Motorsports are hugely popular around the world, and fans of these sports are hard-core supporters who devote a lot of time and money to cheering on their favorite drivers or teams.
F1 races regularly attract crowds in the hundreds of thousands, most of whom turn up for all the qualifying sessions, as well as the race itself. NASCAR also pulls in huge crowds, while the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the famous Indy 500 race, can hold over 250,000 spectators. And the stadium is always full on the day of the Indy 500.
The Le Mans 24-hour race is another iconic contest which really pulls in the crowds, with more than 250,000 turning up to watch the 2018 FIA World Endurance Race at the famous French track. However, eOwvereven that figure pales in comparison with the record attendance for this demanding contest; that honor belongs to the 400,000 people who watched the race in 1969.
Ask those dedicated motorsports fans to tell you about the history of the race, the mechanics of the cars involved, and the biographies of their favorite drivers and they will probably be able to talk for hours. And yet there are some unusual things that happen on race tracks and in the world of motorsports that even the most ardent fan won’t know about….
20 Tires Filled With Nitrogen Instead Of Compressed Air
The tires on regular cars are filled with compressed air, but that’s just a little too normal for race cars. Weight is hugely important when it comes to gaining even just a few hundredths of a second advantage over your competitors.
This is why F1, Nascar, and Indycar racing all spend a lot of money on developing super-lightweight components from which to construct their vehicles.
Motorsports teams also use nitrogen to fill their cars' tires instead of boring old compressed air, as nitrogen alone is much lighter than the combination of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon monoxide and other gases which make up the air in normal tires.
19 Many Motorsports Have No Rules On Emissions
When it comes to making new cars for sale to the public, car manufacturers now have to follow some pretty strict rules on vehicle emissions, which have been introduced and implemented in recent years in a bid to tackle the problems caused by pollution and climate change.
However, many motorsports find themselves exempt from such emissions rules, meaning that teams can run any cars they choose, no matter how polluting their exhaust fumes.
Some have called for sports like NASCAR to take a more environmentally friendly approach, and to start using electric cars, but the sport so far seems unwilling to embrace green technology.
18 Racing Tires Are Designed To Last Less Than 200 Miles
Most motorists would be very disappointed if they got less than 50,000 miles from a new set of tires – and they would be really angry if they only lasted 200 miles before needing to be replaced. However, in motorsports, tires are usually only used for one race, or even just for part of one race, and will wear out very quickly as a result of the extreme pressures they are put under during these high-speed contests. F1 tires are designed to last for a maximum of 75 miles, and drivers can end up changing their tires two or even three times during a two-hour race.
17 The Exhaust On An F1 Car Gets Hot Enough To Melt Aluminum
F1 cars don’t just ask a lot of their tires; the rest of the car also has to undergo a great deal during the course of a Grand Prix race. The engines of F1 cars produce a huge amount of power – up to 1000hp – and these vehicles can reach top speeds of over 230mph. This powerful engine, in turn, creates vast amounts of exhaust gases, which raise the temperature of the exhaust unit to an astonishing 1500°F, causing them to glow orange during the race. This is also hot enough to melt a block of aluminum, with a little heat left over!
16 Indy 500 Milk Tradition Dates From 1936
When F1 drivers win a race they get to celebrate with champagne, but for decades now the winner of the iconic Indy 500 race has celebrated with a large bottle of milk – some of which gets drunk, but most of which ends up poured over their heads!
The milky celebration dates from 1936, when winner Louis Meyer requested a bottle of buttermilk after the race, his favorite post-race refreshment.
Photographs of Meyer drinking his buttermilk made the front page of every newspaper, and the Milk Foundation was determined to make sure that this became a traditional celebration for the Indy 500 victor every year.
15 F1 Drivers Lose Around 9lbs Every Race
As with NASCAR racers, whose heart rates match those of an elite marathon runner, F1 drivers also put themselves through the mill when they squeeze into the cockpit of their race car and drive for two hours around a demanding and challenging track.
