However much some of the traditional motorsport fans may resent it, racing – and manufacturer involvement in racing – is under ever-increasing pressure to be “relevant.” And it's unrealistic to think that this expectation will ever go away.
Just as manufacturers have always been criticized for their racing programs if they were simultaneously letting go of factory workers, so, too, it's increasingly difficult for a car-building company to justify its on-track activities as simply a marketing exercise. The “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” philosophy holds as true as ever, but car buyers are more sophisticated, more questioning and more environmentally conscious. They want to know what won on Sunday, and how that has a bearing on their potential purchase the following day.
NASCAR's the anomaly, seeking to provide pure entertainment. But be in no doubt that it, too, will evolve into something more technically relevant and socially acceptable than iron block V8s. The public and, in turn, the manufacturers will demand it.
But for now, it's road racing that leads the way in the relevancy stakes. Formula E intends to build its campaign around its alternative technology credentials. Formula 1 is about to introduce small-capacity turbocharged engines allied to energy recovery systems. Sports car racing's adoption of hybrid technology continues to set a fine example of how advances in racecars can transfer to the cars we all drive each day. Closer to home, IndyCar's adoption of smaller, turbocharged, direct injection engines is light years ahead of its pre-2012 spec.
Costs are the other theme to this, The Business & Technology Issue of RACER, now making its way to subscribers and book stores. Much of what we've unearthed is genuinely eye-opening, and reinforces just how much the privateers put into this sport we love.
Fifty years ago, one such privateer was Bruce McLaren. Don't miss Pete Lyons' appreciation of the Kiwi's Can-Am cars.
Also on tap in the Business and Technology Issue:
• THE FORMULA 1 MONEY MACHINE
Where the big bucks come from...and where they go
• FROM THE VOLTS
Formula E promises race fans an electrifying spectacle
• THE RACER INTERVIEW
• INDYCAR'S ROAD TO RELEVANCE
Lucas Luhr and Oliver Gavin, the benchmarks in prototype
and GTs, on sports car racing's future in the USA
Finding wriggle room in topline racing's tightest tech regs
• LE MANS AT THE CUTTING EDGE
Audi vs. Toyota vs. Porsche in a high-tech LMP1 war
• CASE STUDY: AT THE SHARP END
Scott Sharp on double duty as a driver and team owner
• REGIONAL REIGN
• FORMULA 1'S “OTHER GUYS”
The five most influential people in U.S. road racing
The team manager's dilemma on choosing a second driver
• All this and much more can be found in the Fall issue of RACER magazine. To subscribe now at a special discount rate, click here, or to learn where to buy RACER in your area, click here. You can also purchase single copies directly at RacerMerch.com.