|Highest governing body||FIA|
|First contested||April 28, 1887|
Almost as soon as automobiles had been invented, races of various sorts were organised, with the first recorded as early as 1867. Many of the earliest events were effectively reliability trials, aimed at proving these new machines were a practical mode of transport, but soon became an important way from competing makers to demonstrate their machines. By the 1930s specialist racing cars had developed.
There are now numerous different categories, each with different rules and regulations.
- 1 History
- 2 Categories
- 3 Use of flags
- 4 Accidents
- 5 Racing-car setup
- 6 Racing driver
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The first race
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The first prearranged match race of two self-powered road vehicles over a prescribed route occurred at 4:30 A.M. on August 30, 1867, between Ashton-under-Lyne and Old Trafford, a distance of eight miles. It was won by the carriage of Isaac Watt Boulton, one of six he said he had run over the years, perhaps driven by his 22-year-old son, James W. The race was against Daniel Adamson's carriage, likely the one made for Mr. Schmidt and perhaps driven by Schmidt. The reports do not indicate who was driving, since both were violating the red-flag law then fully in force. Boulton's carriage was developed from a scrapped John Bridge Adams light-rail vehicle. These were solid fired steam carriages. This event and the details of the vehicles are recorded in the contemporary press, The Engineer, and in Fletcher's books.
The Wisconsin legislature passed an act in 1875 offering a substantial purse for the first US motor race, which was run on July 16, 1878, over a 200-mile course from Green Bay to Appleton, Oshkosh, Waupon, Watertown, Fort Atkinson and Janesville, then turning north and ending in Madison. Only two actually competed: the Oshkosh and the Green Bay (the machines were referred to by their town of origin). This is examined and illustrated in detail in The Great Race of 1878 by Richard Backus, Farm Collector, May/June 2004.
Early motor competition
Internal combustion auto racing events began soon after the construction of the first successful gasoline-fueled automobiles. The first organized contest was on April 28, 1887, by the chief editor of Paris publication Le Vélocipède, Monsieur Fossier. It ran 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Neuilly Bridge to the Bois de Boulogne. It was won by Georges Bouton of the De Dion-Bouton Company in a car he had constructed with Albert, the Comte de Dion, but as he was the only competitor to show up, it is rather difficult to call it a race.
Another solo event occurred in 1891 when Auguste Doriot and Louis Rigoulot of Peugeot drove their gasoline-fueled Type 3 Quadricycle in the bicycle race from Paris–Brest–Paris. By the time they reached Brest, the winning cyclist, Charles Terront, was already back in Paris. In order to publicly prove the reliability and performance of the Quadricycle, Armand Peugeot had persuaded the organiser, Pierre Giffard of Le Petit Journal, to use his network of monitors and marshalls to vouchsafe and report the vehicle's performance. The intended distance of 1200 km had never been achieved by a motorised vehicle, it being about three times further than the record set by Leon Serpollet from Paris to Lyon.
Paris–Rouen: the world's first motoring contest
On July 22, 1894, the Parisian magazine Le Petit Journal organized what is considered to be the world's first motoring competition, from Paris to Rouen. Sporting events were a tried and tested form of publicity stunt and circulation booster. Pierre Giffard, the paper's editor, promoted it as a Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux (Competition for Horseless Carriages) that was "not dangerous, easy to drive, and cheap during the journey." Thus, it blurred the distinctions between a reliability trial, a general event, and a race. One hundred and two competitors paid a 10-franc entrance fee.
Sixty-nine cars started the 50 km (31 mi) selection event that would show which entrants would be allowed to start the main event, the 127 km (79 mi) race from Paris to Rouen. The entrants ranged from serious manufacturers like Peugeot, Panhard, or De Dion to amateur owners; only 25 were selected for the main race.
The race started from Porte Maillot and went through the Bois de Boulogne. Count Jules-Albert de Dion was first into Rouen after 6 hours and 48 minutes at an average speed of 19 km/h. He finished 3'30" ahead of Albert Lemaître (Peugeot), followed by Auguste Doriot (Peugeot) at 16'30", René Panhard (Panhard) at 33'30" and Émile Levassor (Panhard) at 55'30". The official winners were Peugeot and Panhard as cars were judged on their speed, handling and safety characteristics. De Dion's steam car needed a stoker, which was forbidden.
The Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race of June 1895 has sometimes been described as the "first motor race", despite the 1894 event being decided by speed and finishing order of the eligible racers.[dubious ] The first to arrive was Émile Levassor in his Panhard-Levassor 1205cc model. He completed the course (1,178 km or 732 miles) in 48 hours and 47 minutes, finishing nearly six hours before the runner-up. The official winner was Paul Koechlin in a Peugeot. Nine of twenty-two starters finished the course.
The first American automobile race is generally held to be the Thanksgiving Day Chicago Times-Herald race of November 28, 1895. Press coverage of the event first aroused significant American interest in the automobile. The 54.36-mile (87.48 km) course ran from the south side of the city, north along the lakefront to Evanston, Illinois, and back again. Frank Duryea won the race in 7 hours and 53 minutes, beating the other five entrants.
The first regular auto racing venue was Nice, France, run in late March 1897, as a "Speed Week". To fill out the schedule, most types of racing events were invented here, including the first hill climb (Nice – La Turbie) and a sprint that was, in spirit, the first drag race.
An international competition, between nations rather than individuals, began with the Gordon Bennett Cup in auto racing.
The Parisian artist Ernest Montaut and his wife, Marguerite, faithfully documented the rapidly changing face of motorised transportation in Europe. They produced large numbers of posters and prints published by Mabileau et Cie, covering racing events involving motorcars, aircraft, dirigibles and speedboats. These images formed a valuable contribution to the history of transport, and particularly to its racing aspect.
With auto construction and racing dominated by France, the French automobile club ACF staged a number of major international races, usually from or to Paris, connecting with another major city, in France or elsewhere in Europe.
The very successful early European rally races ended in 1903, when Marcel Renault was involved in a fatal accident near Angoulême in the Paris–Madrid race. Nine fatalities caused the French government to stop the race in Bordeaux and ban open-road racing.
In 1907, the Peking to Paris race covered 9,317 miles over some of the roughest terrain on Earth. Five cars took part in the race, which was won by the Italian Prince Scipione Borghese in a 7,433 cc (453.6 cu in) 35/45 hp model Itala.
The longest automobile race in history, with Paris as the finish line, was the 1908 New York to Paris Race. Six teams from France, Italy, Germany, and the United States competed with three teams actually reaching Paris. The American Thomas Flyer driven by George Schuster was declared the winner of the epic 22,000 mile race in 169 days
The first purpose-built racing circuits
The Milwaukee Mile is the second-oldest motor racing track in the world still in existence, with racing being held there since 1903. It was not purposely built for motor racing, however. It started as a one-mile (1.6 km) horse-racing track in the 19th century. The first closed-circuit automobile race was held on July 25, 1899 at the Branford Park horse track in New Haven, Connecticut, and was won by Hiram Percy Maxim in a Pope Columbia.
Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, is the oldest racing venue, and one of the most prestigious, in the United States. It was built in the late 1800s at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Iowa. It was built for a horse-racing track, just like the Milwaukee Mile. Although sanctioned races were not held until 1914, one automobile race was held in 1901. The race was not good because of the wind; but in 1961, the first Knoxville Nationals was won by Roy Robbins. Now the Nationals are sanctioned by the World of Outlaws.
From 1903 to 1914, a one-mile dirt oval track was run on Brunots Island, just south of Pittsburgh on the Ohio River. Louis Chevrolet won the AAA Champion car in 1905. On September 10, 1907, Rex Reinersten was fatally injured in a crash there. In 1916, Chevrolet won the first Universal Films Trophy at the mile and an eighth Uniontown Speedway board track, south of Pittsburgh in Hopwood, Pennsylvania.
