So, moving from one extreme to the other, let’s take a look at motor sports. Everything that can move seems to be raced these days, from Formula One cars to lawn mowers on steroids, and there’s no doubt that such races are incredibly popular.
All over the world, racing motorised vehicles draws millions of ardent fans each year to the literally thousands of races and other events which pull in billions in gate fees and merchandising.
The cost of supporting one F1 vehicle—which is only in theory, as all racing teams host a minimum of two vehicles, a primary and secondary one, in case of a crash or system failure—is literally tens of millions of dollars per year. Sponsorships account for the vast majority of operating fees, but the ticket office and licensed merchandise they generate is still the financial mainstay of the racing industry. NASCAR alone pulls in billions annually from such products.
What exactly is it that draws the crowds to motor racing:
Is it the potential for an accident; the thrill of speed?
The mental powers involved in being able to handle such a machine?
Perhaps each spectator has his or her own personal reason for enjoying the sport.
One thing that’s sure is that from the very beginning of the automobile age, people have succumbed to the pressing need to test the limits of their skills and vehicles by pitting themselves against one another in a test of speed and endurance.
Not unlike horse racing, dubbed ‘The sport of Kings,’ motor vehicle racing offers the senses the thrill of victory laps, and the agony of defeated egos, and could quite easily be dubbed ‘The sport of the Proletariat.’
The very first sanctioned automobile race was in 1894 in France, and was a test of the vehicle’s durability. It wasn’t long, however, before the emphasis shifted to raw speed, and the appeal of speed in motor soon spread. Many number of racing formats drawing enormous crowds sprang up all over the world with the end result being that today; motor racing is among the most popular and certainly among the most commercialized of all sporting events.
Not only that, but there is now a literally dizzying array of such contests to choose from. If you are a fan of the more conventional form of motor car racing, you cab choose between F1, CART, NASCAR, Indy Car, Drag Racing, Hot Rods, Rally as well as Motorcycle contests and a host of others.
For the more eclectic fans, there is Ice racing, which consists in outfitting either cars or motorcycles with special studded tires to grip the ice, or may even involved the more suitable snow mobile variety. One can also enjoy the exploits of Hill Climbing or Speed Climbing, which tests individual drivers of either motor cars or motorcycles, to compete against the clock to finish a course on an uphill incline.
Believe it or not, this is one of the oldest forms of racing competition in the world, the first such event having taken place as early as 1897, and remains as popular today as ever.
A common event which serves as an introduction to racing for many enthusiasts is ‘kart racing’, involving small, scaled down models of open or caged chassis motor vehicles commonly known as Go-Karts.
Once considered merely a hobby, the appeal of kart racing has grown to become a considerable sport in its own right, and has launched the career of many a professional driver.
For the truly unique minded fan, there is the ever popular Demolition Derby. Amounting to the very antithesis of safe driving, the object of this frenetic ‘sport’ is to literally use your wreck of an old vehicle to destroy those of all other contestants, engaging the old adage of ‘last car standing’ to its ultimate degree. There’s no denying that there’s something undeniably exciting about watching someone else’s vehicle getting sandwiched by a phalanx of drivers, and trying to gauge which one will eventually limp out of the arena, smoking and creaking like a battered and bruised gladiator of old.
Motor racing certainly has its place in our society and there’s little chance of it ever disappearing – apart from lawn mower racing, that is. That just seems such a waste when there are so many good plots of overgrown grass in desperate need of grooming.