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Auto racing (also known as automobile racing or car racing) is a motorsport involving racing cars. It is one of the world's most watched television sports.

History

The beginning of racing

Racing began soon after the construction of the first successful petrol-fueled automobiles. The first race ever organized was on April 28, 1887 by the chief editor of Paris publication Le Vélocipède, Monsieur Fossier. It ran 2 kilometers from Neuilly Bridge to the Bois de Boulogne. It was won by Georges Bouton, in a car he had constructed with Albert, the Comte de Dion, but as he was the only competitor to show up it is rather pointless to call it a race.

On July 22, 1894 the first real contest was a reliability test from 'Paris to Rouen', (Concours des Voitures sans Chevaux (Horseless Carriage Competition)), organised by the Parisian magazine Le Petit Journal. The Comte Jules-Albert de Dion was first to arrive in Rouen on his steam car, but a Panhard et Levassor was judged to be the winner.

In 1895, the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris Trial was held and this was the first real race as all competitors started together. The winner was Émile Levassor in his Panhard-Levassor 1205 cc model. He completed the course (1,178 km or 732 miles) in 48 hours and 47 minutes, finishing nearly six hours before the runner-up.

The first regular auto racing venue was Nice, France, run in late March 1897 as a "Speed Week." To fill out the schedule, most types of racing event were invented here, including the first hill climb (Nice - La Turbie) and a sprint that was, in spirit, the first drag race.

An international competition, between nations rather than individuals, began with the Gordon Bennett Cup in auto racing.

The first auto race in the United States took place in Chicago, Illinoismarker. The course went from the South side of the city, North along the lakefront to Evanston, Illinoismarker and back again on November 28, 1895 over an 54.36 mile(87.48 km) course, with Frank Duryea winning in 10 hours and 23 minutes, beating three petrol-fueled and two electric cars.

City to city racing

With auto construction and racing dominated by Francemarker, the French automobile club ACF staged a number of major international races, usually from or to Paris, connecting with another major city in Europe or France.

These very successful races ended in 1903 when Marcel Renault was involved in a fatal accident near Angoulememarker in the Paris-Madrid race. Nine fatalities caused the French government to stop the race in Bordeauxmarker and ban open-road racing.

1910-1950

The 1930s saw the transformation from high-priced road cars into pure racers, with Delage, Auto Union, Mercedes-Benz, Delahaye, and Bugattimarker constructing streamlined vehicles with engines producing up to 450 kW (612 hp), aided by multiple-stage supercharging. From 1928-1930 and again in 1934-1936, the maximum weight permitted was 750 kg, a rule diametrically opposed to current racing regulations. Extensive use of aluminium alloys was required to achieve light weight, and in the case of the Mercedes, the paint was removed to satisfy the weight limitation, producing the famous Silver Arrows.

See: Grand Prix motor racing


Categories

Single-seater racing



In single-seater (open-wheel) the wheels are not covered, and the cars often have aerofoil wings front and rear to produce downforce and enhance adhesion to the track. In Europe and Asia, open wheeled racing is commonly referred to as "Formula", with appropriate hierarchical suffixes. In North America, the "Formula" terminology is not followed (with the exception of F1). The sport is usually arranged to follow an "international" format (such as F1), a "regional" format (such as the Formula 3 Euro Series), or a "domestic", or country-specific format (such as the German Formula 3 championship, or the British Formula Ford).

The best-known variety of single-seater racing, Formula One, involves an annual World Championship for drivers and constructors

In North America, the cars used in the National Championship (currently the IndyCar Series, and previously CART) have traditionally been similar though less sophisticated than F1 cars, with more restrictions on technology aimed at controlling costs.


Other international single-seater racing series are the A1 Grand Prix (unofficially often referred to as the "world cup of motorsport"), and the GP2 (formerly known as Formula 3000 and Formula Two). Regional series include Formula Nippon and Formula V6 Asia (specifically in Asia), Formula Renault 3.5 (also known as the World Series by Renault, succession series of World Series by Nissan), Formula Three, Formula Palmer Audi and Formula Atlantic. In 2009, the FIA Formula Two Championship brought about the revival of the F2 series. Domestic, or country-specific series include Formula Three, Formula Renault, Formula Ford with the leading introductory series being Formula BMW.

Single seater racing is not limited merely to professional teams and drivers. There is a large amateur 'club racing' scene catering for those who want to race single seaters against similar people all over the world. In the UK the major club series are the Monoposto Racing Club, BRSCC F3 (Formerly ClubF3, formerly ARP F3), Formula Vee and Club Formula Ford. Each series caters for a section of the 'market', with some primarily providing low cost racing whilst others aim for an authentic experience using the same regulations as the professional series (BRSCC F3).

