I was speaking to a book club last week about DID NOT FINISH and an interesting point got raised. One person made the point that all racecars (like Formula Ford, Formula Three, etc.) are identical. To that I had a simple answer: All racecars are created equal but some are created more equal than others. :-)
Racecars are like snowflakes. No two are identical. Tolerances will dictate that one might be better than another. But ignoring that fact, racecars do get a helping hand. Engines are one major area of difference. There are “works” engines. The engine builders keep their best engines with the best performance back for the favored drivers and no matter how much money you have, you can’t just buy one of these engines. Is this wrong or illegal? No. People can sell whatever they want to whomever they want, but it does tilt the playing field a tad.
Works cars and engines are only one aspect of the inequality. Rules can be bent. Not broken, but bent. I can't say I didn’t pull some stunts. When I was short on money for tires, I had my “scruntineering” tires and my “race” tires. My scruntineering tires weren’t any good for racing, because they'd lost their grip, but they would pass the pre-race inspection. My race tires were down to the canvas and technically illegal, but stuck to the track like glue. So what I did was put the scrutineering tires for the inspection, get my signoff and the second I got back to the paddock, I switched the tires over. The scrutineers could kick you off the start line just before the race if they saw something they didn’t like. I dodged that bullet by draping a coat over each tire or have one of my pit crew sit on the wheels to cover my crime.
I don’t think there's a team or driver out there who hasn’t done something to give them an edge. It’s not cheating. It’s gamesmanship and that’s part of the sport. :-)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.