You only have to look at F1 racers when they finish a race to see how sweaty they are, regardless of the outside temperature.
In fact, drivers have been found to lose up to around 9lbs in weight during each Grand Prix, just through sweat and the physical effort, they have to put in to control their vehicle.
14 NASCAR Teams Cost $400,000 Per Week To Run
The cars which compete in NASCAR races may not be quite as high-tech as the multi-million dollar F1 vehicles, but it is more expensive than you might think to keep a NASCAR team running. In fact, it can cost around $400,000 per week to run a NASCAR team; everything from new parts and repairs for the cars to the wages of the drivers and everyone else in the team. The team also has to pay to transport vehicles from race to race – and given that NASCAR races take place across the whole of the US, this can involve some challenging logistics.
13 Motorsport Drivers Don't Take Bathroom Breaks
Unless drivers are taking part in those 30-second drag races, the fact is that they are going to be stuck in their car for a substantial amount of time. F1 races last around two hours, NASCAR drivers are in their cars for about three hours, and the Indy 500 race can often last for more than three hours – and all without any opportunity for a toilet break unless the driver wants to lose a lot of ground on their competitors. So what happens if a driver does need to spend a penny? The unpleasant truth is that they just have to answer nature’s call and deal with the consequences once the race is over.
12 F1 Cars Are Made Of 80,000 Individual Components
We have already learned that F1 cars are very expensive and that teams spend years and millions of dollars developing new parts and new technologies that can give them the smallest edge over their rival drivers. However, not many fans know just how many components go into making an F1 car. Each vehicle is actually made up of 80,000 parts, of which 16,000 are individual components, and the car must be assembled with 100% accuracy. Just one piece out of place by the tiniest amount could cause the car to under-perform in the race or even to break down completely.
11 Christian Klien Destroyed Diamonds Fitted To His F1 Car In 2004
Monaco is one of the most glamorous places to hold a motor race, and each year F1 cars take over the streets of the principality, passing million-dollar yachts as they drive around the harbor. And so the Monaco Grand Prix of 2004 seemed a logical place for Hollywood to promote one of its most glamorous movies, Ocean’s Twelve, by placing a diamond worth $300,000 in the nose cones of the two Jaguars, one of which was driven by Christian Klien who promptly crashed his car on the first lap. When the car was towed back to the pit lane, it was discovered that the precious gem was missing, and has never been found to this day.
10 There Has Been No Number 13 In F1 Racing Since 1976
F1 racing cars these days are covered in advertisements, but if you look closely, you can see that they also have an identification number. Since 2014, drivers have been able to choose their own numbers. Perhaps they have a lucky number that they feel will give them a little extra push to win races?
Lewis Hamilton, for example, chose 44 as the number for his F1 car, as this was also the number of his very first racing vehicle from his karting days.
One number that fans won’t see on an F1 car, however, is the number 13, as this was ditched in 1976 because of its superstitious reputation.
9 F1 Drivers Used To Be Able To Share Cars
Teams in motorsports spend a lot of money making sure that their cars will at least make it to the end of the race, but no-one can guarantee that nothing is going to go wrong during the course of the race. Cars can be involved in collisions, putting them out of action, or cars can break down; and these days that means the end of the race for F1 drivers. Things were different in the past, however, when drivers from the same team could share cars. So if the team leader’s car broke down, he could jump in his teammate’s vehicle and hopefully get this one over the finish line.
8 NASCAR Drivers Don't Need A Driver's License
NASCAR racing is one of the most difficult driving challengers a motorsport driver can face. Dozens of cars on the same circuit, all driving at speeds of around 200 mph. And yet drivers that want to take part in NASCAR competitions don’t actually need to have a valid driving license, meaning that you could have the ridiculous proposition of someone winning a NASCAR race but not being able to drive themselves to the airport to get to the next race venue! This can be especially useful if a top NASCAR driver loses their license for some infraction on the roads.
