factory supported teams in the ALM series, why is there no corporate interest in America for road racing, I mean open wheel racing?

@ Anon: Safety issues at the tracks are not something that trouble me, mainly because the most dangerous areas in the ovals (the turns basically) do have crumple zones to absorb impacts. Remember Ralf's crash at Indy last year? He missed the the protected zone by a feet or so. And they said he'd have walked off by himself if he had hit the wall a few feet before the point of impact. And I also know that some drivers have walked away from Nascar crashes (though I am not knowledgable enough to give you names). I think safety issues have been taken seriously after Earnhart Sr.'s death in 2001 at Daytona. And, IMHO, driver safety is more of a concern these days in the ovals only when the racing is in open wheel machines, like CART or IndyCar. So if Schumi thinks its stupid driving a open wheeled machine at the Indy oval, I perfectly agree.

OmPrakash said...

Anti,

I guess its about time the McLaren team performs well what with Montoya joining the team (and DC finally getting kicked out). I've always disliked the candy-red car and its driver. But as you say, this time its gonna be a new experience with Narain in the run. I dont expect him to perform too well (face it guys, he is gonna drive a Jordan!), but of course I will be closely watching his performance. You never know which team will pick him up if he performs well...

The obsession with the candy-red-car seems to be true of a typical American F1 fan too. Though there are no official teams or drivers from USA, people here are crazy about the candy red than about anything else. I was at Indy F1 a couple of years back and the whole racetrack seemed to be red. I was the only one(in my stand) with a black Mercedes t-shirt. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought that the people were giving me weird looks wherever I went...

anantha said...

Luckily, when I was there in 2003, I had a couple of Brit McLaren fans (2 hot ladies incl.) who I joined right opposite the podium to give the finger everytime a red colored car shot by us and also during the prize ceremony.

TOL said...

As someone who is a Schumacher fan from his pre ferrari days, I should tell you, I definetly dont support Australia;) Everyone who likes Tendulkar dont do so to be part of the winning crowd.

anantha said...

TOL, exceptions are everywhere. And I was refering only to a certain strata of sportsfans who watch sports just cause they'd be looked at strangely by ppl around them if they dont...So the easiest team/sportsman to support is the one which has the greatest profile and the greatest presence in the media...