Competition runs in our blood. And ever since we’ve been able to, we have been challenging each other in everything we do. From the time when people used to compete over who could catch the bigger game, to the time when entire empires would face off against one another with huge armies at their disposal just so they could prove themselves to be the best, the human tendency for competitiveness hasn’t died down even a bit.
Today, competition runs on an international level. There are sporting events, people love comparing economies, and world leaders bare their teeth as they show off their country’s military might and capabilities. And if there’s one type of competitive event that people love, it would be the racing type. From marathon runs carried out by running yourself, to horse racing, to of course, automotive racing. From the day motor vehicles were made, people have loved to race them around to not only show off their vehicle’s superiority, but to also display their skills at their fullest potential.
A Brief History of the Beginning
Automotive racing became a thing in the mid-19th Century. We do in fact have records of the first ever race carried out between automobiles. This event took place in England, between the market town of Ashton-under-Lyne and the football stadium of Old Trafford. It occurred on the 30th of August in the year of 1867, and began at exactly 4:30AM. The race itself was a competition between Isaac Watt Boulton and Daniel Adamson, and was won by the former.
The next big record we have today is of an event known as The Great Race of 1878, a race that was a direct result of the Wisconsin legislature passing an act in 1875 that offered a prize sum for what would be the first official motor race that would take place in the United States. The Great Race of 1878 took place on the 16th of July, and was a 200-mile-long course. After that we also know of an event organized on the 28th of April in 1887, which was a 2-kilometer-long race in Paris. It didn’t take long before people were racing motorboats, and eventually planes as well.
For a lot of people, racing begins and ends at Formula 1. Regarded as the highest class of international auto racing, Formula 1 has had a long and storied history with memorable events and races held over the world. And today, it is just as thrilling as it was decades ago. For any fan of Formula 1, the appeal comes not just from the visuals of a twisting and curving track and the whizzing past of dozens of sleek supercars, but also from the talent required for this type of race.
Formula 1 racing isn’t all about blurred jets of red rushing past you so fast that you would miss them if you blinked. It also isn’t all about the sweet sound of those powerful engines. It is also about the planning and patience each driver has to perfectly execute out on the track. You can’t surpass your opponents by simply gunning it and hoping your car will somehow be faster than the rest. Each tight turn presents an opportunity for skillful navigation. Navigation that if done right, will move you up a notch. But if done wrong, might just end up with you and your car in a corner, upside down, and on fire. Nothing comes close to Formula 1, and every fan will defend that fact till their last breath.
NASCAR is one of the most popular motorsport events in the world. It is done with stock cars on giant, oval tracks inside a huge stadium. At first glance to someone new to NASCAR or just new to the racing world in general, NASCAR might seem like it’s a bit simple compared to other motorsports. They wouldn’t be necessarily wrong; oval tracks are in fact simpler to drive on that twisting, curving ones. However, stick with NASCAR for a bit and you’ll slowly start to appreciate the finer details of stock car racing, and just how much skill this type of racing event needs.
If you have watched the CARS movie from Pixar, you already know somewhat about NASCAR; as main character Lightning McQueen and the types of races he partakes in are modeled strictly after NASCAR. The beauty of NASCAR comes from the long races that slowly develop over time. With each passing lap, you’re expecting something different from each driver as you learn more and more about them and their tactics and observe the actions that they’re taking out there on the track.
World Rally Championship
Rallying is a very different form of racing than Formula 1 or NASCAR; it doesn’t take place on perfect tracks constructed for maximum racing potential from hyper-powered cars. Instead, it takes place on public or private roads, many of which are selected in a way that the selection is a mix of asphalt and dirt roads. Though of course, special tracks mimicking these roads are also made for rally racing purposes.
The World Rally Championship is the end all be all sporting event for rally racers from around the globe. If you plan to catch a race from the WRC, be prepared for wild racing so challenging you’ll keep thinking you’re about to witness a car crash live. And many rally cars have crashed over the years, which is to be expected from a racing discipline that involves making hairpin turns on slippery dirt and going flying over a bumpy road. Rally cars are especially modified to withstand these accidents to ensure driver safety, but it can be terrifyingly thrilling watching a car fly past you at sonic speeds, just a few feet away from you.
What do you get if you combine the variety of tracks rallying provides, the constant flow of a track from NASCAR races, and the bumper-to-bumper action of Formula 1? You get IndyCar. INDYCAR, LLC overlooks IndyCar racing, a racing discipline that features cars that are sort of similar to Formula 1 cars, but different where it counts; under the hood. IndyCar racecars also have a much more generalized built, compared to the variations you can find in Formula 1. But while Formula 1’s racing is more or less the same the world over, IndyCar prides itself for taking on any challenge thrown its way, and tunes their cars specifically for each racetrack and race location.
If you’re more interested in the skill requirements for racing motorbikes rather than cars, Moto GP is for you. Here, drivers don’t get to sit back all comfy in their leather seats and let a steering column do all the work. You’ve got to lean in if you want to get ahead. You’ve got to elegantly graze the ground, almost falling off, if you plan to come out at the top. And as these powerful bikes require such careful handling, even the lightest mistake could end up with the driver flying off into Space. A morbid possibility that makes these races all the more thrilling to witness in person.
Those were the major differing motorsports that you might be interested in. There are of course, subclasses you can use to narrow down just what kind of racing you would be most interested in, but any race within these motorsports is going to be a fun time. In the meantime, if you would like to read up some more on the history of racing cars, we have a post on the most popular racing cars of the 1950’s. Or perhaps you might want to learn more about rallying, in which case take a look at our post on an introduction to rallying racing.