7 Monaco Has To Weld Down Manhole Covers Before Grand Prix Race
When the F1 comes to town, Monaco has to make some significant changes to accommodate Grand Prix drivers and their fans.
Aside from closing off most of the roads in the principality for the whole of the weekend, the Monaco authorities also have to weld the manhole covers shut before the race starts.
This is because F1 cars produce so much downforce that manhole covers could easily be pulled right out of the carriageway. In fact, some of those drain covers have managed to come loose over the years, leading to damaged cars and some near misses for drivers behind the wheel.
6 Fans Use Scanners To Tune Into Team Radios
It may seem like motorsports are all about just driving as fast as you can, but there are a lot more tactics involved in winning a NASCAR, F1 or Indycar race. Most fans are not privy to these tactics, as they are discussed by the teams over radio links with their drivers while they are out on the track. If you are ever at the track and sport a fellow spectator listening intently to a set of headphones, however, it could be that they have used a scanner to tune into the team’s frequency, so they can follow the tactics discussion while watching the race.
5 Basic Components Of F1 Cars Cost $10 million
Motorsports are not generally cheap to get into as a youngster. It’s not like playing baseball or basketball where you can just turn up at your local park and have a game. And starting your own motorsport racing team is even more expensive. In Formula 1, for example, teams spend hundreds of millions of dollars on developing new technology to ensure that they remain competitive, but even the most basic components of an F1 car will still set you back around $10 million. The steering wheel alone has a price tag of $50,000 while the engine unit can cost over $7 million.
4 NASCAR Drivers Have The Same Heart Rate As Marathon Runners
Motorsport races may be exciting, but surely it isn’t a physically demanding sport for the drivers? After all, they get to spend a few hours sitting in a car, driving round and round the same lap.
Actually, driving a race car requires a much greater level of fitness than you might expect.
NASCAR drivers, for example, record the same heart rate as elite marathon runners throughout their whole race, which can last for over three hours. Driver Jamie McMurray, who has also run a marathon, revealed that his average heart rate during a NASCAR race was 144 beats-per-minute, while it was 147 bpm at the end of his marathon!
3 Top Fuel Dragsters Have The Same Hp As 22 Corvettes
When most people think of motorsports, they think of long track races like F1, Indycar, and NASCAR, but there are actually many different types of sporting events involving cars and motorbikes, including drag racing. Drag racing involves pitting two very powerful vehicles against each other, going head-to-head over a short distance. Because of the need for an explosive but very short burst of speed, these dragsters, which race in different categories like Pro Stock and Top Fuel, are loaded with power. In fact, the engines of the most powerful Top Fuel dragsters have the same hp as 22 Corvette engines.
2 Only F1 Driver With Has A DNQ, DNF, And DSQ From The Same Race
German racer Hans Heyer is the not-so-proud owner of a unique F1 record, dating from his only F1 race, the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in 1977. Heyer was determined to take his chance in the sport, and despite the fact that he did not qualify for the race, he still lined up on the starting grid and managed to enjoy nine laps of racing before his Penske car broke down. When race officials realized what had happened, Heyer was disqualified, which makes him the only F1 racer to record a DNQ (Did Not Qualify), DNF (Did Not Finish) and DSQ (Disqualified) from the same race.
1 Hair Dryers Are Used To Apply The Decals To Many Race Cars
NASCAR race cars are notorious for their brightly-colored custom paint jobs, which also usually includes the name and number of the driver, as well as images from their team’s sponsors. The cars always look really slick and professional, and yet the decals which decorate NASCAR vehicles are actually applied in a very low-tech way; with a hair-dryer. These decals, which are basically heavy-duty stickers, need heat in order to be applied, and a hair-dryer is simply the easiest and most convenient way to do it. Regardless of how simple the process, NASCAR fans certainly like the way their favorite team’s cars look when they get on the track.
Sources: Tsmplug.com, formula1.com, exhaustvideos.com, nasaspeed.news