Brooklands, in Surrey, was the first purpose-built motor racing venue, opening in June 1907. It featured a 4.43 km (2.75 mi) concrete track with high-speed banked corners. Brooklands was also a centre of the aviation industry, with Vickers setting up a factory and aerodrome there during World War I. The racing circuit was closed in 1939 as war-time aircraft production took over. Damage done to the track during World War II meant the track never reopened for racing.
Competition gradually spread to other parts of the British Empire. The first competition in India was held in 1905 by the Motor Union of Western India. It ran from Delhi to Mumbai, (Delhi–Bombay trials 1905) a distance of 810 miles (1,300 km), in an attempt to expose India to the automobile and test its suitability for Indian conditions. Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, gave his consent to the event.
One of the oldest existing purpose-built automobile racing circuits in the United States, still in use, is the 2.5-mile (4.02 km)-long Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, built from March to August 1909, when it first opened for racing. It is the largest capacity sports venue of any variety worldwide, with a top capacity of some 257,000+ seated spectators. The oldest asphalt-paved oval track in the United States is Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut, once known as the "Indianapolis of the East."
The 1930s saw the transformation from high-priced road cars into pure racers, with Alfa Romeo, Auto Union, Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, and Mercedes-Benz constructing streamlined vehicles with engines producing up to 450 kW (603 hp), aided by multiple-stage supercharging. From 1928 to 1930 and again in 1934–1936, the maximum weight permitted was 750 kg (1,653 lb), a rule diametrically opposed to current racing regulations. Extensive use of aluminum alloys was required to achieve light weight, and in the case of the Mercedes, the paint was removed to satisfy the weight limitation, producing the famous Silver Arrows. NASCAR was founded by Bill France, Sr. on February 21, 1948, with the help of several other drivers of the time. The first NASCAR "Strictly Stock" race ever was held on June 19, 1949, at Daytona Beach, Florida. The Strictly Stock division was put on hold as American automobile manufacturers were unable to produce family sedans quickly enough to keep up with post-World War II demand.
After the Second World War, sports car racing emerged as a distinct form of racing with its own classic races, and, from 1953, its own FIA-sanctioned World Championship. NASCAR's Strictly Stock Division was renamed the "Grand National" division beginning in the 1950 season. Over a period of more than a decade, modifications for both safety and performance were allowed, and by the mid-1960s, the vehicles were purpose-built race cars with a stock-appearing body.
From 1962, sports cars temporarily took a back seat to GT cars, with the FIA replacing the World Championship for Sports Cars with the International Championship for GT Manufacturers. Through the 1960s, as superspeedways were built and old dirt tracks were paved, the number of dirt races was reduced.
A breed of powerful hybrids appeared in the 1950s and 1960s and raced on both sides of the Atlantic, featuring European chassis and large American engines – from the early Allard cars via hybrids, such as Lotus 19s fitted with large engines, through to the AC Cobra. The combination of mostly British chassis and American V8 engines gave rise to the Can-Am series in the 1960s and 1970s. This series, based in the United States and Canada, featured lightweight prototype sports cars fitted with large, powerful production-based engines that produced speeds in excess of 200 mph. Clubmans provided much entertainment at club-racing level from the 1960s into the 1990s, and John Webb revived interest in big sports prototypes with Thundersports in the 1980s. Group 4 Grand Touring Cars and Group 5 Special Production Cars became the premier form of sports car racing from 1976, with prototypes going into a general decline apart from Porsche 936 domination at Le Mans and a lower-key series of races for smaller two-litre Group 6 prototypes. The last NASCAR race on a dirt track was held on September 30, 1970 at the half-mile State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh, North Carolina. From 1972 through 2003, NASCAR's premier series was called the Winston Cup Series, sponsored by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company cigarette brand Winston. The changes that resulted from RJR's involvement, as well as the reduction of the schedule from 48 to 31 races a year, established 1972 as the beginning of NASCAR's "modern era".
