At least that game from 'YEARS' ago had AI that you had to race against unlike the TM stuff.
TM would be an utterly different game if you could collide with the recorded opposition cars (I assume that's what you're talking about). It's not a deficiency in the game. It's intentional design.
If you want a game where you race other cars, why are you even playing TM? If you want a game where it's all about You vs The Track, Trackmania delivers magnificently!!
Halutotale: Well it certainly sounds like NSR is a totally different game, then. TM does have some aerial control, though. Perhaps NSR has more in common with Crashday? (How did that game turn out...?)