The global reach of television has given motor racing fans a chance to view both the traditional European-based Formula One competition as well as the Indy series long popular in the USA. Formula One racing has always been on paths that include most of the features of normal motor streets, especially tight bends and moderate inclines, whereas Indy racing was for many years confined to special race tracks formed in an oval with banked curves at each end. Since 2005, however, Indy racing has included some events on street and road courses and these have come to predominate with only about one-third of races currently taking place on oval tracks. In this respect, both motor sports appear to have become more alike, but the contrast between Formula One and Indy racing on the oval track remains.
From a European standpoint, sport in the USA in general appears to tend to the rapid and spectacular, whereas Europeans, the British especially, take more interest in longer slower competitions with intermittent action. The contrast is perhaps most stark when comparing baseball . So it seems to be with motor racing, with the oval track in the united states allowing continuous near all-out speed, and the tight curves and chicanes of Formula One bringing the cars nearly to rest, as, for instance, in the Monaco Grand Prix event held annually around the narrow streets of the principality.
Indy racing on the oval track certainly presents a special spectacle. The wide track enables several cars to race side-by-side and there’s tons of opportunity for overtaking. With the drivers maintaining almost flat-rate rate, the race depends essentially on motor power. It all looks very dangerous, and this no doubt is the essence of its appeal. Crashes, when they happen, often involve a number of vehicles and are occasionally terrible. Fortunately, with modern safety features, fatalities and serious injuries are much reduced and this is an improvement shared by Formula One.
Formula One is not as visible to the spectator and the television viewer. Only at the start of the race can all of the cars be viewed together. Without a constant comment it’s impossible to know who is winning, as passing cars are soon found to be on different laps of the race. And whereas on the oval track the race leader is almost always in view, in Formula One of the television cameras seem to ignore the top car and focus instead on closely fought battles for fourth position or ninth place in the hope of recording a rare overtaking. Formula One presents a harder challenge to television, a challenge shared by Indy on-street races. For those who want shear spectacle on TV there is nothing to compare to the oval track.