Automobile Racing

International competitiveness, testing the capabilities of specially designed
automobiles and the skill of their drivers, over tracks and courses of differing
lengths and construction, this is automobile racing. The first car race
considered is the one held in France in July 1894, in which the winner averaged
24 kilometers per hour, when 100 automobiles set out from Paris to Rouen. The
first race in North America was held in Chicago, Illinois, in the year 1895.
The excitement generated by the possibility of driving at higher and higher
speeds has made automobile racing one of the world's major spectator and
participant sports. Early races were held in two forms; pure speed races and the
others tested engine reliability, which later became known as rallies. In
rallies, cars attempt to achieve and maintain a set speed between points. The
first races were held on public roads, but with increasing concern for spectator
safety, special closed-circuit tracks were built for rally racing. The most
common racing track is a paved oval with banked corners, from 200 m to 4000 m in
length. The difference between road and track racing ultimately led also to
different vehicle construction; four major types of racing cars are now built.
Pure racing machines, such as those used in Grand Prix\Formula 1 and in Indycar,
are built for power and endurance at speeds of more than 320 km/h (200 MPH). In
the past stock cars used to be production automobiles modified for track racing,
but are built now solely for the purpose of racing. Sports cars used for racing,
such as rallies, may be either rebuilt production vehicles or pure racing
machines. Drag racers are cars built to accelerate rapidly to high speeds over
very short straight tracks, or drag strips, generally about 400 m (3 mi) long.
The race most popularly associated with the sport is the Indianapolis 500, so
called because contestants must cover 500 mi (about 805 km); it has been held
annually on Memorial Day weekend since 1911. With crowds averaging 400,000, it
is the best-attended single-day sports event in the world. This year the Indy
500 will not involve most teams from Indycar\CART, Championship Auto Racing
Teams, the regulatory body which is now being opposed by the IRL, Indycar Racing
League, whose owner also owns the Indy 500 track. The elite Grand Prix races are
held at various international sites, such as São Paulo, Brazil, and Johannesburg,
South Africa, and through the streets of Monte Carlo, Monaco. Points scored by
winners of these races are totaled to establish the world champion driver. The
24-hour race at Le Mans, France, is the most famous road endurance race. The
annual stock car Daytona 500 in Florida and the U.S. Nationals for drag racing
at Indianapolis Raceway Park are classics in their respective fields. Growth in
auto racing has shifted away from producing speed. Today the engineers of
racing are not focusing their efforts to generate more speed, but to improve
cornering speeds, fuel economy and the braking of the their creations. Straight
away speeds have not risen significantly since the 1960's. In spite of this,
racing cars have shaved seconds off previous track or course records each year
due to advances in aerodynamics, brakes, tires and chassis design. Wings, which
first appeared in the mid-1960's, were a major development allowing speed to
increase but also allowing the car to be safe for the driver. Wings are
basically airplane wings turned upside down. Instead of lifting, the wings
force the car down. Today because of the downforce provided by wings, an
Indycar can run upside down on the ceiling. Due to the improvement in car
design which has led to faster speeds, but also several deaths, many racing
organizations are changing rules for the safety of the drivers. Such examples
are NASCAR implementing restrictor plates to slow the cars, Formula 1 changing
from methanol burning engines to gasoline burning engines, and Indycar adding
pop-off valves, which open if engine pressure is to high thus exposing the
engine to atmospheric pressure and leading to low power production form the
engine. Auto racing advancement and research has also helped the commercial
automobile industry. The majority of the worlds auto makers have one or more
entries in the 24-hours at Le Mans race. This race is chosen because the strain
put on the car could equal strain put on a car by an average consumer in a year
or more. This can show the immediate reliability of new or revised components.
The auto makers may test new engines, chassis, or something as simple as head
lights. The turbocharger got its