There are many arguments for and against auto racing being a sport. This shouldn’t be an argument in my eyes. To understand this argument one needs to know what type of auto racing people are saying that is a sport.
Automobile racing has been around as long as there have been automobiles. Every sixteen year old kid weather they will admit it or not has raced someone or even the clock in their car. There aren’t very many teenage males that can honestly say they have never drag raced anyone either. This type of racing is not however a sport in my eyes. There is no stress on the body, and not any practice needed to participate in this. This is the reason that most people believe that auto racing is not a sport.
The type of racing mentioned above is not what most people consider auto racing and neither do I. Auto racing occurs on ovals, drag strips, and road courses all across the world. No matter what kind of race track a driver is on it is strenuous, both physically and mentally. Drag racers do not have to have the endurance that drivers who race on other types of tracks has to have. They are only actually driving for usually less than eight seconds, some can be even less than four. However, don’t let the short amount of time that they are driving fool you. The amount of g-forces that they encounter in that short amount of time is unbelievable. It also takes great hand eye coordination to time the lights like they do. The reaction time (time from when the light turns green until the car starts moving) will usually decide the race if both cars have clean runs. Keeping the car straight down the track is also very hard to do, especially at speeds over 320 miles per hour.
Road course racing is the hardest form or racing that there is. There are many different types of vehicles that drive on this type of course, including go-karts, sports cars, stock cars, and indy cars. The reason that road course racing is so difficult is the many different turns that a driver will encounter during a lap of an event from s-curves to hairpins. This is not the only obstacle that drivers have to overcome, as they will also have to overcome drivers fighting over the same piece of track not only in the turns but also in the straight-aways. This has a constant mental strain on the driver as he is constantly listening to his crew, and using his peripheral vision to see around him. Rain is a huge obstacle to fight especially in open cockpit cars when the rain is hitting directly on their helmet, then it is next to impossible to see. Endurance is what really makes some road racing hard, especially if a driver is in a 24 hour race, like the 24 Hours of Daytona. Even though there are three to four drivers to a car, the drivers are completely exhausted, as they will have to drive around atleast six hours apiece during the race. They will also get little if any sleep, because of the noise and adrenaline that will limit the sleep that they will get during the race.
Oval racing, is also very straining on the body. This includes stock cars (NASCAR), go karts, indy cars, and sprint cars. Nascar drivers are among the best athletes in the world. This is not really seen to someone who is not a race fan though. It seems that there is no “middle” either you like racing or you don’t there really isn’t the “middle” that their is in other sports. If you don’t think that a Nascar driver is an athlete, just imagine the following circumstances. The first obstacle that you would deal with would be extreme heat, the temperature inside the cockpit of the car would be atleast 150 degrees constantly. The safety equipment doesn’t help with heat, or comfort either. The fire suit that a driver is required to wear is very hot, even at room temperature because of the thickness and the fire proof insulation. The full face helmet that most drivers wear, lets very little if any air in, and makes it almost impossible to wipe your face, eyes, etc.. If that is not enough, the most heat in the cockpit goes directly on the feet, even with the fire wall and the heat reducing shoes. The seats that are used aren’t the most comfortable, but are getting better in both safety and comfort. The seats aren’t near as bad as far as comfort as the seat belt. All stock cars use either a five or six point harness, one over each shoulder, one over each side of the lap, and one over each leg around the groin. The six belts are mounted to the roll cage, and latch in the center of the driver in the midsection of the body. The seat belts are tightened so tight that it hurts, and lots of times it will leave a bruise. The physical and mental strain of maintain a constant focus for three hours plus also takes a toll. When racing, losing focus for less than a second can not only cost a driver a race, it could cost them their life. There is a lot of strain on the body over the three hours, drivers can lose from 10 to 15 pounds during a race, and are constantly under g-forces. This takes losts of training, not only strength, but also cardiovascular training. Some drivers will spend three to five hours a day working out in a gym, just to be in shape to drive at their maximum potential.
Racing is not viewed as a sport all the time. When someone says this to me, I believe that they are very uninformed, and do not realize what goes in to the car before and during the race. In my eyes, race car drivers are some of the best athletes in the world, and therefore, racing should be considered a sport. In closing if someone still doesn’t agree with me I have one simple question for them, When they look at the sports section in the paper, or watch Sportscenter etc., is there highlights or stories of racing in their? End of argument, case closed.