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6 Reasons Auto Racing Should NOT Be Considered a Sport!

What is the deal with auto racing? Is it a sport, isn’t it a sport? If you are anything like me and like to read through auto racing forums and blogs, you might have also noticed that this is a point that many people like to argue about. Some say auto racing is definitely a sport, and on the other side of the argument, the naysayers are just as passionate in their belief that auto racing is not a sport. 

After watching some of the Grand Prix Circuit, I thought I would take a look at the perspective of those who do not think that auto racing should be called sport. 

6 reasons why auto racing should not be considered a sport:

  1. Controlling a machine to win a contest doesn’t align with the definition of “sport”.
  2. Peak physical condition is not essential or required for auto racing. 
  3. It is mainly the car’s abilities and capacity being tested, not the racer’s.
  4. The tools of the sport are not all equal.
  5. The drivers of the vehicles are not actually athletes.
  6. The racing driver receives external aid to complete the competition. 

Both Wikipedia and Britannica describe auto racing as a “motorsport” or “automobile sport”; and not just a “sport”. That is food for thought, isn’t it? If you had to decide the definition of auto racing, would you say that it is a sport for humans or a sport for machines, given that it’s the machine mostly doing the physical work? 

Of course, there are arguments that are pretty compelling from both sides. Whether you consider auto racing to be a sport or not is entirely up to you. But before you decide, let’s do a little exercise. Let’s take a closer look at the arguments that do not support auto racing as a sport. Read on. 

Auto Racing is Not a Sport – Here are 6 Reasons Why

I must admit that I got completely caught up when doing my research. I stumbled onto a thread where people were discussing whether auto racing should be a sport or not, and I couldn’t help but notice that there seems to be considerable support from both sides of the spectrum. It seems that fans and non-fans of auto racing all have quite passionate outlooks on its status as a sport (or not). 

I found it most interesting to read all the viewpoints. I noticed that the reasons why auto racing is not a sport can be argued either way, but let’s take a look at what the general consensus is among people who believe this.

1. Controlling a machine to win a contest does not align with the definition of “sport”.

In terms of the definition of a sport and what auto racing is, do you think that it fits in with the description? Is what a racing driver does really a sport to you? For many, it is. I had to give this one a long hard look (and think). I had to give some thought to the actual meaning of the word “sport”. 

Generally speaking, a sport is defined as a contest between two people or two groups of people. Characteristics include human physical strength, endurance, and agility. It’s reasonable to argue that auto racing does not mainly fall into these categories. It is the car, its engine, and design that mostly ensure wins – compared to the physicality of the actual driver. Controlling a machine to win at a task does not make you an actual athlete.

2. Peak physical condition is not essential or required for auto racing. 

In just about any sport you can think of the athletes involved live an extremely healthy lifestyle for the benefit of their performance on the track, in the field, in the ring, and so on. Sportsmen and women work out a lot, but do race car drivers do the same? 

There is no denying the fact that being in good shape has its advantages on the race track (or course), but one might argue that there is no real need to be in peak physical condition. An unhealthy and unfit race driver in a powerful racing car has every chance of winning as a healthy and fit race driver in the same car. For example, let’s take NASCAR drivers; they don’t really need to be in great shape. Tony Stewart, a NASCAR champion, is known for not being in great shape compared to his counterparts. 

3. It is mainly the car’s abilities and capacity being tested, not the racing driver’s.

To truly understand why some people don’t think auto racing is a sport, you have to take a look at how the event is carried out. Is the athlete being tested, or is it the car? Honestly speaking, when a racing driver is out there on the track, it is the car that is being pushed to its limits and tested and not really the human. 

Australian F1 driver, Daniel Ricciardo, said the following about the discussion:

“The car is a big part of it, but you need to be a good driver to get the equipment to the top. You need both. It’s still a bit more dominant with the car than the driver — I’d say maybe 75 percent to 25 percent.”

Daniel Ricciardo

Without the vehicle, the race car driver would not achieve such speed or impress quite so many people. Even watching a Formula 1 race shows the same drivers winning the top spots race after race, and that is because the vehicle they are driving is superior to the others. It would be interesting to put F1 drivers into each other’s vehicles to see how they do when driving a completely different make and model of car. 

4. The tools of the sport are not all equal.

In certain sports, there are tools involved. In tennis, players have tennis rackets. In swimming, contestants have similar goggles and swim caps – and so on, but this is not the case with auto racing. 

As mention has already been made of the vehicle’s abilities being put to the test, it makes sense to mention that not all auto racing vehicles competing against each other are made equal. Let’s take F1 vehicles, for instance. The entire point of the race is to prove that one brand and make is superior to the rest in terms of speed and handling. If auto racing truly was a sport, it would involve the racing of the same vehicle so that it is the athlete’s skill and agility put to the test. 

5. The drivers of the vehicles are not actually ‘athletes’.

I have often heard race car drivers being referred to as athletes, and I am not quite sure how to process that. Athletes are typically highly physical individuals. They sport good builds because they spend a considerable amount of time exercising, training, and ensuring that their bodies are in peak physical condition. 

The driver of a racing car can train physically, but the type of training is far less intense than that of a dedicated sports pro playing football or running track. Granted, being fit and in shape will help the body handle the heat and react better to the G force expected in a racing car, but that is about as far as the requirement for being athletic actually goes. 

6. The racing driver receives external aid to complete the competition. 

When competing in a sport as an individual, it is up to that individual to make sure that they perform and win. When it comes to auto racing, there is an entire team helping the driver to win. Pit crew are available to a race car driver and provide various support services to ensure that he wins. These include changing tires, fixing damages, or making sure that the vehicle is quickly replaced. 

If you take a look at some sporting events that are undeniably sports, you will notice that athletes don’t receive external assistance. In some races, helping an athlete who has fallen or collapsed before the finish line is not allowed – it could mean that they are excluded from the race results and miss out on their possible win or points. This is food for thought, I think. 

Last Word

It’s quite clear why some people consider auto racing to be something other than a sport. It is understandable that for some, the fact that drivers have to undergo severe temperatures, exposure to G-force, and grueling stamina to keep up, that makes them sportsmen and the task they are doing, ‘a sport’. For others, the value for sport goes a little deeper than controlling a machine around a track and then accepting a prize based on the machine’s performance. What do you think?