Yeah, once you get it down, it takes about 2mins. I got pretty darn good at it last year. Especially when you use your Tac's Motion Accelerator!
You should have read previous messages, as dirlettia explained they changed it all this year:
Last years race did indeed only take a matter of minutes but changes in the last dev blog are suggesting for many it will take much longer.
The whole premise is you get around the track faster than an NPC opponent who never slips and makes constant progress around the track. If you leave the track you fail the race, so if you cut a corner too sharply you fail.
The devs have said it is the same race but that does not mean that it has not been tweaked in that the NPC's could be faster and the wiggle room on corners reduced to increase the difficulty. Heck even the slippiness values may have been changed to slow you down on corners.
I really doubt everything in this race will be the same as last year, although the spamming of F to start it will likely still be there along with the 20hour cooldown.
But I agree with you on this:
I really hate the 20hr cooldown. It always bites me in the ass when you try to do it around a work schedule. I wish Cryptic would just do like Blizzard does... counter reset at your local midnight.