Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Australian V8 Supercars

Recently several racing series have come under fire for a relative lack of excitement. Both F1 and NASCAR have gotten the "boring" tag, and attendance for IRL and Champ Car events has been dismal. One series that is unquestionably exciting, however, is the Australian V8 Supercar series. The cars are Holden Commodores, which are the basis for the current GTO, and Ford Falcons, a similar offering that Ford inexplicably does not bring to the U.S. Near 30 of these V8 sedans blast around road courses in Australia in races of varying lengths. Some of the races are 50 lap sprints, and some are 150 lap endurance events including driver changes and brake pad swaps. The cars are incredibly durable, backing out of tire barriers and driving through fairly massive collisions. Tire-smoking burnout 180s are the most common way to get cars turned the right way after a spin. The racing is also incredibly close, with frequent passing all over the track and tight finishes. The series is literally a reminder of why I enjoy auto racing so much, and I would highly recommend checking it out if you have the chance. Speed Channel has recently begun showing this season's races, and their coverage is excellent. Borrowing the feed from an Australian channel, the races are edited to essentially skip caution periods without losing race continuity. Absent Speed Channel, the V8 Supercar website has video highlights from races of past seasons, and they are definitely worth a look.

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