A) You are "racing" in a populated city. This means that cars are driving on highways and stuff, and you're weaving through them. That's fine.
B) Certain little hills and turns and intersections can hide traffic. While it's ok to be *weaving* through traffic, the computer (or game designers) threw in way too many sucker punches. "Oh, I bet a person will have a lot of fun by being in first place, taking a good racing line through a turn, ass-ramming some car they couldn't see and can't avoid, and respawning in sixth place. Yeah, that will be a lot of fun."
C) The computer AI is far too elastic. If you're in first place, it's usually going to be by a second or two. If you're behind other cars, it's going to be anywhere from 6-20 seconds. If you crash, the computer passes you. No matter how hard you try, you won't be able to catch up (or if you are catching up, it's to whoever is in 5th place or so). Of course, that's because you'll be too busy crashing in to more shit. Did I mention that crashing is probably what the designers thought was fun? Did I mention I thought crashing was fun? Yes and no. I think crashing is well animated, but I'd rather be ramming various uncomfortable objects up my posterior over crashing in a race.
D) Some times, you get to race as a "special event". This means you have a course to yourself and some souped up car, and you have to beat a certain time record. There are usually two different patterns of cars that will appear on the road. As long as you can memorize the patterns, you can race fairly well. This is an enjoyable race. You also get a lot of boost by driving on the wrong side of the road, near misses, drifting, and other things which represent good racing skills. In the actual race modes, you get almost no boost from these items. You do, however, get a full boost meter from causing your opponents to crash. This means that you're rewarded not for racing well, but rather for playing a demolition derby.
E) If you do cause your opponents to crash, it cuts away to show a slow motion shot of it. Then it cuts back, more often than not, with you about to hit a wall or another car. Of course, the game designers realised they were making bad design decisions, and decided to fix the problem.. I mean, band-aid the problem by making you invincible for half a second after you've caused an opponent to crash.
F) A few times, after I've crashed in to something, I respawned with my nose facing a wall. Time to restart that game.
G) The developers knew a person wouldn't be able to get gold in a race without trying 600 times, therefore you can restart a race at any time with no cost or penalty. Multi-race GP and you've messed up the second of three races? Just restart the specific race you're in, of course!
H) While you might be invincible after causing your opponents to crash, no such thing holds true after you've just crashed and respawned. Usually that goes *crash* *respawn* *crash* *restart*.
Ultimately I think that Road Rage is the most honest of the "racing" type modes, at least as far as compared to the action in the things which are labeled "race". Of course, the Preview Lap, Burning Lap, and Special Event modes are enjoyable for the racing. Just don't go in to a "race" and expect to actually try to race, usually.