Darth, it's more than the race itself. First its the driver - his up-bringing silver spoon or strugling to make it in life. Next its the owner - how much money does he have (enough to burn like Steinbrenner) or cutting costs whenever possible (like FL Marlins). Now assemble a team (like pro sports in a way) speed, flexibility, smarts under pressure and a crew chief to lead it. Is he like Vince Lombardi, maybe like a Don Shula. Now the season is brutal, the drivers will tell you the race is the easy part, its the distractions and commitments every day and every hour that put the stress and toll on the the drivers. But the racing holds one more significant premise in its strange appeal, you can watch your favorite driver die at any time, in practice or on the final lap. The deeper you've identified with the driver and team the stronger the appeal of the sport.
Now as a fan you pick someone you identify with - flashy - conservative - mild mannered - wild do anything - big mouth, tough or off season midget porn star. You follow the off season and all events leading up to the big start at Daytona through all the other insignificant details that make up the big show the reat of the season. If you get involved with the whole picture its not just the cars going round and round