Auto Manifesto

September 13, 2008

The Future of Motorsport Part 2

First and foremost racing exists to entertain participants and spectators. If it doesn’t do this it doesn’t exist.

How racing fits into the bigger picture, beyond entertainment, is that it should serve three roles. The first is to create consumer interest in advanced technology, which creates demand and markets. Secondly, it should spur technical innovation that has relevance to the larger issues of energy and transportation. Finally, it should encourage education in math and science and help develop future generations of innovators. All the while it must position itself as environmentally sustainable, not just with image but with actions.

Where racing is headed seems fairly clear. Electricity is definitely going to be the automotive energy source of the future. That means in the future there will be electric racing at many levels. It’s simply a matter of time.

Next, many existing race tracks were built in places that are far from population centers. Examples of these include permanent tracks like Road America, Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca, Mosport, and Road Atlanta. There is a tremendous environmental impact when tens of thousands of people travel to rural or far away destinations to attend races. Conversely, it is not suitable to have those same tracks in densely populated areas due to community opposition to noise and emissions. Racing has to come to the people while being able to accommodate community concerns.

Thirdly, with a limitless variety of recreational opportunities now available to the public, racing has to deliver more value to maintain and grow its base. The trend is moving from spectator to participant. People don’t just want to watch racing on TV. They want to be able to experience it in rich media on their terms as well as have the choice of actually racing. The sport will attract more drivers if it provides the arena for them to race in.

In the end, it always comes back to fundamentals. For motorsport that means establishing stable rules, attracting a large audience, and (most importantly) providing good, close racing on the track.

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