Motorsport racing is one of the most exciting forms of sports competitions created by humans. While racers are chasing the adrenaline rush that no other human experience or drug can replicate, viewers also tend to get a kick out of watching the vehicles running at dizzying speeds.
One of the most popular subsets of motorsports is auto-racing (involving the racing of automobiles for competition). Formula One, NASCAR, 24 Hours of Le Mans are some of the most thrilling racing tournaments in this category today.
Here’s a look at the most popular types of racing and tournaments in the world of auto racing:
Open-wheel racing or Formula racing is done with a car which has wheels outside the vehicle’s main body, and usually has only one seat. A typical open-wheeler has a minimal cockpit sufficient only to enclose the driver’s body, with the head exposed to the air. Open-wheel racing has some of the most high profile series in the world including Formula One and Indy Car. No other form of auto racing can achieve the speed of an open-wheel race car.
Formula One is the holy grail of car racing. It is governed and sanctioned by a world body called the FIA − Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile or the International Automobile Federation. The word “formula” refers to the set of rules which all participants’ cars must conform.
A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grand Prix (GP). These GPs take place worldwide on circuits (tracks specifically and purposefully built for conducting races. F1 circuits are of two types − Street Circuit and Road Circuit) usually over the course of a year called the ‘Formula One World Championship season’.
The number of GPs in a season has varied through the years. The minimum total distance of a Grand Prix race, including all the pre-defined number of laps must be 300 km. The driver who crosses the finish line first after completing a pre-determined number of laps is declared the winner of the Grand prix.
The results of all GP races in a season are taken together to determine two annual Championship awards – The Drivers’ Championship Award and the Constructors’ Championship Award. (All F1 teams have to build their own engine and chassis of the car. The owner of the engine and chassis is called the constructor.) The current world champion is Lewis Hamilton while Mercedes won the Constructors trophy.
Currently, there are 10 teams participating in the F1 World Championship — Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Racing Point, Renault, Alpha Tauri, Alpha Romeo Racing, Haas F1 Team and Williams.
Each team is permitted two cars per competition.
FIA Formula 2 Championship is a developmental racing series, designed to identify and provide training and experience for drivers who in the future may be good enough to drive F1. The major difference form F1 other than the talent and experience of the drivers is that all F2 cars are identical. They are all designed and built with identical components. This gives drivers a level playing field. Formula Two racing is more of a test of individual driving skill rather than team costs. F2 races are often held in coordination with F1 races at the same tracks.
Currently, they are 11 teams competing in the Championship — Dams, Uni-Virttuosi Racing, Art Grand Prix, Carlin,Prema Racing,Trident,Hitech Grand Prix, Campos Racing, Charouz Racing System, Mp Motorsport, BWT HWA Racelab.
After the end of every season, F1 teams sign F2 drivers. This season Mick Schumacher, son of the legendary F1 driver Michael Schumacher, and Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda earned F1 seats in team Haas and Alpha Tauri respectively.
Formula E is the world’s first fully electric international single-seater motorsport series that uses only electric cars. The cars are the biggest difference between Formula E and any other motorsport. The Formula E cars are almost emissions-free and driven using 100% renewable energy. Despite being battery powered, the vehicles can reach speeds of up to 280kmph.
Unlike other car races, where drivers compete over a set number of laps, an E-Prix has a completely different format. Formula E races are run over 45 minutes and then they complete one additional lap. All drivers must complete the same number of laps as driver who is in the lead. At the end of the 45 minutes, the winner is the driver to cross the finish line first in the lap after the 45 minutes of racing is completed.
The races take place in city centres rather than round circuits built in the countryside. These are purpose-built tracks that exist just for one weekend for the race. Like most other motorsports, Formula E championships are decided based on points built up throughout the season.
Formula E is currently contested by twelve teams with two drivers each. All teams have identical cars that have been manufactured and made available to them. This guarantees that the teams compete on a much more level playing field.
Endurance racing is meant to test the durability of equipment and endurance of participants. Several teams comprising multiple drivers attempt to cover a large distance in a single event, with participants given a break with the ability to change during the race. Endurance races can be run either to cover a set distance in laps as quickly as possible, or to cover as much distance as possible over a preset amount of time. They can run between 2.5 and 24 hours, in both fair weather and dreadful conditions. The historic 24 Hours of Le Mans fall under this category.
24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France. Considered one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world, it is a gruelling test of endurance where competitors race stunningly fast cars for 24 straight hours at speeds that can exceed 200 mph. The race is a punishing test that pushes driver and machine to their limits—and sometimes beyond. It is won by the car that covers the greatest distance in 24 hours.
Stock car racing:
Stock car racing use production cars that have been customized specifications for racing purposes. Such races are usually conducted in oval tracks, wherein racers are pushed to the limits over tremendous amounts of laps. Stock car racing is mostly popular in the Unites States.
National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the largest governing body in stock car racing, which organises premier racing events such as the Sprint Cup Series, Daytona 500 and the Southern 500.
NASCAR has many different racing series, featuring drivers from all over and with various levels of talent competing in a set number of events and following rules by the sanctioning body. The three national NASCAR series — Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series.
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series the cars weigh 3,450 pounds, and their engines produce about 850 horsepower, meaning the cars can reach speeds above 180 mph at some tracks. The cars in the Nationwide Series weigh 3,400 pounds, and their engines produce about 750 horsepower i.e slightly slower than their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series counterparts. While in the Camping World Truck Series feature souped-up pickup trucks with engines that produce about 750 horsepower. Trucks are capable of going about 180 mph on certain tracks.