Perhaps no other activity arouses as much – or as little – passion as racing. For every fan who loves watching high-powered machines race around a track, there’s another person who considers the idea to be as thrilling as watching paint dry. But even those who don’t consider motorsports their cup of tea should be grateful that the sport exists for one simple reason: the advancements racing has led to have made driving safer and more pleasant for all of us. Here are some examples:
Brakes: Disc brakes have been standard on production cars for decades, and with good reason. They offer better performance and safety than their drum-brake predecessors. But discs weren’t invented so that mom and pop could have it easy on the daily commute. They were introduced in the 1950s specifically for racing purposes, to give drivers more control over their vehicles at high speeds.
Carbon Fiber, et al: Race cars use state-of-the-art engines and ultra-light materials to give their drivers an edge on the track. This is common knowledge, but what’s less well-known is that they also employ cutting-edge safety measures. One of these, the roll cage, is intended to cushion the driver should the vehicle go out of control. The idea is so good that automakers include similar crash cages in regular vehicles. While they’re expertly hidden behind layers of carpet and interior molding, the protection is still very real.
Four wheel independent suspension: It is one of those terms that car salespeople can repeat in their sleep, they say it so often. But what does it mean? It refers to wheels mounted separately from each other to the chassis. That way if one hits a bump or a pot hole the other three will stay in contact with the road surface. This allows motorists to stay in control of their vehicles, even under harsh driving conditions. Of course, like so many other innovations, it was originally developed for racing.
What other automotive improvements have come directly from the world of high-speed competition? Here’s a partial list: direct-shift gearboxes, cold air intakes, advanced materials like carbon fiber, and dual overhead camshafts. So the next time you hear the roar of engines, take a moment to remember what racing has done for drivers everywhere, not just those who make their living from going fast.
Photo Credits: HD Wallpapers Top, Mustang Monthly