Performance racing has long had a global appeal, and today high-profile races are arguably as popular around the world as any other sporting event with the exception of Olympic events and World Cup soccer matches. Having said that, as with any other spectator sport, it needs to adapt and grow to remain relevant, and it appears that it is. Here is a look at some recent trends in performance racing as the sport moves into the future.
Performance racing and social media
As with other sports, the internet in general and social media in particular allows racing fans to get up close and personal with the action. This is good for the sport in that it generates excitement, but it also means that fans know more about the sport, and broadcasters have to give them more in-depth content.
It’s no longer enough for the broadcasters of a race to set up some cameras and film the cars going around the track. These days, fans are demanding technical explanations and behind-the-scenes coverage, and broadcasters are responding.
The trend has led to more exciting and engaging coverage, and this is a good thing because there is more competition from other sporting events for viewers than ever before. Because sports can now be streamed on the Internet, fans are spending more time overall watching them but less time viewing specific types of sports. There’s more to choose from.
At the end of the day, however, the shrinking world where almost anything can be streamed online will likely be good for automotive performance racing. Its appeal of speed and machinery is timeless and universal.
Putting on a show
The trend now for race organizers is to try to present performance racing not just in engineering terms for automobile enthusiasts but also as entertainment for everyone. The owners of Formula One racing understand this as well as anyone. They are reaching out to new fans, and they are also trying to have their sport stay with the times by looking at electrification and fuel consumption.
They are trying to expand the sport into new markets, and they are thinking long-term. Now that the various teams realize this, they are more secure knowing that the owners are doing everything that they can going forward.
Virtual racing and gaming
Another trend in performance racing is giving fans access to sophisticated virtual simulations of performance testing. For the more technically sophisticated, this is great fun. Furthermore, there are more and more games available that offer truly realistic performance-racing experiences, and this will likely drive interest in performance racing as a whole. Engineers can use the data from simulated races to develop better components. Virtual racing exists in parallel to actual racing, and each is good for the other.
Additionally, the virtual environment allows for fans as well as engineers to test out ideas in a safe environment. This is not only leading to better, faster vehicles, but it is expanding the number of people who are able to develop innovations that might realistically one day be used. You no longer have to work as an engineer for an automotive company that makes performance race cars to test out ideas. Essentially, automotive engineering is becoming open source, and that’s almost always good for the entire industry ecosystem.
Another hot topic in the performance racing world is the question of whether there will soon be a market for races between autonomous vehicles. As the auto industry is moving towards autonomous vehicles, interest in these cars will increase, and it’s possible that people will want to see autonomous races.
Such races would likely be mostly about the engineering behind the autonomous vehicles, but for technical purists, that’s just fine. Whether fans will pack stands to watch cars without human drivers is an open question, but there will definitely be some interest.