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Are the people who race autos athletes?

PotomacBob

Are the people who drive race cars athletes? Is auto racing a sport?

Vlad_Inhaler

I think you will find that they are extremely fit, hell - top chess players have been keeping themselves really fit for decades now.
To your second question, define "sport". Probably yes.

Replies:   Ross at Play
pcbondsman

@PotomacBob

PotomacBob

Are the people who drive race cars athletes? Is auto racing a sport?


Good questions without good answers. Why? It depends on the definition of the two words an individual chooses to use. I'll still take a stab at it.

"Is auto racing a sport?" My thinking is no, it isn't. No more so at least than other professional "sports" such as football (either US or the rest of the world), basketball, baseball, etc. At least at the professional level the game becomes a "show". Over the years the rules of most, if not all, those games (including auto racing) have been altered to make them more of a show. I.E. more appealing to the spectators.

Are the people who race auto athletes? Yes, though the skills and body conditioning required to excel are rather different than in most "sports".

Written with a certain amount of bias as I wait to depart for car races tonight. :)

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Vlad_Inhaler

To your second question, define "sport". Probably yes.

Is there a clear trend for declining performance after middle age? At the top level, yes.
I consider auto racing, chess, even golf, to be sports.

Replies:   Jim S
Jim S
Updated:

@Ross at Play


At the top level, yes.

I consider auto racing, chess, even golf, to be sports.


I agree with you at least as far as chess is concerned. It's really surprising how physically demanding it is. Yea, I didn't stutter; I meant physically. At least it was for me. When younger, I competed in tournaments. Even though I was not what would be considered a high level, I'd still lose 7-10 pounds during a weekend tournament. That would be Saturday & Sunday generally five rounds (games).

Those playing at the world class level might lose five pounds during one game. I don't know why it is but I know it's true. Like auto racers. Same thing. The continual concentration over long periods required in competition just does something to you.

Replies:   docholladay
REP

@PotomacBob

If sport is defined as a competitive event, yes.

If athlete is defined as a person who competes in a sport where the primary factor in the competition is their physical prowess, then no. A race car driver does need skill and good reflexes, but automotive racing is predominately about the cars' performance.

Put so-so drivers in cars that perform well and the top drivers in cars that perform poorly, and the so-so drivers will win.

awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

An old UK TV series used to pit people from various 'sports' against each other in a series of athletic contests. Racing drivers were chronically unable to compete against those from disciplines requiring physical fitness.

My personal definition of sport involves a requirement for participants to get breathless. That doesn't happen when all you do is sit there and turn the steering wheel occasionally :(

AJ

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

My personal definition of sport involves a requirement for participants to get breathless.


Like curling. :)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

Like curling. :)


No form of hairdressing is a sport!

(Apologies to those who think otherwise because it's a competitive activity).

AJ

docholladay

@Jim S

The continual concentration over long periods required in competition just does something to you.


The mind is just a special type of muscle. Funny how its never been tested as to caloric usage. While every other physical activity has been calculated to some extent. Its like all those so-called experts think its usage is totally free. I noticed how when ever I pushed my mind to work harder, I lost weight faster than when I did some other form of exercise.

Banadin
Updated:

Try fighting a steering wheel at almost two hundred miles an hour, for three or more hours in 115 degree temperatures and tell me you don't have to be fit. Oh yeah and keeping your concentration on the other cars and seeing your turning spots at those speeds. Let up for a second and you could have ten or more vehicles wrapped around you and on fire. My favorite finish was at Daytona where the car finished in 18th place, upside down and on fire. No fitness required there.

Grant

@PotomacBob

Are the people who drive race cars athletes? Is auto racing a sport?

An athlete is someone that competes in Athletic events.

Auto racing is a sport- motor sport.

Replies:   richardshagrin
StarFleetCarl

@PotomacBob

Are the people who drive race cars athletes? Is auto racing a sport?


Race car drivers - professional ones, or even semi-professional ones - have to be athletic. They can't even afford to sneeze while driving. Do the math - you sneeze, your eyes WILL close, typically for at least half a second. At 180 mph, you're traveling 264 feet per second. Wide open straightaway, with no traffic around, you might be able to travel 132 feet without any issue. In a curve or with traffic around, you're now wrecked.

And yes, it's called motor sports, so it qualifies as a sport.

Replies:   Grant  Crumbly Writer
Grant

@StarFleetCarl

Race car drivers - professional ones, or even semi-professional ones - have to be athletic.

Fit- yes. Athletic- no.

richardshagrin
Updated:

@Grant


An athlete is someone that competes in Athletic events.


