Safety cars and full course caution periods have been part of the motor racing scene for some while now and have been a good idea. You've only got to have been around in the 60's, 70's and 80's and watched Formula One and Sports Car races to realise that they were definitely needed (as was the waving of a red flag to stop the race!). The trouble is now though, it seems that the race director can't wait to utilise them. It almost seems like they've paid for them so they might as well use them.
I watch as much as I can on the BBC, Sky, Itv, Eurosport, MOTORS TV and anywhere else I can see motor racing, notwithstanding the needs of my wife and daughters TV viewing. It is really apparant that the Americans have fully embraced the concept as NASCAR Nationwide, ALMS and GrandAm are rife with them. I heard on a Radio Le Mans podcast from their American correspondant Declan Brendan, that NASCAR like breaking up the races with full course cautions because the NASCAR crowd can't understand a race without them and that they like the field closed up all the time. It makes for the traditional crash, bang, wallop finish. Or is it all just contrived and an excuse? The same can be said of the sprint races in the American Le Mans Series as the safety car comes out, picks up the leader, the cars line up, the prototypes pit first, the GTs second, and once that has all been done, racing finally gets underway again, normally after an advert break or two. And what's with the wave round to get back on the lead lap? Where did that nutty idea come from?
Now even Formula One is getting in on the act as seen in Valencia with the cars lined up and the backmarkers waved through to get them out of the way and at the back of the field. Really? So now we have a train of cars travelling slowly behind a safety car and some others "bombing round" to catch up with the train. Hardly a "safety" moment surely? In the recent GrandAm race at Watkins Glen the Suntrust No10 DP lost a bit of bodywork off the nearside rear at the start in a bit of "argy-bargy" after a safety car period but, all the field went past it. Did a marshall run out and pick it up before the field came round again? No, they had another full course yellow. Blooming heck. I mean the fastest DP was lapping at 1m 41s or so. Surely waved yellow flags would have done the business?
Safety cars and full course cautions have become a growth business and I think they need to be reined in to let the motor racing become racing again.