In Europe, the FIA adopted the ACO GTP rules virtually unchanged and sanctioned the Group C World Endurance Championship (or World Sportscar Championship), featuring high-tech closed-cockpit prototypes. In the USA, the IMSA Camel GTP series boasted close competition between huge fields of manufacturer-backed teams and privateer squads – the cars were technically similar to Group Cs but used a sliding scale of weights and engine capacities to try to limit performance. The FIA attempted to make Group C into a virtual "two seater Grand Prix" format in the early 1990s, with engine rules in common with F1, short race distances, and a schedule dovetailing with that of the F1 rounds. The IMSA GT Championship had been prototype-based since 1983, with less emphasis on production cars. Australian Production Car Championship was first contested in 1987, with the inaugural champion determined from the results of two races held at the Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria on September 27. The first World Touring Car Championship, which was open to Group A Touring Cars, was held in 1987 concurrent to the long-running European Touring Car Championship (ETCC). Additional rounds were held outside Europe at Bathurst in Australia, Calder Park Raceway in Australia (using both the road course and the then-newly constructed Thunderdome), Wellington in New Zealand and Mount Fuji in Japan. The Drivers Championship was won by Roberto Ravaglia in a BMW M3, and the Entrants Championship was won by the Eggenberger Texaco Ford No 7 entry, which was a Ford Sierra. Winston Cup Series underwent a large boom in popularity in the 1990s. This coincided with a decline of popularity in American Championship Car Racing. The FISA decided to separate the rally cars into three classes: Group N (production cars), Group A (modified production cars), and Group B (modified sport cars). Group B was introduced by the FIA in 1982 as a replacement for both Group 4 (modified grand touring) and Group 5 (touring prototype) cars.
The IMSA GT Series evolved into the American Le Mans Series, which ran its first season in 1999. The European races eventually became the closely related Le Mans Series, both of which mix prototypes and GTs. The SCCA World Challenge consists of a one-hour race for each round, combining three classes: GT (Chevrolet Corvette, Aston Martin DB9, etc.), "GTS" (Acura TSX, BMW 3-series, etc.; replaced the former touring car class), and Touring Car (a "showroom stock" class similar to Grand Am's Continental Challenge). NASCAR was becoming increasingly dominant, and the IndyCar Series' split from CART in 1996 put more emphasis on ovals regarding domestic open-wheel racing.
The best-known variety of single-seater racing, Formula One, which hosts the famous Monaco Grand Prix, involves an annual World Championship for drivers and constructors.
In single-seater (open-wheel), the wheels are not covered, and the cars often have aerofoil wings front and rear to produce downforce and enhance adhesion to the track. In Europe and Asia, open-wheeled racing is commonly referred to as "Formula", with appropriate hierarchical suffixes. In North America, the "Formula" terminology is not followed (with the exception of F1). The sport is usually arranged to follow an international format (such as F1), a regional format (such as the Formula 3 Euro Series), and/or a domestic, or country-specific, format (such as the German Formula 3 championship, or the British Formula Ford).
In North America, the cars used in the National Championship (currently the IndyCar Series, and previously CART) have traditionally been similar though less sophisticated than F1 cars, with more restrictions on technology aimed at controlling costs. The series' most famous race is the Indianapolis 500.
The other major international single-seater racing series is GP2 (formerly known as Formula 3000 and Formula Two). Regional series include Formula Nippon and Formula V6 Asia (specifically in Asia), Formula Renault 3.5 (also known as the World Series by Renault, succession series of World Series by Nissan), Formula Three, Formula Palmer Audi and Formula Atlantic. In 2009, the FIA Formula Two Championship brought about the revival of the F2 series. Domestic, or country-specific, series include Formula Three and Formula Renault, with the leading introductory series being Formula Ford.
Single-seater racing is not limited merely to professional teams and drivers. There exist many amateur racing clubs. In the UK, the major club series are the Monoposto Racing Club, BRSCC F3 (Formerly ClubF3, formerly ARP F3), Formula Vee and Club Formula Ford. Each series caters for a section of the market, with some primarily providing low-cost racing, while others aim for an authentic experience using the same regulations as the professional series (BRSCC F3).
