Portal:Motorsport

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The Motorsport Portal

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Motorsport (also known as auto racing or motor racing) has existed almost as long as the automobile itself. It originated in France in 1894 with a "reliability test" between Paris and Rouen that was organised by Le Petit Journal. The following year saw the first stage race take place between Paris and Bordeaux and automotive competition was born.

Motorsport can take place on- and off-road on purpose-built closed road circuits, temporary street circuits, ovals, and special stages on asphalt, gravel or snow. The variety of machinery is even wider and ranges from vehicles that are derived from production road cars – such as touring cars and GT cars – to high-tech purpose-built formula cars and GP motorcycles. See the section on Racing disciplines below. Competition is not confined to conventional first-past-the-flag races, but can include speed contests (such as drag racing), time trials (such as rallying) and skill tests (such as motorcycle trials).

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The 2005 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on June 19, 2005 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race was highly controversial because only six cars competed; all fourteen of the cars using Michelin tyres retired after the parade lap due to a safety issue with their tyres and the newly resurfaced speedway, leaving only the teams using Bridgestone rubber — Ferrari, Minardi and Jordan — to start.

Following several tyre failures before the race, most spectacularly on Ralf Schumacher's Toyota during Friday practice, Michelin advised its seven customer teams that they could not safely race on the tyres provided for them. The FIA, the sport's governing body, refused to allow a chicane to be installed, maintaining that such rule changes would be grossly unfair to the Bridgestone-shod teams, who had come prepared with properly working tyres. The Michelin teams, unable to come to a compromise with the FIA did not participate in the race on safety grounds.

Of the six competitors, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was the eventual winner. The result significantly boosted his championship standing, placing him third overall — no driver above him in the table took part in the race. The situation created enormous negative publicity for the sport of Formula One, especially in America, a market in which Formula One has struggled to establish itself over the last 20 years.

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Alain Marie Pascal Prost OBE, (born February 24, 1955 in Saint-Chamond, France), is a retired French racing driver and 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993 Formula One World Champion. He took his first of 51 race victories at his home Grand Prix in France in 1981 for Renault but also won races for McLaren, Ferrari and Williams. In terms of World Drivers' Championship titles, only Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher have been more successful than the Frenchman in the sport's history.

Prost employed a smooth, relaxed style behind the wheel, deliberately modelling himself on personal heroes like Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. He would start races conservatively, managing the wear on his brakes and tyres, leaving himself in a position to challenge at the end of the race. As a result of this approach he was nicknamed 'The Professor'. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Prost formed a fierce rivalry with Ayrton Senna, who joined him at McLaren in 1988. The two had a series of controversial races, including a collision at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix that gave Prost his third Drivers' Championship. A year later at the same venue they collided again and Senna won the title. After a dismal 1991 with Ferrari and a sabbatical in 1992, Prost joined Williams, where he dominated the season before finally retiring at the end of the season. In 1997 Prost took over the French Ligier team, running it as Prost Grand Prix until it went bankrupt in 2001. In 2006, Prost started his fourth year in the Andros Trophy, which is an Ice Racing competition.

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Dakar 2006 Kleinschmidt Volkswagen.jpg A Volkswagen Race Touareg driven by Jutta Kleinschimdt in the 2006 Dakar Rally, being filmed from a helicopter

Quotes

  • "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.

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Racing disciplines

  • 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).

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