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Sports

Indie Sports: Motorsports

When hearing the word “sport,” a few common thoughts tend to come to mind:  the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and quite possibly that soccer game of World Cup proportions played last week at the park.  But when the eager third grader begins writing the sentence, “I like to play…” the answer is rarely, “…motorsports. I love auto racing–like the World Rally Championship and Formula One!”  Yet motorsports are just that—sports—too often requiring more skill and dedication than the traditional sports so respected by society.

When people refer to the definition of sport–an often competitive activity requiring skill or physical prowess, motorsports are too often brushed aside, when in fact it exceeds the criteria of being a sport. Formula One auto racing, a prime example of a motorsport (and one all too often mistaken for NASCAR) demonstrates the skill needed in motorsports.  Formula One cars are known to be the fastest in the world, reaching speeds well over 200 mph—significantly faster than NASCAR stock cars.  Each auto race provides incomprehensible thrill: a combination of high speeds, physical danger, and electrifying competition.  Such powerful cars require an advanced technology that is often underestimated or simply brushed aside.

For starters, teams competing in their respective leagues are constantly at one another’s throats, upgrading their cars and technology from one race to the next.  The technology used on these cars is astonishing; an amazed Ice-T once referred to Formula One cars as “rocket ships on the ground.”  And the creation of these “rocket ships” requires dedication.  For example, auto manufacturers spend millions of dollars and many months in development to create an internal framework, or chassis, for each car that applies the most downforce possible during sharp turns. Racers spend thousands of hours in wind tunnels working to create the most efficient and aerodynamic vehicle possible.

The nearly limitless amount of money teams are willing to spend to have the fastest car on the grid highlights how passionate they really are; their strong drives to secure a championship rival those of even the most competitive sports.  In motorsports, even the less-successful teams will resort to any means necessary to gain a few points.  The teams’ individual drivers are just as relentless.  Every race is full of drivers colliding with tire walls and opponents, risking their bodies just to advance from a mere eighth place to a seventh.

With gritted teeth, flexed muscles, and sweaty brows, drivers have a focus and coordination of themselves and their vehicles that leaves no room for error.  In order to withstand strenuous conditions, drivers have to be in top physical condition.  Without the necks of linebackers, these drivers’ heads would merely bobble and their necks very easily snap.  At 200 miles per hour, the average throbbing heart would not last; yet drivers simply must be in near-marathon running shape just to have the cardiovascular ability to complete a race.

The physical strain on motorsport drivers is invisible to the public because people do not see the athletes, only comical darting cars.  Instead of learning the facts, many tend to brush off these athletes because their abilities are encased in a steel machine. Realistically, however, the ability to manipulate these machines in such dangerous and strenuous conditions only further proves motorsport racers as athletes who are part of a true sport.

It may take a generation of third graders to realize, however, that a sport isn’t simply a ball in a playing court.  Sometimes the “ball” may be few-thousand-pound mass of steel and rubber, and the “court” may be the track it’s on.  As to which sounds much more difficult, more appealing, and more unique? You decide.

Jordan Reyes & Sari Zureiqat

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