F1 Stock Car Speed Statistics
Whenever I discuss F1 stock car racing with someone who likes motorsport but has never been to see the Big League, a familiar question inevitably crops up - 'So how fast do they go?' . This usually comes after mentioning 454 cubic inch Chevrolet engines of 8,000+ ccs. Needless to say, I point out that it is not just about speed but the ability of drivers to harness and apply the power with anticipation, aggression and composure in a full contact sport where twenty plus others are trying to get to the chequered flag first or make sure that their competitors don't finish. Oh, and if you are good at it, you are penalised by starting from the back!
That certainly wets their appetite but still they persist with, 'Yes, but how fast are they going?' . I tell them about tarmac and shale ovals of around 300/400 metres, 16 lap races lasting say 4 mins 30 secs and lap records of between 14 and 16 secs but still they want to know - 'But how fast are they moving?' .
So I thought I would try to work it out! I've concentrated mainly on the lap records at various tracks and for the basic information I'm grateful to Colin Casserley's excellent publication of the 'BriSCA 2007 Yearbook' that did so much to promote the sport to a wider audience. There may well have been some changes to the lap records since this was published but I doubt whether these would make any significant differences to the average speeds calculated.
Birmingham - 300 metres
Lap Record 15.041 secs by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 44.62 mph
Buxton - 380 metres
Lap Record 15.573 secs by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 54.58 mph
Cowdenbeath - 400 metres
Lap Record 14.858 secs by 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr
Average Speed 60.22 mph
Hednesford - 400 metres
Lap Record 14.517 secs by H24 Willie Peeters
Average Speed 61.64 mph
Ipswich - 400 metres
Lap Record 15.545 secs by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 57.56 mph
Knockhill - 500 metres (TriOval)
Lap Record 15.972 secs by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 70.03 mph
Northampton - 400 metres
Lap Record 14.951 secs by 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr
Average Speed 59.85 mph
Skegness - 310 metres
Lap Record 13.577 secs by 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr
Average Speed 51.08 mph
Wimbledon - 350 metres
Lap Record 14.458 secs by 515 Frankie Wainman Jnr
Average Speed 54.15 mph
Belle Vue - 285 metres
Lap Record 15.521 secs by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 41.08 mph
Coventry - 303 metres
Lap Record 15.462 secs by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 43.84 mph
16 Lap Record 4 mins 25.715 secs at an average of 16.607 secs per lap by 8 Mick Harris
Average Speed 40.81 mph
20 Lap Record 5 mins 33 secs at an average of 16.650 secs per lap by 128 John Wright
Average Speed 40.70 mph
25 Lap Record 6 mins 49.583 secs at an average of 16.383 secs per lap by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 43.82 mph
Kings Lynn - 340 metres
Lap Record 16.29 secs by 391 Andy Smith
Average Speed 46.69 mph
Sheffield - 360 metres
Lap Record 16.26 secs by 84 Tom Harris
Average Speed 49.53 mph
I would have included Bristol in the tarmac tracks but I have been unable to discover the lap record.
Looking at the results, it is probably no coincidence that arguably the top two drivers in the sport hold the majority of the records with Andy Smith having eight to Frankie Wainman Jnr's four. Good to see the Harris family hold two of the records with a Dutch driver Willie Peeters flying the flag for other nations.
Below are models of two of my favourite cars, Andy's from 2002 and Frankie Jnr's from 1998:
As I've already indicated, these statistics are really of interest value only. In isolation, they are not the main attraction of F1 stock car racing but they do provide food for thought and now when I get asked the question - 'How fast do they go? - I'll be able to answer it!
Incidentally, I suspect Andy Smith's 25 lap record at Coventry was at a World Final meeting starting at the front but, even allowing for this, to have an average of 16.383 secs per lap over that distance on a crowded, watered and drying track is pretty amazing. The average speed of 43.82 mph compares well with his one lap record average speed of 43.84 mph.
Came across an interesting feature in the May 1963 copy of Auto Speedway and Stock Car News entitled 'Stopwatch Corner' written by Len Porter. It details stock car speeds at Walthamstow, Coventry, Hednesford and Brafield (Northampton) stadiums from nearly 50 years ago. Obviously, with the different power units it is difficult to compare like for like with the speeds mentioned above but however powerful the engine, there is a limit to how much speed can be achieved on a short oval track. It makes interesting reading and the article is reproduced below: