I can tell that some of you monkeys aren’t up to speed on the international mechanized bourgeoi-leisure passion that is Formula One Racing (hereinafter “F1”). Now is as good a time as any for us to move a bit further up the learning curve, so that we all might better comprehend and perhaps even join in on the JR/Bif F1 discussions that occasionally flare up, especially with the 2009 season soon to begin on March 29th in Melbourne.
First of all, we have to understand what F1 is not, namely, NASCAR. Race series such as Sprint Cup that are sanctioned by National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) are run predominantly on oval tracks, hence, the cliché “drive fast and turn left”. Not to get overly hung up on class issues so early in the discussion, but it might at this point be noted that some significant contingent amongst America’s NASCAR fans proudly refers to itself, or rather its members, as “rednecks”. Perhaps there is some similar subculture that self-promulgates throughout the F1 fan base, but I will leave it to others, such as JR, to elaborate on the social and other implications of being a serious F1 fan. Also, I want someone to talk about the people who follow the F1 series throughout the world, by that I mean actually attending all or at least most of the races in a given season. (This would probably make for some fantastic reality television, if it isn’t already being done.)
As is often the case, a good place to start is the Formula One wikipedia entry, as well as The Official Formula One Website. But for now (and anyone can argue with me on this point if they want to), it is important to appreciate that F1 wants to be perceived as being the premier racing series in the world, i.e., the one that brings together the very best drivers and technology to compete in a precisely regulated event where glamour, international jet-setting, and/or a substantially even playing field can be relied upon and are consistently delivered. What else (other than money and groupies), would compel owners, drivers, pit crews, mechanics, and transportation and other support personnel to travel across multiple continents with multimillion dollar race cars, a giant bin of spare engines and other parts, and an extremely large number of Bridgestone tyres?
Before (or maybe after) I cover the key personalities and highlights of F1 history in a subsequent post, Bif is going to discuss the evolution of F1 technology (engines, suspensions, electronics, tyres, etc.) and how their development has been influenced by F1 regulations and politics and vice versa.
(To be continued…)