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Lazenby: Don’t Compare Three Spectacles

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Memorial Day eve, the day Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix is consumed as breakfast, the Indianapolis 500 for lunch, and the Coca-Cola 600 as an overly drawn out dinner – inevitably these showcase events get compared.

Don’t do that.

It’s the greatest day in racing, and a damn shame. Three of the most storied races in motorsports history are packed into one Sunday in May; imagine the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup, and NCAA National Football championship starting within ten hours of each other. It would be a day of must-see-tv, just as this day is for race fans, but think of the conversations.

“The Grey Cup was cool but that’s not real football” … “They may have won the Superbowl, but they didn’t go undefeated, that’s why college is better” … “These kids wouldn’t stack up against true professionals”

The comparisons, we can’t help but make them, and personally I think that chatter dilutes the spectacle. Indy is bad-fast, Monaco slow and technical while the 600 mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway is a straight-up test of endurance. These are separate spectacles – all great in their nature.

I’d say I’m barking at nothing, to be honest, but F1 star Lewis Hamilton threw some considerable shade towards Indy car earlier this week.

According to a French Sports media outlet, L’Equipe, Hamilton said, “I took a look at the qualifying results, Fernando (Alonso), in his first qualifying, came fifth. Does that say something about (the level) of Indy Car? Great drivers, if they can’t succeed in Formula One, look for titles in other races, but to see him come fifth against drivers who do this all year round is…interesting.”

It is interesting, but no one expected Alonso to forget how to drive; besides, he was still driving an open-wheeled car. When Alonso announced he would forgo the Monaco Grand Prix for the Indianapolis 500 it was thought both series’ would benefit from the extra attention, but obviously not all attention is good.

Alonso’s fifth place qualifying effort is a testament to his smooth nerve and the capability of his race team, and no Indy driver was going to be upset with the two time F1 champion beating them. I imagine to beat him would be create more pride than losing to him would surface disappointment.

So what’s with the salt Mr. Hamilton? After-all you were only fourteenth fastest in Monaco qualifying.

This is the same guy who said he was interested in running the Daytona 500 as soon as Alonso announced his Indy intentions –  if he ever does attempt the Great American Race hopefully he understands the relationship between driving talent and qualifying result.

Is an eye-roll emoji acceptable here?

It’s hard to compare NASCAR’s 3000 pound stock car to Indy, and of course, the four corner 2.5 mile track is the antithesis of Formula 1. If these three races didn’t occur the same day every year race fans wouldn’t be forced to find talking points on incomparable automobiles.

Want to talk about how Monaco isn’t conducive to passing, how about we discuss the transformation from race car to airplane at Indianapolis, or ponder the purity of racing with track-bite on 24 degree turns just to put your favorite form of motorsports on a pedestal? I don’t.

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About Camden Lazenby

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