Merriam-Webster on line says:

"Definition of athlete

1 : a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

2 : an animal (such as a horse or a dog) that competes in races or other sporting events or has qualities (such a stamina and agility) suggestive of a human athlete"

red61544

@PotomacBob

One's viewpoint is everything. If you enjoy auto racing, it's a sport and the drivers are athletes. If you don't, they are merely drivers who have never learned to turn to the right!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Michael Loucks

@REP

If athlete is defined as a person who competes in a sport where the primary factor in the competition is their physical prowess, then no. A race car driver does need skill and good reflexes, but automotive racing is predominately about the cars' performance.


Ferrari would like to have a word with you about that after the last two F1 races.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Michael Loucks

You can always invite Ferrari to join us in the Forum. :)

Replies:   Michael Loucks
Ernest Bywater

@red61544

One's viewpoint is everything. If you enjoy auto racing, it's a sport and the drivers are athletes. If you don't, they are merely drivers who have never learned to turn to the right!


unless they participate in Grand Touring or general road racing like the Bathurst races.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

A race car driver does need skill and good reflexes, but automotive racing is predominately about the cars' performance.

And their ability to make nothing but left turns for hours on end without jumping under a passing car in frustration and boredom (from a non-race car fan, despite being raised in the south, where watching NASCAR and Demolition Derbies were as American as the Confederate Flag and the Klu Klux Klan).

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

My personal definition of sport involves a requirement for participants to get breathless. That doesn't happen when all you do is sit there and turn the steering wheel occasionally

And sweating helps (especially if you add glistening bodies to the mixture) which also rules out gold, other than on 90 degree days where sitting in the shade sipping mint juleps leaves you soaked.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@StarFleetCarl

And yes, it's called motor sports, so it qualifies as a sport.

By that definition, the car is the athlete, not the driver!

El_Sol

More of an athlete than a jockey... less of one than a cyclist.

Centaur

I guess you also don't think Rally and Motorcross racing as sports. I think you have to be a bit more than fit to do those races. Is WWE a Sport? It does say sports entertainment.

Ross at Play

@Centaur

Is WWE a Sport?

It has no contests.

StarFleet Carl

@Centaur

Is WWE a Sport?


How about something that is broadcast on ESPN? The World Series of Poker ...

And as the poster said about chess tournaments, if you haven't had to sit and be mentally on top of your game for 3 or 4 DAYS in a row ... WSOP is 7 days, and this years final table where it was down to two lasted for 12 hours ... you better be in shape, at least.

Replies:   RedCzar
Michael Loucks

@REP

You can always invite Ferrari to join us in the Forum. :)


I suspect they are too busy crying over having the fastest cars a pair of races in a row and failing to win because of mental mistakes by either the driver or the team principals.

Weather helped Mercedes this week because it put them in P1 and P2 on the grid, but Ferrari had terrible strategy and Mercedes had great strategy. Last week it was a silly mental error by Vettel that put him into the tyre barrier. Both times, with Ferrari having the best performing car overall. :-)

RedCzar

@StarFleet Carl

So Scrabble tournaments? Monopoly? Professional video gamers? I knew people in college who would play Dungeons & Dragons for days. Does that make all of them athletes as well?

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

And sweating helps ... which also rules out [golf]

Does it really matter when the athlete sweats? Isn't it enough that someone must spend hours in the gym every week to maintain their performance levels?

I'm not an athlete when I play golf, unable to hit a ball 200 yards. The guys who can hit 350 yards with a high degree of accuracy certainly are.

Replies:   PotomacBob
MindMedic

Looking at from a physiological standpoint, I feel yes it is. Driving (successfully) at high speeds requires excellent coordination, the ability to maintain a high level of concentration for long periods of time and strength to use both. The ability to react appropriately to often very dangerous events places tremendous stress on the body and mind. Consider the amount of emotional, physical and mental stress needed to survive the threat of much less the actuality of a wreck. Racing is one of the most hazardous sports that exists today.

Replies:   REP
PotomacBob

@Ross at Play

So - T-ball and Little League baseballers are NOT playing sports, while Major Leaguers are?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@PotomacBob

So - T-ball and Little League baseballers are NOT playing sports, while Major Leaguers are?

That's not what I said.

Replies:   PotomacBob
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Personally, I would say a jockey is far more of an athlete than a race car driver. When racing, jockeys only make left turns. :)

REP

@MindMedic

Your description of what it takes to drive a car at high speeds in a race matches what it take to be a professional assassin. I certainly wouldn't consider assassination to be a sport.

Replies:   Michael Loucks
Michael Loucks

@REP

I certainly wouldn't consider assassination to be a sport.


