A Tale of Two Motorsports: Comparing NASCAR and Formula One

February 24, 2011 by  
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Comparing NASCAR and F1 racing is a popular topic on the Internet. NASCAR is simple. All left turning in bulky, simple cars. F1 is complex. Left and right turning in sleek, technologically sophisticated cars. NASCAR is rough and tumble. Bumping and jostling add to the excitement. F1 is refined and elegant. Contact between cars spoils the precise aerodynamics and handling. As for the drivers, it is said that the best race in F1 and the rest race elsewhere. The comparisons by bloggers and racing analysts, no matter how erroneous, go on and on.

As shown in the table below, there are clear physical differences between the two motorsports. Less clear is whether there exists performance differences – that is, differences tied to the drivers’ and their teams’ performance – between the two sports. To address this question, we look back at the results from the 2009 NASCAR and F1 seasons.

Physical Differences: NASCAR and F1 Racing in 2009

Characteristic NASCAR F1
Number of Drivers 43 20
Number of Races 36 17
Design of Cars front-engine, “stock” car, heavy (3,300 lbs) mid-engine, open-wheel, light (1,322 lbs)
Technological Sophistication of Cars relatively simple mechanical engineering advanced electrical and mechanical engineering
Racing Tracks and Circuits oval-shaped speedways circuits and road courses
Width of Tracks and Circuits relatively wide, side-by-side racing is common relatively narrow, side-by-side racing is rare
Length of Tracks and Circuits relatively short (0.53 mi to 2.60 mi) relatively long (2.08 mi to 4.35 mi)
Location of Races 23 locations in USA 17 countries in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America
Turning all left turns 34 of 36 races left and right turning
Overtaking and Lead Changes relatively common relatively rare
Final Practice occurs after qualifying occurs before qualifying
Ability to race in wet weather cannot race in rain under any circumstances can race in rain with tires designed for this purpose

What is the relationship between a driver’s performance during the final practice before a race and his finish position?

Former NBA star Allen Iverson’s rant aside (“We’re not talking about the game, we’re talking about practice!”), coaches and sports psychologists say that athletes should practice like they play. The same is true for the 43 drivers who normally start a NASCAR race. An analysis of these drivers’ ranking in final practice and their finish positions throughout the 2009 season revealed statistically meaningful correlations or relationships between their practice performance and their finish positions in 81% of the races. The better someone performed in practice, the better his finish position. This was not the case for the 20 drivers who make up the starting field of an F1 grand prix. These drivers’ performances during final practice and their finish positions were related in only 41% of the grands prix. Interestingly, there was an even less reliable relationship between a driver’s practice performance and finish position if the results from only the top 20 points-leading NASCAR drivers before a race are considered. For these drivers, practice performance and finish position were related in only 22% of the races.

What is the relationship between a driver’s performance during qualifying (and thus his position at the start of a race) and his finish position?

“Qualifying is key” is a phrase that is heard often by drivers, crew chiefs, and racing analysts. The better a driver performs in qualifying, the closer to the front of the field he will start a race. For the 43-driver starting field of a NASCAR race, a statistically meaningful relationship between their performances in qualifying and their finish positions occurred in 75% of the races. For F1 drivers, the correlation between qualifying position and finish position was even stronger and occurred more often. But, for the top 20 points-leading drivers in NASCAR, a meaningful correlation between qualifying performance and finish position was uncommon.

What is the relationship between a driver’s points-standing (a measure of his performance in previous races) and his finish position?

Historians remind us often that the past is the best predictor of the future. This appears to be true for the 43 drivers who start NASCAR races. The higher a driver’s position in the points standings, the better his finish position. In contrast, a statistically meaningful correlation between F1 drivers’ performance in previous grands prix and their finish positions occurred much less often, and even less often for the top 20 points-leaders in NASCAR.

What is a more reliable predictor of a driver’s finish position: His performance during a practice, his performance during qualifying, his overall success prior to a race or a combination of these variables?

