Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pure and Simple

by Simon

I’m a big fan of Touring Car racing. It’s Europe's equivalent to Nascar in a way. Production based road cars do battle in close quarters racing. It’s very entertaining motorsport.

Since being in the US, I’ve lost touch with the sport in Europe, but over the last few weeks, I’ve been catching up with the last few seasons of the British Touring Car Championship (aka BTCC) courtesy of YouTube. I do have to say I was a little disappointed with the developments over the last few years.

To give you a quick recap of the last fifty years, the BTCC started in 1958 and for much of that time, it was a multi class format (just the way Tammy likes it) where muscle cars took on the pocket rockets. Famously, Minis went wheel to wheel with Ford Falcon in the 60’s. In the 90’s, it went to a two-liter formula only. For me, this was the BTCC’s heyday. Bumper to bumper racing with plenty of manufacturers involved and large crowds to watch them. With the new millennium came changes to keep the sport affordable and exciting and this is where I have the problem. Events used to take the form of a single race event. Occasionally, there’d be a double-header event over a single race event. But now the championship takes the form a triple-header, consisting of three sprint races on a single race day. A qualifying session determines the grid for race one. The finishing positions in race one determine the grid for race two. However for race three, there's a complicated reverse grid format where the top ten is determined by a complicated drawing of numbers for the bottom five finishers with whoever’s name is drawn for the hat is now the pole sitter and everyone goes in sequence after that. So if the 7th place finisher is drawn, the grid would go, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th. Then drivers have ballast added and removed depending on where they finish.

Oh my God! I just want to watch some bloody good racing. I don’t want a math problem.

Maybe I’m a Phyllis Stein, but I like my racing the way simple. I don’t want gimmicks. I don’t want weight penalties. I don’t want rule manipulation. I want the best car and driver combination to win. Now that could mean total domination for one driver/team or a dogfight every race, but what I don’t want to see is interference from series organizers to ensure the entertainment value is preserved, because it doesn’t need it. Racing is racing. It doesn’t need to be toyed with.

Agree or disagree? Am I a caveman in a new age? Discuss.


  1. Seriously, leave the math to the engineers. Just give us good racing. I remember when Indy did the double-header last year with a reverse-grid start for the second race (Texas, was it?). Drivers (i.e., Dario) were pissed, and I think fans were mostly amused/confused.

    Just race! And yeah, give me multiple classes of cars....

  2. Organizers shouldn't manipulate outcomes with reverse grids. Grr....