Motorsport is one of the most diverse and inclusive sports in the world. While some races are not geared towards worldwide recognition or garner a huge following, they bring people together. Popular sanctioned races like Formula 1 to 24-hour races on different circuits to unsanctioned races like the Cannonball Run, one thing that all these races have in common is loyal fanbases. This coupled with dedicated competitors, makes for outstanding performances.
Road racing is one of the more popular racing competitions. This motorsport is held on paved roads. They can be either closed circuit races or street races, depending on the location. Road racing is legal in most countries, and when held, roads are often temporarily closed during street racing events.
When this race started, it was mostly held on public roads. However, this stopped after a massive outcry for public safety. This led to circuits being built for the single purpose of hosting this event. This being a sport that brings car lovers together, it is right up our alley.
Here is what you should 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. In the beginning, British cars were the go-to for anyone looking to participate in the sport. After the end of the Second World War, road races were put into a specific category. This category was called Formula One world championship. An overall 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 classed as Grand Prix. Motorcycles were under what is now known as MotoGP that was overlooked by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). Over time these races were the only thing people in Europe could talk about, and not before long, word spread throughout the world.
While Europe had Formula One, there was a rise of other Road Racing events across the world. This included kart racing. Stock car racing, sportscar racing, and endurance racing. The first legal Road Race was held in 1894, and it started in Paris, and the checkered flag was dropped in Rouen, France. It was not until a year later that it was held in the United States, where participants raced from Chicago to Evanston before proceeding to Illinois and then making their way back to Chicago.
Competitions And Circuits
By 1905, different countries had their own form of Road Races. In France, the Automobile Club de France held the Gordon Bennett Cup. This 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 that was held at the Le Mans. This then went on to evolve into the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1923.
As the sport evolved, so did the cars, which made safety a big talking point. Countries like the United Kingdom banned racing on public roads in 1925. This was after a spectator was injured during the Kop Hill Climb race. Not wanting to give up racing spectators, club officials, races, and even private owners opted to build circuits where they could race.
The first circuit was the Dodington Park circuit. It was here where the first motorcycle race in Britain was held in 1931. The next big motorcycle race was held immediately after the Second World War in 1949. It was the introduction of something new, the Grand Prix. This race, in particular, was the 1949 Isle of Man TT.
This was soon followed by the introduction of Formula One, which featured seven race rounds and included the Indianapolis 500. The world champion was the team or driver with the most points at the end of the seven rounds.
While all this was happening in Europe, the racing spirit was being rekindled in the United States. By the mid-1950s, the construction of new tracks to accommodate racing started. Laguna Seca, Riverside International Raceway, Road America, and the Daytona International Speedway were the first tracks to be completed and unveiled. By 1964, the first motorcycle Grand Prix was held at the Daytona International Speedway. This set the ball rolling for other events.
Safety and Hazards
While the circuits protected the public from racing incidents, this did not make them safe either. More often than not, spectators standing at the edge of the circuit would be injured during the races. So, these injuries would prove to be fatal.
If you read through the history of Formula One, you will come across incidents where both spectators and drivers were fatally injured. This saw the withdrawal of many teams from the race, including the current Formula One Championship team Mercedes.
The frequency of these accidents saw drivers and spectators boycott most races. The FIA and the FIM got together and worked on safety stands for all street circuits and closed circuits. This included widening of the tracks, installation of chicanes, barriers, fences, and run-off areas. Some circuits were also shortened in order to have race personnel come to the rescue faster after accidents.
To remember some of the best old school cars ever made, we have compiled a mini-list outlining cars we wish would come back today.
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