There are other categories of single-seater racing, including kart racing, which employs a small, low-cost machine on small tracks. Many of the current top drivers began their careers in karts. Formula Ford represents the most popular first open-wheel category for up-and-coming drivers stepping up from karts. The series is still the preferred option, as it has introduced an aero package and slicks, allowing the junior drivers to gain experience in a race car with dynamics closer F1. The Star Mazda Series is another entry-level series.
Students at colleges and universities can also take part in single-seater racing through the Formula SAE competition, which involves designing and building a single-seater car in a multidisciplinary team and racing it at the competition. This also develops other soft skills, such as teamwork, while promoting motorsport and engineering.
The world's first all-female Formula racing team was created in 2006. The group was an assemblage of drivers from different racing disciplines and formed for an MTV reality pilot, which was shot at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
After 25 years away from the sport, former Formula 2 champion Jonathan Palmer reopened the F2 category again; most drivers have graduated from the Formula Palmer Audi series. The category is officially registered as the FIA Formula Two championship. Most rounds have two races and are support races to the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Touring car racing
Touring car racing is a style of road racing that is run with production-derived race cars. It often features full-contact racing due to the small speed differentials and large grids.
The major touring car championships conducted worldwide are the Supercars Championship (Australia), British Touring Car Championship, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), and the World Touring Car Championship. The European Touring Car Cup is a one-day event open to Super 2000 specification touring cars from Europe's many national championships.
The Sports Car Club of America's SPEED World Challenge Touring Car and GT championships are dominant in North America. America's historic Trans-Am Series is undergoing a period of transition, but is still the longest-running road racing series in the U.S. The National Auto Sport Association also provides a venue for amateurs to compete in home-built factory-derived vehicles on various local circuits.
Sports car racing
In sports car racing, production-derived versions of sports cars, also known as grand tourers (GTs), and purpose-built sports prototype cars compete within their respective classes on closed circuits. The premier championship series of sports car racing is the FIA World Endurance Championship. The main series for GT car racing is the FIA GT1 World Championship. There is also the FIA GT3 European Championship as well as the less powerful GT4 European Cup. Previously, an intermediate FIA GT2 European Championship existed, but the FIA dropped it to cut costs. Other major GT championships include the Japanese Super GT championship and the International GT Open for GT2 and GT3 cars. There are also national GT championships using mainly GT3 and GT4 cars featuring professional and amateur drivers alike.
Sports prototypes, unlike GT cars, do not rely on road-legal cars as a base. They are closed-wheel and often closed-cockpit purpose-built race cars intended mainly for endurance racing. They have much lower weight and more down force compared to GT cars, making them much faster. They are raced in the 24 hours of Le Mans (held annually since 1923) and in the (European) Le Mans series, Asian Le Mans Series and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. These cars are referred to as LMP (Le Mans prototype) cars with LMP1 being run mainly by manufacturers and the slightly less powerful LMP2 cars run by privateer teams. All three Le Mans Series run GT cars in addition to Le Mans Prototypes; these cars have different restrictions than the FIA GT cars.
Another prototype and GT racing championship exists in the United States; the Grand-Am, which began in 2000, sanctions its own endurance series, the Rolex Sports Car Series, which consists of slower and lower-cost race cars compared to LMP and FIA GT cars. The Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series announced a merger between the two series forming the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starting in 2014.
These races are often conducted over long distances, at least 1,000 km (621 mi), and cars are driven by teams of two or more drivers, switching every few hours. Due to the performance difference between production-based sports cars and purpose-built sports prototypes, one race usually involves several racing classes, each fighting for their own championship.
Famous sports car races include the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 24 Hours of Spa-Franchorchamps, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, and the 1,000-mile (1,600 km) Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. There is also the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring on the infamous Nordschleife track and the Dubai 24 Hour, which is aimed at GT3 and below cars with a mixture of professional and pro-am drivers.
Production-car racing, otherwise known as "showroom stock" in the US, is an economical and rules-restricted version of touring-car racing, mainly used to restrict costs. Numerous production racing categories are based on particular makes of cars.
