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Motorsports: 14 Disadvantages and Risks (Costs, Injuries, …)

You are amped to become a motorsports hero. You can do nothing else but dream of climbing into the driver’s seat, clutching the steering wheel, and zooming off along the track. But hold on; do you know about the possible risks of being a race driver? In any type of motorsport, there are risks and disadvantages involved. The motorsport industry is highly entertaining, but it presents several drawbacks to the drivers (and, of course, the pit crew).

I have recently found myself thinking about just how risky motorsports are. Those who get behind the wheel to race, as well as those who provide backup in the pit, take on a considerable amount of risk. It is important to know what you are getting yourself into before you follow a career in the motorsport world.

As you can tell by reading the title of the article, there is more to being a race driver in the motorsports world than just getting into the driver’s seat and speeding around the track. To ensure that you become the best possible motorsports pro you can be, you need to understand the below-mentioned risks/disadvantages and know how you feel about them.

These are 14 disadvantages and risks of motorsports:

1. Dehydration.

A racecar driver loses a great deal of bodily fluid while racing as a result of exposure to extreme heat within the car. Drivers are connected to a drink system, which helps them to remain hydrated. There is usually a button on the steering wheel that is pressed, allowing water to be squirted into his mouth inside his helmet. There have been instances in F1 racing where the drinks system has not worked correctly or has not been properly connected.  

2. Overheating (or heat exhaustion).

In the NASCAR, the temperature inside the car can be around 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That is extremely high, and it can become even hotter inside, depending on weather conditions. As a result, there is always the risk of possible heat exhaustion. 

3. Possible burns.

It is said that certain components of an F1 car can reach around 2,600 degrees Celsius. Aluminum melts at 660 degrees Celsius – just for a reference. In case of an accident, the driver or pit crew member can suffer serious burns. 

4. Injury with long term recovery required.

Recovering from an injury can be hard. Having an accident on the track is not always fatal, but it can result in a lengthy recovery period and missing out on future races. The recovery period for a driver can be long, as well as expensive. The more time a driver spends in recovery, the worse it is for his career. 

5. Potential death.

The death of the driver is, unfortunately, a serious risk to consider. While every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of drivers, the sheer nature of the sport puts drivers at risk as well as those in the pit. There have been numerous deaths on the motorsports tracks over the years.

6. The cost involved.

Another of the more inconvenient disadvantages of motorsports is the costs involved. Before you become a rich and famous motorsports driver, you are going to have to spend quite a bit of money on practice vehicles, equipment, and driver’s kit. Of course, when you first start racing and damage your own vehicle, the cost is yours to take care of too. 

7. Extensive travel involved.

This one is a double-edged sword. Traveling a lot can be fun and exciting, but not so much when it takes you away from your family and friends. When a race car driver starts making a name for himself in the motorsports world, he will need to attend races, events, and similar. Most F1 and NASCAR drivers travel extensively, leaving very little time for family and friends. 

8. Possible hearing loss.

The average NASCAR race pushes out 100 decibels! That is extremely loud. Many race car drivers start to suffer hearing loss as a result. In fact, Richard Petty, who won 200 NASCAR races, now wears bilateral hearing aids. Even with the hearing aids, it is said that he struggles to hear.

9. Exposure to fumes.

Depending on the type of car being raced, drivers are generally well protected from the fumes of the engine. There are instances, however, where the vehicle has been damaged, causing the sealed crash panels that are between the cockpit and engine to allow toxic fumes to leak in. This can have a negative impact on the health of the driver. 

10. Increased stress and anxiety.

On the track and in motorsports in general, there is a lot of pressure to perform. All eyes are on you – the world is watching, and everything you do is scrutinized both on and off the track. You have to be careful about your public image, and you have to be the very best you can be on the track. This kind of pressure can lead to a lot of excess stress and anxiety, especially when things do not go according to plan (think about not placing in a race). 

The more stress and anxiety a race car driver experiences, the more difficult it becomes to be happy and positive. 

11. Negative impact on the environment. 

There is no denying the fact that the motorsport industry has a carbon footprint that is somewhat mammoth in size. The F1 industry generates 256,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year! While this is currently negative, the F1 industry has pledged to make the sport carbon neutral by 2030! They have also pledged that by 2025, all Grand Prix will be fully sustainable. 

12. Extreme, sudden weight loss in a race.

You probably did not know this, but in a race, a race car driver (this is based on F1 stats) loses about 3 kg in body weight! It is said that a driver can burn around 1,500 calories during just one race. If the driver loses more than around 3% of his body weight in sweat, he will start to lose focus and experience slower reflexes. This is why it is so important for a race car driver to be in peak physical condition and to keep hydrated while on the track.

13. Loads of time spent doing physical fitness training.

F1 and other race car drivers are considered to be some of the fittest athletes around. Any excess weight can lead to excess fluid loss during the sauna effect in the vehicle during a race. 

Simon Reynolds from McLaren Applied Technologies made the following statement in an article in The Telegraph

“There is a misconception that because F1 drivers are seated, they are not doing a lot, which could not be further from the truth. They are probably some of the fittest athletes around”.

Simon Reynolds

Most people think that F1 drivers spend all their time on the race track; that is actually not true. First and foremost, F1 drivers usually spend their time working out and keeping fit. 

14. The rules and regulations.

You might be wondering why I mentioned the rules of the sport. How on earth can the rules be risky or present a disadvantage? 

The rules in motorsport can become quite annoying and obstructive for the driver. When the driver really wants to take a chance or speed ahead, the rules of the race might keep him hanging back or following a completely different strategy. If you do not like listening to other people or taking instruction, you could find this particular point quite a major disadvantage. 

To be a race car driver might seem like a one-man sport, but it is, in fact, a team sport governed by rules and regulations.

Still Chomping at the Bit to Get Out There on the Race Track?

While these possible risks and disadvantages are real, it is important to realize that they are simply part and parcel of the motorsport package. If you have what it takes and are dedicated to the practice of your sport, these should seem like minuscule risks that are well worth taking. Whatever you decide; good luck!