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After some racing success in Australia, Webber moved to the UK in 1995 to further his motorsports career. He continued to win, although he gained his biggest headlines while driving for the Mercedes-Benz sports car squad at Le Mans in 1999 where he had two spectacular accidents during practice and warmup in which an aerodynamic fault caused the car to somersault off the Mulsanne straight. After Mercedes' withdrawal from the race, Webber began a partnership with fellow Australian Paul Stoddart, at that time owner of the European racing Formula 3000 team, which eventually took them both into Formula One when Stoddart bought the Minardi team.
Webber made his debut in Formula One in 2002, scoring Minardi's first points in three years at his and Stoddart's home race. After an impressive first season, Jaguar Racing took him on as lead driver. During two years with the generally uncompetitive team Webber several times qualified on the front two rows of the grid and outperformed his team mates. He joined the former championship winning Williams team in 2005, for whom he achieved his best finish in Formula One to date; a third place at the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix. He has since equalled his third placing at the 2007 European Grand Prix.
Webber is a keen sportsman away from the track. He has won the annual F1 Pro-Am tennis tournament in Barcelona three times and has recently set up the 'Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge' trek across Tasmania to raise funds for cancer charities.
"The first time I fired up a car, felt the engine shudder and the wheel come to life in my hands, I was hooked. It was a feeling I can't describe. I still get it every time I get into a race car." – Mario Andretti.
"You do things, you f**k people, it's racing." – Niki Lauda.
"It doesn't matter if you're in a wheelchair or have healthy legs. If you have the will to do something, you can get it done. I race the same as anyone else does; I just don't use my feet. And, I never give up." - Evan Evans, the first paraplegic competitor to win a professional off-road racing title.
...that Andy Papathanassiou, a former college football player who was the first person hired as a NASCAR pit crew coordinator, started use of trained athletes to cut pit stop times from 19 down to 13 seconds?
Formula racing refers to various forms of racing that use open wheeled single seaters, from Formula One to Formula Ford. Wherever there is motor racing, there will often be some form of formula racing. Some formulae use a single design of chassis and engine, while others allow a lot of technical freedom.
Stock cars race primarily on oval circuits and are very popular in the United States, where the major championships are run by NASCAR. The cars are built to very strict regulations with "silhouette" body shells that resemble production road car models. Major events include the Daytona 500.
Touring cars fall into two main categories of machinery based on production road cars. Some classes – such as the World Touring Car Championship – are heavily production-based with limited modifications, while others – like the DTM – use racing chassis and components with bodywork that mimics the equivalent road cars.
Sports car racing is synonymous with endurance racing, in which two or more drivers share each car during the course of a long race. Races in a series typically last around three to four hours, but there are many one-off events that can last for 12 or even 24 hours or cover a set distance such as 1000km. There are two distinct types of sports cars that often share events (each type being divided into classes). Sports prototypes have mid-engined chassis that are fully enclosed in aerodynamically efficient bodywork. Their cockpits can be open or enclosed in a canopy. Sports prototypes are most closely associated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and notable examples include the Audi R10 and Porsche 962. GT cars (grand tourers) are production-based sports cars that may be mid-, rear- or front-engined. Notable examples include the Viper GTS-R, the 911 GT2 and the Maserati MC12.
Kart racing is the first step on the career ladder for most young aspiring drivers. They are constructed with a small, flat chassis, small wheels, a single seat and almost no bodywork. They are powered by small two-stroke engines. Most karting formulae permit entrants as young as seven or eight years old, who will hope to graduate into entry-level single-seater formula racing in their late teens.
Rallying takes place on closed roads of asphalt, gravel, mud, or snow. The vehicles are usually modified road cars or production-derived, often with 4WD. Events comprise a series of point-to-point time trials in which competitors begin each timed "stage" at intervals. The highest level is the World Rally Championship; notable events include the Dakar Rally.
Drifting is a relatively recent form of motorsport that originated in Japan. Competitors have to induce a controlled rear-wheel slide during their competition runs and are judged according to a number of criteria. Depending on the nature of the competition, the drivers may perform on track individually or compete together in a form of "race".
Drag racing is a performance contest between two competitors in similar or identical machinery on a straight dragstrip measuring from 660-1320 ft (201-402 m) in length, on which they accelerate from a standing start. The leading category is Top Fuel, whose engines run on an alcohol-based mixture to produce over 8,000 bhp (6,000 kW). They can cover 1000 ft (305 m) in under 4 seconds with a peak speed exceeding 320 mph (515 kph).