Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Auto Racing: Is it a Sport?

NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, Moto GP, Rolex Series, Le Mans, American Le Mans, World SuperBike, AMA Pro Racing, etc. There are more subsets, classes and series of motorsport than there are of any other sport. For the purposes of this argument, we'll place them under the same umbrella.

At this point, I'll probably toss a disclaimer in, that I work at a racetrack... so you probably know what the verdict is going to be already, but read on to find out why I'm calling it a sport.

I could go on for thousands of words about this stuff, but guess what, I'm in race mode right now because the track I work at has a race this weekend. Shoot, I'm running around so much right now it's almost a sport just promoting it. 

Here are a couple of quick points on why it's a sport:
-Especially in endurance races, the constant switch from gas to brake is the equivalent of a light jog for a couple hours (ask Allan McNish)
-With the speeds some racecars reach, the g-forces the drivers are enduring make everything so much harder to do...turning your head, the wheel, moving your feet, all much more difficult. Related to that, the amount of force required to turn the wheel at speed is the same force you need to lift a 20 lb dumbell. Imagine doing that for say, 13 turns in about 67 seconds.
-The mental fatigue that builds up from pushing a car to its limits for hour after hour is a beatdown.
-Last point, we talk about hockey being athletically demanding because the players have to learn a whole new mode of transportation.  Same thing goes in racing, except beyond controlling your own body/glove/stick/bat/racket, you have to control something much bigger and much more powerful than you.

...and one against it:
-You're sitting down the whole time

That's not enough, you need

Verdict: It's a sport.


  1. The standard I always use for this question is whether or not adding speed or strength will help you in said competition. With that in mind, I agree that auto racing is a sport, but that the cars are the athletes, not the drivers. Whenever a driver does well, they always say it's because they have a great car. Is piloting a race car mentally and physically exhausting? Absolutely. But when the outcome of a race depends so little on the drivers' physical capabilities, I can't get myself to call them athletes.

  2. By that logic, equestrian is a sport.

  3. if you're stronger as a driver, you're going to turn the wheel and hit the pedals faster and better later in a race, therefore giving yourself an advantage over weaker drivers

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