Indycar and Formula One might be the top tiers of road racing on either side of the Atlantic, but where spectacles are concerned, few categories can best British Touring Car Championship racing. The tight rules, low levels of grip and power, and wide fields ensure close competition, and having fenders guarantees some rubbing.
Spectacle aside, it’s the close relationship to road cars that draw in plenty of viewers. The cars are accessible, and whether the designers are genuinely interested in developing their cars’ multi-link suspension or just want to sell more road cars, the link between the racing machines and the road-going versions is appreciated by many.
Watching a younger Tiff Needell interview and drive three of the 1992 season’s top finishers, you get the sense that the drivers have been hired to be a part-time salesman; as several of the drivers like to use the term “user friendly” to describe their racing cars, which are based on road-going economy cars. There might be a commercial influence, but the cars are all serious machines that are capable of making magic with little in the way of outright figures.
Lightweight and slim proportions contribute largely to the BTCC spectacle, so do the X-Trac dogbox transmissions. The cars only make around three-hundred horsepower, but they deliver their power smoothly and use very sporty steering racks to add responsiveness. They may be a bit on the tame side compared to Indycars, but, according to the old man, these nervous little BTCC cars offer “total enjoyment” for those willing to dance with them.