There are other categories of single-seater racing, including kart racing, which employs a small, low-cost machine on small tracks. Many of the current top drivers began their careers in karts. Formula Ford once represented a popular first open-wheel category for up-and-coming drivers stepping up from karts and now the Formula BMW series is the preferred option as it has introduced an aero package and slicks, allowing the junior drivers to gain experience in a race car with dynamics closer F1. The Star Mazda Series is another entry level series.

Students at colleges and universities can also take part in single seater racing through the Formula SAE competition, which involves designing and building a single seater car in a multidisciplinary team, and racing it at the competition. This also develops other soft skills such as teamwork whilst promoting motorsport and engineering.

In 2006, producer Todd Baker was responsible for creating the world's first all-female Formula racing team. The group was an assemblage of drivers from different racing disciplines, and formed for an MTV reality pilot which was shot at Mazda Raceway Laguna Secamarker.

In December, 2005 the FIA gave approval to Superleague Formula racing which debuted in 2008 whereby the racing teams are owned and run by prominent sports clubs such as AC Milan and Liverpool F.C..

After 25 years away from the sport, former Formula 2 champion Jonathan Palmer reopened the F2 category again, most drivers have graduated from the Formula Palmer Audi series. The category is officially registered as the FIA Formla Two championship. Most rounds have two races and are support races to the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

Touring car racing

Touring car racing is a style of road racing that is run with production derived race cars. It often features exciting, full-contact racing due to the small speed differentials and large grids.

The major touring car championships conducted worldwide are the V8 Supercars, British Touring Car Championship, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, and the World Touring Car Championship. The European Touring Cup is a one day event open to Super 2000 specification touring cars from Europe's many national championships. Another World series is the FIA GT Championship, which features the Spa 24 Hours on their schedule. There is also the FIA GT3 that takes place in races across Europe as well as the less powerful GT4's. Other GT championships include the British GT championship for GT3 and GT4 cars, Super GT and International GT open.

The Sports Car Club of America's SPEED World Challenge Touring Car and GT championships are dominant in North America. America's historic Trans-Am Series is undergoing a period of transition, but is still the longest-running road racing series in the U.S. The National Auto Sport Association also provides a venue for amateurs to compete in home-built factory derived vehicles on various local circuits.

Production car racing

Production car racing or known in the US as showroom stock, is an economical and rules restricted version of touring car racing, mainly to restrict costs.

Many series follow the Group N regulation with a few exceptions. There are several different series that are run all over the world, most notably, Japan's Super Taikyu and IMSA's Firehawk Series which ran between the 1980s to 1990s all over the United States.

One-make racing

One-make, or single marque, championships often employ production-based cars from a single manufacturer or even a single model from a manufacturer's range. There are numerous notable one-make formulae from various countries and regions, some of which – such as the Porsche Supercup and, previously, IROC – have fostered many distinct national championships. Single marque series are often found at club level, to which the production-based cars, limited modifications, and close parity in performance are very well suited. Some of the better-known single-make series are the Radical European Masters, SEAT Cupra Championship, John Cooper Mini Challenge, and Clio Cup, and at a more modest budget, Ginettas, Caterhams, BMWs, and MX5s. There are also single-chassis single seater formulae, such as Formula Ford, Formula Renault, Formula BMW, and Formula Vee, usually as "feeder" series for "senior" race formula (in the fashion of farm teams).

Stock car racing



Stock car racing is the most popular form of racing in the United States.

Primarily raced on oval tracks, stock cars resemble production cars but are in fact purpose-built racing machines which are built to tight specifications.

The largest stock car racing governing body is NASCAR. NASCAR's premier series is the Sprint Cup Series, its most famous races being the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. NASCAR also runs several feeder series. The Nationwide Series, and Camping World Truck Series (a pickup truck racing series) conduct races across the entire continental United States. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series conducts races across Canadamarker and the NASCAR Corona Series conducts races across Mexicomarker. NASCAR also governs several smaller regional series.

NASCAR also governs the Whelen Modified Tour. Modified cars are best described as hybrids of stock cars and open-wheel cars. They are heavily altered from stock, with powerful engines, large tires, tubular chassis and light bodies. The Whelen Modified tour is NASCAR's oldest series.
There are also other stock car governing bodies, such as Automobile Racing Club of America and United Speed Alliance Racing.

