Motorsport is a huge topic and it covers so many aspects. So I will concentrate on the Motorsport that I personally like to watch. When you think about this sport it brings to mind a multitude of activities such as bike racing, rallying, sports car racing and Formula 1. The motorsports I like to watch are mainly Formula1, rallying, sports cars and some motorbike racing. So what is it that makes watching these four so enthralling? Well I suppose it is because an individual is pitting themselves against a difficult circuit while at the same time controlling a highly powerful machine in order to overcome not only the circuit, but control the device in order to ultimately beat the other contestants.
If we take rallying then what is it about it that makes it so interesting? In my view you have a car that has been slightly or extensively modified which the driver is trying to drive it from A to B in the quickest time over different stages designed to test car and driver to the absolute limit. In the world championships they do it on different surfaces testing the car and driver even more. To me it is very watchable because with modern technology there is a camera in the car and this allows you to view exactly what the driver and co-driver are seeing. This makes the experience very real and you can sometimes feel yourself taking the bends and jumps with them.
Rallying is not only a professional sport it is also an interest for many people who love to test themselves or have a craving for something dangerous. There is a number of Motor Clubs around which cater for these people, many of them driving modified standard road cars. You will often find that they have friends who are mechanics and they work together. I must admit that I enjoy watching the amateur side of rallying a lot because you know that they are everyday people with a job and to them it is a hobby (a pretty expensive hobby I might add). As a spectator spectacle either on television or in person it is magical to watch.
One of my own favourites is sports car racing. These can range from your humble Mazda MX5 right up to specially designed and built cars by motor manufacturers. There are owners clubs and clubs that run events and many of the drivers and teams are amateur as well as professional teams and many of them will have sponsors to help with the running costs. Sports Car Racing is great to watch on television especially on some of the classic circuits which they use. One day I would love to go and watch the Le Mans 24 Hours, to any sports car fan it is the pinnacle of this type of racing.
Sports car racing has numerous categories and sub divisions which I am not going to list. It does include a classic division which is for people who have bought a motor manufacturers car, now own it privately and still want to race it. Sometimes they may form a team and race it that way because by doing so it is somewhat less expensive as they end up looking for sponsorship to cover some or all of the costs. The motor manufacturer built cars are phenomenal pieces of machinery and often the new technology they use on them eventually filters down to the road cars and hopefully makes them safer.
Although I like some motor bike racing I do not watch a huge amount but when I do I am amazed at the control of the riders. When you think they are riding a very powerful machine and often have a tiny patch of rubber keeping them upright, that takes some doing. Yes you do see some spectacular falls but in most cases the rider gets up and walks away because of the safety element which today is so highly visible. Many of the major bike manufacturers enter either as a factory team or supply an independent team who get sponsorship running into millions of dollars. There are many levels and different engine sizes in motor bike racing and they all appear to be as exciting as each other but I tend mostly to watch the super bikes or Moto GP.
However my favourite motor sport is Formula 1 and over the last few years it has become very watchable. This is mainly due to the rule changes the governing body has introduced. These have worked well for the big teams but they have also worked well for the smaller teams and have closed the gap slightly. Yes I agree there are still four top teams and a growing number of middle teams and the number of minnows (as they are referred to) is getting smaller. Some of the technology being developed and used has also filtered down to our everyday cars and this can only be good for driver safety. The standard expertise of the current top drivers is to be honest very frightening because it is so high and several of them seem to absolutely fearless. I can recall several overtaking moves in the 2012 season. Some of these were almost death defying, or at least very risky and commentators could not believe that such moves were even being considered at that point on the track.
I do agree that it is a hugely expensive sport but I look at the drivers and they are risking their lives for something they love to do which makes it a fantastic spectator spectacle. I know they get paid very well but in my opinion they thoroughly deserve it. The companies involved have to raise huge amounts in sponsorship and I look at it as a highly visible form of promotion for the sponsors. Formula 1 is regarded by the vast majority of the racing drivers as the ultimate goal in their driving career, and so it should be. You are driving a high powered very light piece of machinery that can go from 0 to 100 in less than five seconds and who would not want to drive something like that?
My enjoyment and fascination for Formula 1 has been with me for many years. It began I think really in the sixties when it was much more dangerous. Today, even with the much improved safety requirements, it is still just as exciting and interesting to watch. With 20 races a year it has truly become a world championship. Yes I know we have had the same winner for the last three years but a large amount of that is down to the design team. This includes working with the engine supplier to get the car and engine to work as a single unit and the top four teams are doing that so well.
I look forward to the coming seasons with great anticipation and hope that we see some exciting races and maybe a couple of new world champions.
Adrian Rush MISTC
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