Racing Provides a New Hobby


NASCAR drivers race hard in a 2018 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Labeled for reuse by Wikimedia Commons.

Although modern motorsports have faltered in popularity in recent years compared to more accessible sports like football, basketball, baseball, or hockey, COVID has returned a portion of the sports fanbase to numerous forms of motorsport.

Many contribute racing’s fall from grace to the rising costs of an amateur racing career. Entry fees for local tracks, car repairs, new sets of tires, and expensive racing fuel, not to mention the upfront cost of purchasing a racecar, can turn potential racers away from racing and towards more feasible sports. As such, racing has earned a reputation of being an old man’s sport, with retired, wealthy men cluttering the track at amateur events across the country.

It is the opinion of many that this needs to change. Programs such as the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) NEXT program aim to bring young, talented drivers into the sport. These programs often seek out minority drivers and have succeeded in diversifying the sport.

NASCAR Vice President of Industry Services Jill Gregory stated in an article by Bleacher Report, “This program provides a platform to help foster their growth within our sport and introduce these young and talented drivers to NASCAR fans.”

Many fans find themselves liking numerous forms of racing and tuning in during a TV broadcast or even spectating at a local track, but rarely view themselves as capable of entering the motorsports world. In a sport like football, fans will often play in a rec league, or if they’re young and talented enough, could even pursue a career in professional football, while motorsports remain out of reach.

“I was never really interested in racing, but during quarantine, I got into it a little bit more because there wasn’t much else to do,” commented junior Mason Birch.

The inaccessibility of motorsports across the world is not new. For decades, only the privileged received opportunities to race professionally. Peter Revson, a Formula 1 racer in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, was the heir to the Revlon cosmetics fortune, funding his racing career entirely. This is all too common throughout history, potentially alienating fans who may not be the benefactor of a worldwide fortune.

So how does the inaccessibility of racing for normal fans affect general popularity?

In virtually every form of televised racing, the connection to the drivers is minimal compared to another sport such as baseball, where players can even be fitted with a microphone to hear conversations and feel as if they’re a member of the team. Although motorsports as a whole have made huge strides towards making the events more accessible to fans, it will likely never reach the same level of inclusion as other major sports.

During COVID-19, many individuals across the world are picking up new hobbies such as crocheting, painting, fitness, or learning about new sports. Choose racing as a hobby next.