In the UK, British Stock car racing is also referred to as "Short Circuit Racing". This takes place on shale or tarmac tracks - usually around 1/4 mile in length. The governing bodies for the sport are the Oval Racing Council (ORC) and BriSCA. Both bodies are made up of individual stadium promoters. There are around 35 tracks in the UK and upwards of 7000 active drivers. The sport is split into three basic "divisions" - distinguished by the rules regarding car-contact during racing. The most famous championship is the BriSCA Formula One stock cars. Full contact formulas include Bangers, Bombers and Rookie Bangers - and racing features Demolitions Derbies, Figure of Eight racing and Oval Racing

Semi Contact Formulas include BriSCA F1, F2 and Superstox - where bumpers are used tactically.

Non-contact formulas include National Hot Rods, Stock Rods and Lightning Rods.

UK Stock car racing started in the 1950s and grew rapidly through the 60s and 70s.

Rallying

Rallying, or rally racing, involves two classes of car. The modified Group A, but road legal, production-based cars and the Group N Production cars compete on (closed) public roads or off-road areas run on a point-to-point format where participants and their co-drivers "rally" to a set of points, leaving in regular intervals from start points. A rally is typically conducted over a number of "special stages" of any terrain, which entrants are often allowed to scout beforehand at reduced speeds compiling detailed shorthand descriptions of the track or road as they go. These detailed descriptions are known as "pace notes." During the actual rally, the co-driver reads the pace notes aloud (using an in-helmet intercom system) to the driver, enabling them to complete each stage as quickly as possible. Competition is based on lowest total elapsed time over the course of an event's special stages, including penalties.

The top series is the World Rally Championship (WRC), but there also regional championships and many countries have their own national championships. Some famous rallies include the Monte Carlo Rally, Rally Argentina, Rally Finland and Rally GB. Another famous event (actually best described as a "rally raid") is the Paris-Dakar Rally. There are also many smaller, club level, categories of rallies which are popular with amateurs, making up the "grass roots" of motor sports.Rallying is the most widely used sport around the world as it can race on any circuit type. As well as the WRC there is the British Rally Championship, Intercontinental Rally Challenge, African Rally Championship, Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and endurance rally events like the Dakar Rally.

Targa Racing (Targa Rally)

Targa is a tarmac-based road rally which is run all around the world. This began with the Targa Floriomarker. There are many races including Targa Tasmania held on the Australian island state of Tasmania run annually since 1992. The event takes its name from the Targa Floriomarker, a former motoring event held on the island of Sicily. The competition concept is drawn directly from the best features of the Mille Miglia, the Coupe des Alpes and the Tour de Corse. Other events around the world include the Targa Newfoundland based in Canada, Targa West based in Western Australiamarker, Targa New Zealand and other smaller events.

Drag racing

In drag racing, the objective is to complete a given straight-line distance, from a standing start, ahead of a vehicle in a parallel lane. This distance is traditionally ¼ mile (400 m), though 1/8 mile (200 m) has become popular since the 1990s. The vehicles may or may not be given the signal to start at the same time, depending on the class of racing. Vehicles range from the everyday car to the purpose-built dragster. Speeds and elapsed time differ from class to class. Average street cars cover the ¼ mile in from 10 to 15 seconds whereas a top fuel dragster takes 4.5 seconds or less, reaching speeds of up to 530 km/h (330 mph). Drag racing was organized as a sport by Wally Parks in the early 1950s through the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association). The NHRA was formed to discourage street racing.

Launching, a top fuel dragster will accelerate at 3.4 g (33 m/s²), and when braking parachutes are deployed the deceleration is 4 g (39 m/s²), more than the Space Shuttle experiences. A top fuel car can be heard over 8 miles (13 km) away and generates a reading of 1.5 to 2 on the Richter scale.

Drag racing is two cars head-to-head, the winner proceeding to the next round. Professional classes are all first to the finish line wins. Sportsman racing is handicapped (slower car getting a head start) using an index (a lowest e.t. allowed), and cars running under (quicker than) their index "break out" and lose. The slowest cars, bracket racers, are also handicapped, but rather than an index, they use a "dial-in". Bracket racing has been viewed as the main cause of the loss of public interest in drag racing. People don't understand why the slower car wins or why somebody needs to hit the brakes to avoid going too fast. Many local tracks have also complained that bracket racers will also go out of their way to spend as little as possible while at the track by bringing their own food, beverages, fuel and supplies thus, making it more difficult for tracks to make money on these events. This causes gate prices to rise and tracks losing interest in having such events.