Most series follow the Group N regulation with a few exceptions. There are several different series that are run all over the world, most notably, Japan's Super Taikyu and IMSA's Firehawk Series, which ran in the 1980s and 1990s all over the United States.
One-make, or single marque, championships often employ production-based cars from a single manufacturer or even a single model from a manufacturer's range. There are numerous notable one-make formulae from various countries and regions, some of which – such as the Porsche Supercup and, previously, IROC – have fostered many distinct national championships. Single marque series are often found at club level, to which the production-based cars, limited modifications, and close parity in performance are very well suited. Some of the better-known single-make series are the Mini 7 Championship (Europe's longest-running one make championship), the Radical European Masters, John Cooper Mini Challenge, Clio Cup, Ginettas, Caterhams, BMWs, and MX5s. There are also single-chassis single seater formulae, such as Formula Renault and Formula BMW, usually as "feeder" series for "senior" race formula (in the fashion of farm teams).
Stock car racing
In North America, stock car racing is the most popular form of auto racing. Primarily raced on oval tracks, stock cars vaguely resemble production cars, but are in fact purpose-built racing machines that are built to tight specifications and also called Silhouette racing cars.
The largest stock car racing governing body is NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing). NASCAR's premier series is the Sprint Cup Series, its most famous races being the Daytona 500, the Southern 500, the Coca-Cola 600, and the Brickyard 400. NASCAR also runs several feeder series, including the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series (a pickup truck racing series). The series conduct races across the entire continental United States. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series conducts races across Canada and the NASCAR Toyota Series conducts races across Mexico.
NASCAR also governs several smaller regional series, such as the Whelen Modified Tour. Modified cars are best described as open-wheel cars. Modified cars have no parts related to the stock vehicle for which they are named after. A number of modified cars display a "manufacturer's" logo and "vehicle name", yet use components produced by another automobile manufacturer.
There are also other stock car governing bodies, most notably the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA).
In the UK, British Stock car racing is also referred to as "Short Circuit Racing". This takes place on shale or tarmac tracks – usually around 1/4 mile long. The governing bodies for the sport are the Oval Racing Council (ORC) and BriSCA. Both bodies are made up of individual stadium promoters. There are around 35 tracks in the UK and upwards of 7000 active drivers. The sport is split into three basic divisions – distinguished by the rules regarding car contact during racing. The most famous championship is the BriSCA F1 Stock Cars. Full-contact formulas include Bangers, Bombers and Rookie Bangers – and racing features Demolitions Derbies, Figure of Eight racing and Oval Racing.
Semi Contact Formulas include BriSCA F1, F2 and Superstox – where bumpers are used tactically.
Non-contact formulas include National Hot Rods, Stock Rods and Lightning Rods.
UK Stock car racing started in the 1950s and grew rapidly through the 1960s and 1970s.
Rallying at international and most national championship levels involves two classes of homologated road-legal production-based cars; Group N production cars and more modified Group A cars. Cars compete on closed public roads or off-road areas on a point-to-point format where participants and their co-drivers "rally" to a set of points, leaving in regular intervals from start points. A rally is typically conducted over a number of "special stages" on any terrain, which entrants are often allowed to scout beforehand at reduced speeds compiling detailed shorthand descriptions of the track or road as they go. These detailed descriptions are known as pace notes. During the actual rally, the co-driver reads the pace notes aloud (using an in-helmet intercom system) to the driver, enabling them to complete each stage as quickly as possible. Competition is based on lowest total elapsed time over the course of an event's special stages, including penalties.
The top series is the World Rally Championship (WRC), first contested in 1973, but there are also regional championships, and many countries have their own national championships. Some famous rallies include the Monte Carlo Rally, Rally Argentina, Rally Finland and Rally GB. Another famous event (actually best described as a rally raid) is the Paris-Dakar Rally, conceived in 1978. There are also many smaller, club level, categories of rallies, which are popular with amateurs, making up the "grass roots" of motor sports. Cars at this level may not comply fully with the requirements of group A or group N homologation. Other major rally events include the British Rally Championship, Intercontinental Rally Challenge, African Rally Championship, Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and endurance rally events like the Dakar Rally.