Overall, the best predictor of a NASCAR driver’s finish position was his points-standing. For F1 drivers, the best predictor of their finish position was their performance during qualifying and thus their position at the start of a grand prix. For the top 20 points-leaders in NASCAR, there were no reliable predictors across the races held in 2009.

Based on the analyses of the 2009 NASCAR and F1 racing seasons, we can now build a new table that summarizes performance differences in these two motorsports. Surprising, perhaps, is that the most noticeable differences were not between NASCAR and F1 drivers, but between the best NASCAR drivers and everyone else.

Performance Differences: NASCAR and F1 in 2009

Characteristic NASCAR F1 NASCAR (Top 20)
Finish position generally correlated with practice performance Yes, 81% of races No, 41% of grands prix No, 22% of races
Finish position generally correlated with qualifying performance/starting position Yes, 75% of races Yes, 82% of grands prix No, 28% of races
Finish position generally correlated with overall success in season Yes, 86% of races Somewhat, 59% of grands prix No, 19% of races
Best overall predictor(s) of finish position Points-standing before a race Qualifying performance (starting position) None of the performance variables studied

Article written by Kathleen Silva and Francisco Silva

Racing Accessories

July 20, 2009 by  
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Ferrari

February 9, 2009 by  
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When we hear the name Ferrari, we immediately picture legendary drivers such as Niki Lauda, John Surtees, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher. However, there is more to Ferrari, than a successful racing team. When Enzo Ferrari established Scuderia Ferrari in 1929, he did not do so with road vehicles in mind. He wanted to be part of the racing world and by 1938, Enzo Ferrari headed up the Alfa Romeo racing department. During the war, Alfa Romeo became absorbed by the government in their war efforts, and the little division run by Enzo Ferrari passed by unnoticed. He was not permitted to participate in racing for a period of four years, but he nevertheless built the Tipo 815. In 1943 Enzo Ferrari moved his operations to Maranello, where it still remains today. After the factory was bombed in 1944, it was rebuilt, and included a division for the production of road vehicles, even though this was just to generate the money needed to fund Enzo’s passion for racing. The name Scuderia Ferrari, means Ferrari Stable, but is translated, in a figurative form, to mean Team Ferrari.

The 125S, is the very first road vehicle that Ferrari produced in 1947. Enzo disliked the fact that he was producing vehicles that people bought for prestige and not for how the car performed, but his vehicles continues to grow in popularity, becoming famous for their style, excellence and speed. Today, the rich and the famous ensure that they add a Ferrari to their collection as a status symbol.

The world famous Ferrari emblem has been a source of speculation. All badges have a prancing black horse on a yellow background. The letters SF (Scuderia Ferrari) appear on either side of the horse, with the national colors of Italy (Green, white and red) appearing at the top of the logo.

To know the naming of the Ferrari vehicles, will definitely make you an expert. Until the 1990’s, car engines were named on engine displacement. For example, the V6 and V8 car models were total displacements. That would mean that a 206 would be a 2.0 L V6 and a 348 would be a 3.4 L V8. Displacement is measured in deciliters. On the V12’s displacement is measured in cubic centimeters, of one cylinder, making the 365 Daytona, a 4380ccV12. Flat 12’s were in liters. Body style would also play an integral role in naming a car, and over the years the styles and names have changed, but the excellence and performance has remained top quality.

Working at the Ferrari Factory in Maranello, Italy, is the job of dreams. Even though workers are free to wear what they choose, you will not see anything but red. Workstations are decorated in Ferrari logos, racing team memorabilia and everyone works with a smile on their face. There are approximately 30 stations that a car visits before completion, and the production of a Ferrari is not rushed. State of the art machines will ensure a beautiful finish on a paint job, but installations of the custom made seats and dashboards are fitted by hand and installed to perfection. The engine shop produces approximately fifty engines a day, due to its fully automated production line, that employs close to a hundred staff. The automation ensures a decrease in mistakes, and a faster production line. The factory itself is a combination of the old meticulous ways, and the latest technology, incorporated in a relaxing, spacious working environment. The manufacturing of a Ferrari might be faster today, than in Enzo’s day, but the love, pride and the passion that goes into every Ferrari, remains unmatched.

Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS

February 9, 2009 by  
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In 1964, the Chevrolet Chevelle made its debut on the market, as a mid-sized vehicle. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Chevrolet produced the Chevelle, which became one of the General Motors group’s most successful vehicles. It appealed to the public, as this model ranged from an ordinary family vehicle to a powerful, and more expensive convertible or coupe. After 1977, the Malibu name replaced Chevelle, and it was the pride and joy of GM.

The Chevelle was designed as the competitor of the Ford Fairlane, with similar size and similar concept, according to the 1955 to 1957 model vehicles. During the years 1967 to 1972, hardtops with four-doors were available and during 1964 to 1965, consumers could purchase two-door station wagons.

Chevrolet entered into the muscle car ranks with the Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS, and during the years 1964 to 1965, the Malibu badge appeared on the vehicles. The Z16 option is an extremely sought after model, and has the emblem on the front of its fender. The badge reflecting Malibu SS only appeared on models sold in Canada after 1966. The Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS was a high performance vehicle, and therefore, it had its very own line of performance equipment and its own line of engines. Engines that were available were the 325hp, 350hp and 375hp V8 engines. After the COPO dropped their displacement rule in regard to engine power, bigger, more powerful engines were fitted into these muscle cars. The engine ratings began to decline in 1972. The most popular Chevelle of all time was the 454. It could rocket over a quarter mile, reaching speeds of 105 to 108 miles per hour within 13 seconds.

The models that were produced between the year 1973 to 1977 were very popular with the public, although collectors are not interested in them. All models between 1974 and 1977 carried the Malibu name. The SS option was available to all the Malibu coupes, and quite unbelievably, the station wagons. Purchasing a Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS, would include black out trims and bucket seats. In 1978, GM decided to downsize on the intermediate models, which led to the Chevelle name being dropped, and all following models, being named Chevrolet Malibu.

Dodge Charger

February 9, 2009 by  
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There are a variety of Dodge vehicles, on three different levels, all bearing the Charger nameplate. The name “Dodge” is connected with a performance model but has also been given to ordinary sedans, hatchbacks and a personal luxury coupe. The name was also given to a 1999 concept car that was very different from the average Charger and was set to be put into production for the 2006 model year.

In 1966 Dodge officially introduced the Charger as competition to the Ford Mustang and the Plymouth Barracuda. The famous Dodge Charger’s interior was state of the art for that time, especially with its four-bucket seats, two in the front and two at the back. The console was also innovative, instead of just being in the front it went full length from front to back. A total of 37,344 Dodge Chargers were produced in 1966.

The model was such a success that in 1967 only minor changes was made, like the adding of turn signals on top of the fenders and the full-length console replaced with a normal-sized console. But the time soon came for change to take place when only half the number of sales for 1966 was sold in 1967.

The 1968, a newly designed Dodge Charger had what is called a “coke bottle” styling which means that the front fenders and the back quarter panels had curves that resembled a coke bottle. The full-length taillights were replaced with taillights similar to a Corvette; these are just some of the differences that changed the 1968 Charger. A year later there was not much difference in the car from an aesthetic point, just slight modifications to the outside of the car. Aside from the R/T version there was also a Special Edition version, which focused on luxury and gave a unique option of a sunroof, which was rare for that time.

The end of muscle cars came in 1971 due to the strict emission standards and the high insurance costs that were put in place. Since then Chargers and Coronets have shared the same body style but the Charger is only a two door whereas the Coronet is a four door. Between 1972 and 1974, the Charger was moved from performance category to a luxury car.

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