The auto racing world issued a free age test over the weekend, with two prominent series staging races in the American South that started within a half hour of each other.
I was a perfect lab rat for NASCAR and Formula 1 to study.
I entered Sunday’s speed smorgasbord right on that young/old line. At 45, I’ve seen plenty but remain in that 18-to-49 “key” demographic that broadcasters supposedly crave.
I watch NASCAR almost every week, either for my job or for pleasure. I know enough about F1 to be dangerous – who’s good, who’s a backmarker, what “Constructors Standings” are, the strange way they spell the rubber things they drive on (“tyres”), etc. – but not enough to subscribe to Netflix and fall in love with “Drive to Survive.”
My favorite sport is baseball (old), but my favorite pastime is sports gambling (young). I’m an early riser (old) but willing to sacrifice sleep if a thrilling Stanley Cup Playoffs game goes into triple-overtime (young).
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Sunday’s races couldn’t have been more antipodal when it comes to the age they targeted. During throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway, NASCAR didn’t even pretend to care what young people thought. The F1 race in Miami, meanwhile, had everything young people love, including all-night parties and modern musical artists who aren’t any good at making music.
So let’s break this down into components and see who did better with me.
The carF1: Before the Miami Grand Prix, ABC gave us an up-close look at Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. The thing looked like something out of a science fiction novel. It has over-wheel winglets, 18-inch low-profile tyres, a snazzy front wing and an aerodynamic design that helps it easily travel faster than 200 mph. It’s cool looking.
NASCAR: Hey, Kurt Busch is using the old McDonald’s paint scheme!
F1: You couldn’t swing a socket wrench in that South Florida paddock without hitting a famous person. Michael Jordan, Michelle Obama, Patrick Mahomes, LeBron James, Bad Bunny, Ashton Kutcher, David Beckham, Tom Brady…they all wanted to be there for this. Whether they actually watched the race is not known, nor does it seem to matter.
NASCAR: The guest broadcaster for FS1 was Bill Elliott.
F1: According to The Sporting News, the cheapest ticket for the Miami Grand Prix on the secondary market was $553. Folks paid up to $30,000 for fountain view grandstand seats. A capacity crowd of 80,000 jammed in for the event.
NASCAR: You can buy grandstand tickets directly from Darlington Raceway for as little as $50. That’s why you saw moms and kids in the stands together, albeit with plenty of empty seats around them.
F1: Taking 57 laps around the circuit, the 20 cars finished the Miami Grand Prix in 1 hour and 34 minutes.
NASCAR: Taking 293 laps around the circuit, the 36 cars completed the Goodyear 400 in 3 hours and 21 minutes.
F1: As in most F1 races, the winner was settled pretty early. Max Verstappen took the lead from Charles Leclerc on Lap 8 and won by 3.786 seconds.
NASCAR: William Byron looked like he might cruise to his third victory of the season before Joey Logano caught him with two laps to go, bumped him from behind and drove past to win in controversial fashion.
So there you have it. NASCAR wins 4-1, which means I’m a grandpa. Another benefit of NASCAR is that, after a finish like Sunday’s, you can always go online and join the lively Twitter debate about the tactics Logano used.
Honestly, though? I’m getting too old for that stuff.