The Targa Tasmania, held on the Australian island state of Tasmania and run annually since 1992, takes its name from the Targa Florio, a former motoring event held on the island of Sicily. The competition concept is drawn directly from the best features of the Mille Miglia, the Coupe des Alpes and the Tour de Corse. Similarly named events around the world include the Targa Newfoundland based in Canada, Targa West based in Western Australia, Targa New Zealand and other smaller events.
In drag racing, the objective is to complete a given straight-line distance, from a standing start, ahead of a vehicle in a parallel lane. This distance is traditionally ¼ mile (400 m), though ⅛ mile (200 m) has become popular since the 1990s. The vehicles may or may not be given the signal to start at the same time, depending on the class of racing. Vehicles range from the everyday car to the purpose-built dragster. Speeds and elapsed time differ from class to class. Average street cars cover the ¼ mile in 12 to 16 seconds, whereas a top fuel dragster takes 4.5 seconds or less, reaching speeds of up to 530 km/h (329 mph). Drag racing was organized as a sport by Wally Parks in the early 1950s through the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association). The NHRA was formed to discourage street racing.
When launching, a top fuel dragster will accelerate at 3.4 g (33 m/s²), and when braking parachutes are deployed the deceleration is 4 g (39 m/s²), more than the Space Shuttle experiences. A top fuel car can be heard over 8 miles (13 km) away and can generate a reading from 1.5 to 3.9 on the Richter scale.
Drag racing is two cars head-to-head, the winner proceeding to the next round. Professional classes are all first to the finish line wins. Sportsman racing is handicapped (slower car getting a head start) using an index (a lowest e.t. allowed), and cars running under (quicker than) their index "break out" and lose. The slowest cars, bracket racers, are also handicapped, but rather than an index, they use a dial-in.
In off-road racing, various classes of specially modified vehicles, including cars, compete in races through off-road environments. In North America these races often take place in the desert, such as the famous Baja 1000. Another format for off-road racing happens on closed-course short course tracks such as Crandon International Off-Road Raceway. In the 1980s and 1990s, short course was extended to racing inside stadiums in the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group; this format was revived by Robby Gordon in 2013 with his Speed Energy Formula Off-Road series.
In Europe, "offroad" refers to events such as autocross or rallycross, while desert races and rally-raids such as the Paris-Dakar, Master Rallye or European "bajas" are called "cross-country rallies."
The modern kart was invented by Art Ingels, a fabricator at the legendary Indianapolis-car manufacturer Kurtis-Kraft, in Southern California in 1956. Ingels took a small chainsaw engine and mounted it to a simple tube-frame chassis weighing less than 100 lb. Ingels, and everyone else who drove the kart, were startled at its performance capabilities. The sport soon blossomed in Southern California, and quickly spread around the world. Although often seen as the entry point for serious racers into the sport, kart racing, or karting, can be an economical way for amateurs to try racing and is also a fully fledged international sport in its own right. A large proportion of professional racing drivers began in karts, often from a very young age, such as Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. Several former motorcycle champions have also taken up the sport, notably Wayne Rainey, who was paralysed in a racing accident and now races a hand-controlled kart. As one of the cheapest ways to race, karting is seeing its popularity grow worldwide.
Despite their diminutive size, karting's most powerful class, superkart, can have a power-to-weight ratio of 440 hp/tonne.
As modern motor racing is centered on modern technology with a lots of corporate sponsors and politics involved, historical racing tends to be the opposite. Because it is based on a particular era it is more hobbyist oriented, reducing corporate sponsorship and politics. Events are regulated to only allow cars of a certain era to participate. The only modern equipment used is related to safety and timing. A historical event can be of a number of different motorsport disciplines. Notably some of the most famous events of them all are the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival in Britain and Monterey Historic in the United States. Championships range from "grass root" Austin Seven racing to the FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix Championship for classic Formula One chassis.
