Motorsport is one of the most diverse and inclusive sports in the world. While some races are not meant to gain worldwide recognition or generate a large following, they do bring people together. From popular sanctioned races like Formula 1 to 24 hour races on different circuits to unsanctioned races like Cannonball Run, one thing all of these races have in common is loyal fan bases. This, coupled with dedicated competitors, allows for exceptional performance.
Road racing is one of the most popular racing competitions. This motorsport takes place on paved roads. It can be closed circuit racing or street racing, depending on the location. Road races are legal in most countries, and when organized, roads are often temporarily closed during street races.
When this race started, it took place mainly on public roads. However, it came to a halt after a massive public safety outcry. This led to the construction of circuits for the sole purpose of hosting this event. This being a sport which brings together automobile lovers, it is very much in our back alley.
Here’s what you need to know about the world of road racing.
History of road racing
The origin of road racing is not really known, but it is believed to have started somewhere in Western Europe. At first, British cars were the benchmark for anyone looking to participate in the sport. After the end of World War II, road racing was classified into a specific category. This category was called the Formula 1 World Championship. A general body was appointed to oversee the race. This body was called the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
These races included car and motorcycle races. They were all organized and classified in Grand Prix. The motorcycles were under what is now known as MotoGP which has been neglected by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). Over time, these races were the only thing people in Europe could talk about, and it wasn’t long before the news spread around the world.
While Europe had Formula 1, there was an increase in other road racing events across the world. This included kart racing. Stock car races, sports car races and endurance races. The first legal road race was held in 1894, and it started in Paris, and the checkered flag was dropped in Rouen, France. It wasn’t until a year later that it took place in the United States, where participants ran from Chicago to Evanston before traveling to Illinois and then returning to Chicago.
Competitions And Circuits
By 1905, different countries had their own form of road racing. In France, the Automobile Club de France organized the Gordon Bennett Cup. It was considered the most important road race in the world. In 1906, there was a misunderstanding between the race organizers and Bennet. This saw the organization of the first French Grand Prix which took place at Le Mans. This then evolved into the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1923.
As the sport has evolved, so have cars, which has made safety an important topic of discussion. Countries like the UK banned racing on public roads in 1925. This was after a spectator was injured during the Kop Hill Climb race. Not wanting to abandon the spectators of the race, club officials, races and even private owners chose to build circuits where they could race.
The first circuit was the Dodington Park circuit. It was here that the first motorcycle race in Britain was held in 1931. The next big motorcycle race was held immediately after WWII in 1949. It was the introduction of something new, the big price. This race, in particular, was the Isle of Man TT of 1949.
This was quickly followed by the introduction of Formula 1, which featured seven rounds of racing and featured the Indianapolis 500. The world champion was the team or driver with the most points at the end of the seven rounds.
While all of this was happening in Europe, the racing spirit was reborn in the United States. In the mid-1950s, construction of new tracks to accommodate the races began. Laguna Seca, Riverside International Raceway, Road America and Daytona International Speedway were the first tracks to be completed and unveiled. In 1964, the first motorcycle Grand Prix was held at Daytona International Speedway. This set the stage for other events.
Safety and dangers
While the circuits protected the public from racing incidents, that did not make them safe either. More often than not, spectators standing at the edge of the circuit would be injured during the races. Thus, these injuries would prove fatal.
If you go through the history of Formula 1, you will come across incidents where spectators and drivers were fatally injured. This saw the withdrawal of many teams from the race, including the current Mercedes Formula 1 championship team.
The frequency of these crashes saw drivers and spectators boycott most races. The FIA and the FIM got together and worked on safety stands for all urban and closed circuits. This included widening the runways, installing baffles, gates, fences and runoff areas. Some circuits have also been shortened so that race staff can come to the rescue more quickly after crashes.
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