Sports car racing

In sports car racing, production versions of sports cars and/or grand tourers, and sports prototype cars compete within their respective classes on closed circuits. The races are often conducted over long distances, at least , and cars are driven by teams of two or three drivers (and sometimes more in the US), switching every few hours. Due to the performance difference between production-based sports cars and purpose-built sports prototypes, one race usually involves several racing classes. In the US the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) was organized in 1999, featuring GT1, GT2, and two prototype classes, LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) and LMP2. Manufacturers such as Audi and Acura/Honda field or support entries in the Prototype class. Another series based on Le Mans began in 2004, the Le Mans Endurance Series, which included four races at tracks in Europe. A competing body, Grand-Am, which began in 2000, sanctions its own endurance series the Rolex Sports Car Series.

Famous sports car races include the 24 Hours of Le Mansmarker, the 24 Hours of Daytona, 24 Hours of Spa-Franchorchamps, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlantamarker.

Off-road racing

In off-road racing, various classes of specially modified vehicles, including cars, compete in races through off-road environments. In North America these races often take place in the desert, such as the famous Baja 1000.In Europe, "offroad" refers to events such as autocross or rallycross, while desert races and rally-raids such as the Paris-Dakar, Master Rallye or European "bajas" are called "cross-country rallies."

Kart racing

A sprint kart race in Atwater California hosted by the International Karting Federation.
Although often seen as the entry point for serious racers into the sport, kart racing, or karting, can be an economical way for amateurs to try racing and is also a fully fledged international sport in its own right. A large proportion of professional racing drivers began in karts, often from a very young age, such as Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. Several former motorcycle champions have also taken up the sport, notably Wayne Rainey, who was paralysed in a racing accident and now races a hand-controlled kart. As one of the cheapest ways to go racing, karting is seeing its popularity grow worldwide.

Despite their diminutive size, karting's most powerful class, superkart, can have a power-to-weight ratio of 440 hp/tonne.

Historical racing

As modern motor racing is centered on modern technology with a lots of corporate sponsors and politics involved, historical racing tends to be the opposite. Because it is based on a particular era it is more hobbyist oriented, reducing corporate sponsorship and politics. Events are regulated to only allow cars of a certain era to participate. The only modern equipment used is related to safety and timing. A historical event can be of various different motorsport disciplines. Notably some of the most famous events of them all are the Goodwood Festival of Speedmarker and Goodwood Revival in Britain and Monterey Historic in the United States. Championships range from "grass root" Austin Seven racing to the FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix Championship for classic Formula One chassis.

While there are several professional teams and drivers in historical racing, this branch of auto sport tends to be contested by wealthy car owners and is thus more amateur and laid back in its approach.

Other categories

See also :Category:Auto racing by type


Use of flags

In many types of auto races, particularly those held on closed courses, flags are displayed to indicate the general status of the track and to communicate instructions to competitors. While individual series have different rules, and the flags have changed from the first years (e.g. red used to start a race), these are generally accepted.

Flag Displayed from start tower Displayed from observation post
The session has started or resumed after a full course caution or stop. End of hazardous section of track.
Full course caution condition for ovals. On road courses, it means a local area of caution. Depending on the type of racing, either two yellow flags will be used for a full course caution or a sign with 'SC' (Safety car) will be used as the field follows the pace/safety car on track and no cars may pass. Local caution condition — no cars may pass at the particular corner where being displayed. When Stationary indicates hazard off-course, when Waving indicates hazard on-course.
Debris, fluid, or other hazard on the track surface. Debris, fluid, or other hazard on the track surface.
The car with the indicated number must pit for consultation. The session is halted, all cars on course must return to pit lane. May also be seen combined with a green flag to indicate oil on track, typically referred to as a 'pickle' flag combination.
The car with the indicated number has mechanical trouble and must pit.
The driver of the car with the indicated number has been penalized for misbehaviour.
The driver of the car with the indicated number is disqualified or will not be scored until they report to the pits.
The car should give way to faster traffic. Depending on the series this may be a command or merely advisory. A car is being advised to give way to faster traffic approaching.
The session is stopped. All cars must halt on the track or return to pit lane.
Depending on the series, either one lap remains or a slow vehicle is on the track. A slow vehicle is on the track.
The session has concluded.


Accidents

For the worst accident in racing history see 1955 Le Mans disastermarker. (See also Deaths in motorsports)

Racing car setup

In auto racing, the racing setup or car setup is the set of adjustments made to the vehicle in order to optimize its behaviour (performance, handling, reliability, etc.). Adjustments can occur in suspensions, brakes, transmissions, engines, tires, and many others.

See also



References

  1. Historic Racing
  2. ESPN.com "Addition of IndyCar champ Hornish will give Penske third Cup team" Retrieved February 8, 2009
  3. NHRA Mile High Nationals 2001, and 2002 testing from the National Seismology Center.


External links

Sanctioning bodies




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