Mokpo vs Vegas – A Tale of Two Races

This weekend is a busy one for open wheel racing. Just a week after the F1 world championship was decided in Japan, the F1 circus moves to Mokpo, South Korea for the second Korean Grand Prix.

Also this weekend, IndyCar is hosting its season finale and championship decider at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This Vegas event is being lauded as one of the most heavily promoted races in recent US motorsports history. It’s creating a modest amount of buzz for a series that was dead in the water a couple of years back.

We’ve heard a lot about Las Vegas $5m challenge – designed to attract series outsiders (ideally someone from NASCAR) to try for a win against series regulars. That plan didn’t quite pan out but we still have something similar involving Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon for the press to write about.

There are also multiple events in and around Vegas in the build up to the race. Considering the fact that IndyCar is still in its rebuilding phase this is a great job well done by series boss Randy Bernard.

It’s all the more impressive because all the showmanship represents a pretty stark contrast to the unrelentingly depressing Korean round of the F1 championship – a contrast that is worth pondering for a few minutes. IndyCar also have the luxury of the fact the the championship is still undecided – if only F1 still had that!

The Korean round of the series has every ingredient of ‘bad F1’ writ large:

It’s remote – on reclaimed land in a distant and industrial outpost of South Korea that even most Koreans care little for.

It’s vaguely pointless – the circuit is purpose-built in the middle of mudflats, which should by now be a thriving little city of enterprise and excitement – but of course it’s not – it’s just a sort of barren cathedral to the folly of trusting Bernie Ecclestone’s sales pitch.

All in all this pointless ‘event by the numbers’ is uninspiring to fans, journalists and teams alike.

I’d like Bernie to consider introducing a ‘What if every round was like xxxxx’ test when considering new races. Because if every round was like Korea – F1 would be dead.

On the other hand for IndyCar – if every round was like Vegas, they’d be speeding up the comeback trail.

Good luck to them!


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