While there are several professional teams and drivers in historical racing, this branch of auto sport tends to be contested by wealthy car owners and is thus more amateur and less competitive in its approach.
- See also Category:Auto racing by type
- Banger racing
- Board track racing
- Demolition derby
- Dirt speedway racing
- Dirt track racing
- Drifting (motorsport)
- High Performance Drivers Education
- Ice racing
- Legends car racing
- Midget car racing
- Mini Sprint
- Monster truck
- Pickup truck racing
- Road racing
- Short track motor racing
- Solar car racing
- Sprint car racing
- Wheelstand Competition
Use of flags
In many types of auto races, particularly those held on closed courses, flags are displayed to indicate the general status of the track and to communicate instructions to competitors. While individual series have different rules, and the flags have changed from the first years (e.g., red used to start a race), these are generally accepted.
|Flag||Displayed from start tower||Displayed from observation post|
|The session has started or resumed after a full course caution or stop.||End of hazardous section of track.|
|Full course caution condition for ovals. On road courses, it means a local area of caution. Depending on the type of racing, either two yellow flags will be used for a full course caution or a sign with 'SC' (Safety car) will be used as the field follows the pace/safety car on track and no cars may pass.||Local caution condition —no cars may pass at the particular corner where being displayed. When Stationary indicates hazard off-course, when Waving indicates hazard on-course.|
|Debris, fluid, or other hazard on the track surface.||Debris, fluid, or other hazard on the track surface.|
|The car with the indicated number must pit for consultation.||The session is halted, all cars on course must return to pit lane. May also be seen combined with a green flag to indicate oil on track, typically referred to as a 'pickle' flag combination.|
|The car with the indicated number has mechanical trouble and must pit.|
|The driver of the car with the indicated number has been penalized for misbehaviour.|
|The driver of the car with the indicated number is disqualified or will not be scored until they report to the pits.|
|The car should give way to faster traffic. Depending on the series this may be a command or merely advisory.||A car is being advised to give way to faster traffic approaching.|
|The session is stopped. All cars must halt on the track or return to pit lane.|
|Depending on the series, either one lap remains or a slow vehicle is on the track.||A slow vehicle is on the track.|
|The session has concluded.|
In auto racing, the racing setup or car setup is the set of adjustments made to the vehicle to optimize its behaviour (performance, handling, reliability, etc.). Adjustments can occur in suspensions, brakes, transmissions, engines, tires, and many others.
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Racing drivers at the highest levels are usually paid by the team, or by sponsors, and can command very substantial salaries.
Contrary to what may be popularly assumed, racing drivers as a group do not have unusually good reflexes. During countless physiological (and psychological) evaluations of professional racing drivers, the two characteristics that stand out are racers' near-obsessive need to control their surroundings (the psychological aspect), and an unusual ability to process fast-moving information (physiological). In this, researchers have noted a strong correlation between racers' psychological profiles and those of fighter pilots. In tests comparing racers to members of the general public, the greater the complexity of the information processing matrix, the greater the speed gap between racers and the public. Due partly to the performance capabilities of modern racing cars, racing drivers require a high level of fitness, focus and the ability to concentrate at high levels for long periods in an inherently difficult environment. The racing drivers mainly complain about pains in the lumbar, shoulder and neck regions.
In particular, racing cars such as formula cars and sports prototypes that generate a substantial amount of downforce are able to corner at speeds that impose extremely large g-forces on drivers. Formula 1 drivers routinely experience g-loadings in excess of 4.5 g.
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Media related to Automobile racing at Wikimedia Commons
- Sanctioning bodies
- Motor Sports Association (MSA UK)
- American Le Mans Series (ALMS)
- Indy Racing League (IRL)
- World Rally Championship (WRC)
- Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)
- Grand American Road Racing Association
- International Hot Rod Association (IHRA)
- International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)
- National Auto Sport Association
- National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR)
- National Hot Rod Association (NHRA)
- SCORE International Off-Road Racing
- Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)
- United States Auto Club (USAC)
- Formula One (F1)
- Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS)