The Road Not Taken: The “Other” Kinds of Motor Racing


When people hear the terms “motor racing,” they are likely to automatically think of cars. Formula One racing comes to mind, as perhaps does the somewhat “edgier” world of automobile (illegal) street racing as glamorized in The Fast and the Furious and its sequels. However, there are other types of street racing that involve different types of vehicles.

Motor racing comprises contests between a wide range of vehicles. Actually, motor racing is not even limited to just land vehicles, but may involve aircraft, as well. (Small planes, of course. One does not conduct races between, say, Boeing 747s.) Air racing is actually one of the oldest kinds of motor racing, with events being traced at least as far back as 1909. We can also say that these competitive events had major historical impact. The drive to make better, faster planes for competitions is considered by some to have ended up infiltrating military technology, thus contributing to the huge advances in plane technology between the World Wars.

Lawnmower racing is also quite popular in some areas of the United States, particularly the Midwest. People modify their ridem or self-propelled lawnmowers. As per the rules, the original lawnmower engine has to be kept on, and grass-cutting blades must be taken off so as not to endanger the driver or other contestants. The capital of lawnmower racing can be said to be in Twelve Mile, Indiana, the site of the Twelve Mile 500. Lawnmower racing has also made its way into pop culture, where it has been featured in films and TV shows. The sport has also been making headway in Australia. The semi-legendary origin story of Australian motor racing involves (surprisingly, or perhaps not) alcohol: it is said that the very first lawnmower race in Australia was an unplanned contest between five drunken friends. Despite its somewhat limited audience as compared to other motor sports, an inclusive spirit does operate in lawnmower racing in the sense that drivers tend to have wide age ranges.

Motorcycle racing is also quite exciting, perhaps because it is easier to see the actual persons operating the vehicles. The world of motorcycle racing is also extremely varied. For instance, there are different kinds of bikes and racecourses. Sometimes, racing takes place on a conventional oval track. Other times, the track surface is such that drivers power slide their bikes around bends. This is called speedway racing, requires nerves of steel, and can take place on shale, ice, and other types of surfaces. Then there are the endurance events, which not only challenge the stamina of the bikers, but also the durability of their bikes. A bike that does brilliantly on a short track can, after all, fall apart quite early on a very long race.

As you can see, motor racing as about a great deal more than just cars. If you are already interested in car races, you might try looking into the other events, even though their profile is not as high as, say, the Formula One Grand Prix. You will have a wider range of events to follow, and may even try joining the more DIY-friendly ones yourself.