Racetrack graphs was a novelty item here some time ago. They made an appearance in the October issue of Wired Magazine, known for its design. We have already discussed information distortion in such charts.
This chart fails the self-sufficiency test, forcing readers to read and interpret the data labels, and to ignore the racetrack construct.
Graphical elements applied as cosmetics? Charts sacrificing data integrity for entertainment? This takes us back to our previous discussion: can good charts be entertaining? Now flipped over: can entertaining charts be good?
Reference: "Good, Green Livin'", Wired Magazine, 10/2006.