And yet I suspect there are some people who do...

Replies:   REP
REP

@Michael Loucks

Yes, making the hit and getting away with it is a form of competition. :)

PotomacBob

@Ross at Play

What I understood you to be saying was that people who are good at golf (hit a ball 350 yards) were playing sports, but that others playing golf, who were not as good, were not playing sports. Did I misunderstand your intent?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@PotomacBob

Did I misunderstand your intent?

Yes. I said I consider elite-level golfers to be athletes, but I am no athlete when I play golf.

I did not say whether I considered golf to be a sport. Personally, I do, but I'm not going to debate that with those who don't.

RedCzar

the real question is Cheerleading, is it a sport or not?

Perhaps that's a whole different post.

Replies:   Ross at Play  PotomacBob
Ross at Play

@RedCzar

the real question is Cheerleading, is it a sport or not?

To be a sport the athletes must be the ones sweating, not the spectators.

Replies:   Centaur
Centaur

@Ross at Play

To be a sport the athletes must be the ones sweating


So when I have cash riding on the game and sweating that I'm losing. I'm an athlete?

Replies:   Ross at Play
PotomacBob

@RedCzar

I know some cheerleaders work extremely hard to be every bit as good at what they do as, say, football players to at their sport. Of course, girl cheerleaders don't sweat. They perspire.

Replies:   madnige
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Centaur

So when I have cash riding on the game and sweating that I'm losing. I'm an athlete?

No. I suggested it wouldn't matter that a spectator's cash is sweating, or even the spectators themselves, it's the athletes sweating that could make it a sport.

madnige

@PotomacBob

Of course, girl cheerleaders don't sweat. They perspire.


Horses sweat
Gentlemen perspire
Ladies glow

Replies:   PotomacBob
Jay Cantrell

I didn't read the entire thread so I apologize if somebody else made this point.

I was a sports writer for a few years at the start of my journey in the print media. One of the places I work has a major speedway and hosted NASCAR and it's minor league (whatever it's called now).

I covered racing for a year and while it might not be a sport, it's participants are definitely athletes. I takes as much physical skill to navigate a vehicle through a banked turn at 200 mph as it takes to hit a cut fastball coming at you from 60 feet 6 inches away.

It takes as much athleticism to keep a 1.5-ton piece of machinery inches away from another vehicle at 200 mph as it does to dunk a basketball or shoot a three-pointer.

The amount of skill and precision -- the muscle memory and practice and vision -- required to compete professionally in such a grueling sport is unfathomable to people who have never done it.

I took a ride with an elite driver on the speedway where I worked. We didn't get much over 100 mph and we were alone on the track but sitting beside him as he drove gave me a new appreciation of the level of athlete these drivers truly are.

Just my thoughts,
Jay C.

Replies:   John Demille
John Demille

@Jay Cantrell

We didn't get much over 100 mph and we were alone on the track but sitting beside him as he drove gave me a new appreciation of the level of athlete these drivers truly are.


Driving a race car is very physically demanding.

I know for sure rally racers must be physically very fit. I raced in a Peugeot in my younger years and handling a car on a rally track was gruelling. I had to work out every day and at one point had to add special neck exercises in order to avoid whiplashes when the wheels left the ground and landed again.

Has anyone here seen a formula one driver's neck?

https://scoopempire.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/1458061527749.jpg

I remember seeing a program about a promotion done by one racing team where they ran a contest for a racing video game player and the winner gets to drive the actual car on a track

The winner looked physically ok and supposedly drove almost as well as a professional driver, regarding to timing of turns and brakes and acceleration, but he had to stop after three laps on the track. He couldn't handle the physical demand of driving that high powered machine on the curves as it drained him.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

I agree driving a car at high speeds is physically demanding, driving a gokart (a racing one, not just a hire kart) is extremely physically demanding, but I don't consider many of the drivers to be athletic. Some of the drivers are because they do additional training. But the majority of drivers- fit, yes. Stamina, yes. Endurance, yes. But athletic, no.

Grant

@John Demille

I had to work out every day and at one point had to add special neck exercises in order to avoid whiplashes when the wheels left the ground and landed again.

Hence why there is such a wide range of neck braces for racing.

PotomacBob

@madnige

I stand corrected.

Remus2
Updated:

There are a large number of activities that require physical and mental conditioning. In my opinion, the difference is in application.

A spec ops soldier is highly conditioned, but not designated as an athlete. Their activities are not designated as a sport either.

Yet they could, and in some cases have, applied their conditioning to both sports and the associated athleticism.

The same can be said for many other professions. Therefore it comes down to application.

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