In the US, Formula One racing lost the popularity contest to NASCAR a long time ago. But after five years, F1 returns to the States with this weekend's race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Red Bull, sponsor of F1 driver Sebastian Vettel, has put together an interesting set of numbers illustrating the differences between the two racing series.
To start with, Formula One has just 24 drivers, while NASCAR fields 50 entrants. Stock cars can reach speeds of about 200 miles per hour, just a bit slower than F1's 205. But NASCAR drivers experience only about 2Gs of lateral force during, at most courses, only four left-hand turns. F1 drivers endure 5Gs in multiple left-and right-hand turns.
The Daytona 500, NASCAR's best-attended venue, counted 182,000 fans this year. Formula One's biggest attendance is at the Australian Grand Prix where 298,000 fans came out to watch. Those fans helped finance F1's best-paid driver, Fernando Alonso. He makes $37 million a year. NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulls in $28 million. That's an average of $1.85 million per race for Alonso, who only competes in 20 events. Earnhardt Jr., however, has 36 races to drive in and averages about $778,000 a race.
The infographic is fun, if a bit skewed against NASCAR, especially when considering Red Bull was a NASCAR driver sponsor until the end of the 2011 season. Sour grapes perhaps?