Even though Andy Roddick once pondered how someone could spend four hours watching cars make left turns, the ATP tour and NASCAR have a lot more in common than you might think. For starters, the season-ending pinnacle events in both solo sports take place at the same time — The Sprint Cup finale is today, and it’s the starting date for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Both seasons have short breaks, kicking off new seasons in only a few months with major events — the Australian Open in January and the Daytona 500 in February. Often during the season, tennis will be on ESPN2 with racing simultaneously on ESPN. Both are victimized by rain delays. High speeds are posted on the scoreboards, with 140 mph serves common, and race cars shoot around the track at a similar pace, sometimes reaching 200 mph or more. Rackets and cars get mangled. Many of the players date or marry models, or women who very well should be. Both have been dominated in recent years by a few men — Jimmie Johnson on the track, Federer and now Nadal on the court. I could go on.
The most obvious difference is attendance — NASCAR crowds are huge, often more than 100,000, (140,000 at the Homestead, Fla., today), compared to about 50,000 at the U.S. Open facility on its busiest day (although Flushing Meadows can feel like there are 100,000-plus on site.) European NASCAR drivers are as rare as corn dogs at a country club. Tennis in person doesn’t require earplugs. And come to think of it, I’ve never seen anyone passed out drunk in a muddy parking lot before a tennis match or heard Lynyrd Skynyrd blaring from a pickup truck.
I’m sure you can think of more. Please post your own observations on tennis and NASCAR in the comments field here.