Safety shmafety, where’s the danger in motorsports?

I just finished watching the 1956 F1 season review and it got me thinking of the correlation between racing and danger.

We’ve all been under some form of stress and felt our blood pressure rise as our adrenal glands released epinephrine in to our bloodstream. Some think it’s uncomfortable so they try to avoid it, but to others it’s a rush and they feed off it. The later group has earned the name “adrenaline junkies” and they’re responsible for every sport worth exerting energy. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the same epinephrine addicts were the first to race cars and motorcycles

During the 1956 F1 grand prix at Spa Sterling Moss lost a wheel at over 100 mph. If that happened today the red flag would come out and the race would come to a stand-still. Not in ’56 though, Moss just moved his car to the side of the road and sprints not but ten feet away from the track all the way back to the pits to get in a new Masariti and continue racing.

When watching old seasons of F1 and Group B Rallies I feel that the danger factor is what made these sports popular. These drivers and co-drivers were out there risking life and limb just to stay in the front of the pack or clock a faster time down the unbeaten path. Granted, the racers of today are still doing the same thing but with the technological advances and growing restrictions these sports have become a bore to watch for the most part. I’ve almost lost interest in rally racing actually. I’ve followed the WRC for a few years now and I’ve actually been to multiple WRC events but during the ’08 season all I’ve done is read the event caps to see how the SWRT is doing. Now, F1 is another story. With all the changes coming about for the 2008 season, specifically the standardized ECU and loss of launch and traction control, I had high hopes for an entertaining year and the first meeting at Albert Park in Melbourne confirmed. There was all sorts of drama that kept me from even blinking for 58 laps straight. Afterwards I was thinking, “F1 is back!” right up until Jackie Stewart started harassing Lewis Hamilton for not joining the Drivers’ Association and publicly saying things like, “Somebody is going to get killed. It has been 13 years and 11 months since the death of Ayrton Senna. It is like an air crash. You can't go without something going wrong somewhere. And somebody will die…” Wait, you mean to tell me that men traveling at over 200 mph while fighting adhesion and one another might end in them crashing and possibly dying!? Come off it Sir Stewart, these guys know the risks they’re taking and that’s part of what makes Formula 1 the pinnacle of motorsports.

Enough ranting, I’m going to watch one of the last entertaining motor racing series, touring cars…