It was July 22, 1894, when the first auto race took place. In reality Le Petit Journal Competition for Horseless Carriages was more of an exhibition than a race. It included around two dozen enthusiastic participants and the starting point was Paris which finished at Rouen 79 miles away. The main purpose behind this exhibition race was not to decide which vehicle was the fastest, it was rather to check the reliability and safety of these steam and gas powered vehicles. More than a century later 79 miles in your car may not seem like much, however if your average speed is 12 mph and you cross the finish line after several hours, it helps put things in perspective. Auto racing has come a long way since that summer day in 1894. Today it is more than a billion dollar sporting industry with fans from all over the world buying auto racing tickets.
The Different Types of Auto Racing
Auto racing comes in all shapes and sizes. With manufacturers introducing new technologies, cars today are designed with different personalities in mind. From gas guzzling SUVs to environmentally friendly electric smart cars, car makers align consumer needs with the technology they provide. Same goes for auto mobile racing. Fans are specific about the terrain and the machines in action. Here are some of the most famous forms of auto racing happening around the world.
These single-seat open-wheel machines are almost entirely made out of carbon fiber composites. Even though racing teams are famously private about the specifications of their race cars engines, the Formula One technical specifications say V-6 engines put around 600 horsepower with the hybrid drive train offering another 160 ponies when needed. The 2014 season all cars powered by 1.6 liter turbocharged V-6 hybrid engines by Renault, Mercedes – Benz and Ferrari.
Formula One is widespread with around 19 races in as many countries in a single season. The race tracks are purpose built and these cars have been clocked at 240 mph plus. However due to the shape of the track, drivers are unable to achieve maximum speed all the time. With team budgets in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars, Formula One is the most widely followed auto racing sport in the world.
Similar to Formula One, Indy cars are also made out of carbon fiber composites. These single-seat open-wheeled machines are all manufactured by Dallara Automobili in Italy. The engines are either from Chevrolet or Honda and their 2.2 liter twin turbo V-6 engines produce around 575-675 horsepower. A single IndyCar season has around 18 races and they all take place in and around US and Canada. The tracks are diverse and the maximum speeds these machines can achieve are over 230 mph. IndyCar is the fastest version of auto racing in the US and its flagship event the Indy 500 is called the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’.
NASCAR – NASCAR which stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing features front-engine rear-wheel-drive stock cars. They may seem state of the art from the outside, these stock cars have an old school tubular space frame chassis and roll cage. The engine’s equally old school with 5.9 liter pushrod V-8, which can do 900 horsepower at its maximum.
With 36 races around the US, the tracks are usually oval shaped. On tracks such as Talladega, Charlotte and Daytona, these cars can reach up to 200 mph. NASCAR is one of the most watched sport in the US and some of its famous drivers are household names.
FIA World Endurance Championship
This auto racing event is a little different that the others. First off, it allows four different classes of cars on the track when racing. These can range from Le Mans prototype to the common Porsches. The engine of the prototypes could be a variety of six or eight cylinder engines. They could be both gasoline and diesel.
In a regular season, there are usually eight races that take place all over the world. An interesting aspect of these races is that as they are endurance races, they last from six to twenty four hours. In comparison, the Formula One races take about two hours to complete. A car uses more than a driver to complete the race and their turns behind the wheel are divided into forty minute stints. In addition to professionals, the FIA World Endurance Championship also allows amateur drivers to participate.
Just as any sport, auto racing is a passion for millions of fans around the world. This is one of the main reasons why auto racing tickets for special events sell out right after they go on sale.