No single event staged over the last ten years better illustrates the enormous disconnect existing between Formula 1 and new media than does Monday's (night) Daytona 500, postponed by around 30 hours from Sunday due to inclement weather.
While NASCAR regularly comes in for stick from the F1 fraternity on the basis that stock car drivers don't race in rain (conveniently overlooking the fact that last June around 100,000 Canadians thought that of F1 pilots), that its technology is antiquated, running until this year on carburettors, (conveniently overlooking the fact that F1's V8s are rooted in the last century, well beyond current NASCAR stock blockers) and that full yellows and course cars are deployed to 'spice the show' (!), there is no doubt NASCAR does an awful lot right when it comes to wooing (and, crucially, retaining) its fan base.
Yes, bum-on-seat and eyeball numbers have dropped of late, while Detroit's debt restructuring period briefly made the White House NASCAR's biggest sponsor, yet the flagship round of this uniquely North American series still pulled an audience of 30m despite running on a workday evening and US time zones complicating matters. More impressively, NASCAR does so 40 weekends a year - double F1's schedule.
It was, though, an incident in the midst of the race which really drove home the difference between F1 and NASCAR.
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South African-born Dieter trained as industrial engineer before holding down a variety of senior motor industry marketing and manufacturing positions. At the age of 40 he decided to follow his passion, and became the first and only South African journalist to cover Formula 1 regularly. Dieter joined AtlasF1 at the beginning of 2004 – a year prior to its merger with Autosport – and his regular column offers an intriguing analysis of F1’s politicking and commercial chicanery. Although now also proudly Belgian, he gives his domicile as "Wherever F1 duplicity lurks".@RacingLines More features by Dieter Rencken