What is the purpose of Automotive Sports?

NASCAR. Formula-1. World Rally Championship. Drifting. Endurance Racing. There are numerous types of automotive sports and racing that exist in the world. Sometimes I wonder though: why? What is the purpose of such sports? There is the obvious reason of these events being entertaining to some. And while seeing Lewis Hamilton lap someone in Formula-1 can be exhilarating, not all of us are Jeremy Clarkson and cry “Oh Britannia!” every five minutes. Of course, Formula-1 is a great sport with a great history. Don’t get me wrong; it is a lovely thing to behold. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing the top-tech duking it out lap after lap in a flurry of speed? Formula-1 also has the benefit of testing technology that would trickle down into production vehicles; thus, it also serves the purpose of helping the car world.

And NASCAR – why? If I wanted to see the shell of an Impala with sticker-headlights go 220 mph, I would invest in a catapult and launch Fischer-Price toy cars toward the sun. It has to be the least entertaining form of automotive sport in existence; for me, at least. The technology in these NASCAR cars also seems to come from the time when people still transported goods via Ox. In other words, it doesn’t remain a really relevant test-bed for automotive technology. Somehow, though, it remains one of the most popular sports here in the States. Drifting also seems useless as a test-bed for technology in cars, but at least it has a higher entertainment factors than watching Fisher-Price-like cars going in a giant circle.

There can be arguments made for both entertainment and technology-testing for each major form of automotive sport. And while entertainment is great, seeing, hearing, and reading about the new wave of the automotive future can be the most entertaining aspect of it all. While this may seem like a noble to be involved in automotive sports, I am also of the mind that seeing the Porsche 919 LMP1 car destroy a lap at Le Mans or reruns of the Audi Quattro take on a World Rally Stage is  just flipping awesome.

What is your favorite automotive sport and why? Let me know!

 

Drive Spiritedly.

-JRB

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From Race-Car to Your Car – What is the Connection?

For the past several days, I have been entertaining myself with various questions related to the automotive world. Usually these questions lead to nothing more than my tediously drooling over certain vehicles on the internet that I will never have the pleasure of owning, let along drive. But, along my rapid questioning covering a certain vehicle segment, I decided to gather some information from others as to their thoughts. Besides, more input from other points of view can really add depth and clarity to a discussion, even if that discussion started off as a mere wonder.

As I began discussing sport and performance in today’s market with a friend of mine yesterday and today, the discussion lead to the racetrack. What is the relationship between the track and the road? What is the relationship between those highly-tuned, screaming race machines and our conventional road-car? These were the questions that lead to other discussions as to motor-sport history, motor-sport race types, etc…

Essentially, as I firmly believe, the new technology used and developed for the track eventually trickles down into the cars we drive everyday. At least that is what I believe should be the aim of those companies that take part in racing. Examples that came to mind immediately were the new Audi autos, the Corvette, a Porsche here and there, the BMW M-Cars, and the new Mercedes-Benz models. While there are many, many other vehicles and brands that take part in racing, these handful are some of the most lusted-for vehicles on the planet at the moment. Audi has dominated Le Mans basically since the year 2000, the Corvette seems unstoppable in Grand-AM and ALMS (American Le Mans Series), Porsche used to own Le Mans and still participates in several Cup-Car, Le Mans-style series, and other championships with a lot of success, BMW basically stomps everyone in DTM racing and has the touring-car thing down to a “t” since they basically invented it, and Mercedes-Benz AMG has absolutely obliterated the competition this year in Formula 1. How do those cars we see on Sunday sell cars on Monday? Is there even a connection? Which race series provides a better test-bed for road-car production?

As my friend and I pondered and discussed these questions, we realized that there are many companies that make fantastic cars that are not bred on the track. But in all honesty, the breeding and testing on the track helps the production models in some area. A great performer on the road does not necessarily have to be conceived on the track with tons of engineers, but every car bred on the track is a great performer. Basically its one of those situations similar to “that every Bourbon is a Whiskey, but not every Whiskey is a Bourbon” kind of things.

Le Mans-style racing is all about endurance, fuel management, durability; F1 is all about speed, grip, tire testing, engine building, etc…; and DTM is all about the “rub” while trying to out-maneuver your opponent. These are just 3 of the most popular types of racing today (sorry NASCAR, but snooze for me), but they each have some sort of development that has trickled down to their production models if they so have them.

What do you think? Do you agree with the concluded assessment? I would like to hear from you! Thanks for reading and enjoy!

 

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief of The Spirited Drive