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Motorsport or motorsports is a global term used to encompass the group of competitive events which primarily involve the use of motorised vehicles, whether for racing or non-racing competition. The terminology can also be used to describe forms of competition of two-wheeled motorised vehicles under the banner of motorcycle racing, and includes off-road racing such as motocross.

Four- (or more) wheeled motorsport competition is globally governed by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA); and the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) governs two-wheeled competition.


In 1894, a French newspaper organised a race from Paris to Rouen and back, starting city to city racing.[1] In 1900, the Gordon Bennett Cup was established. Closed circuit racing arose as open road racing, on public roads, was banned. Brooklands was the first dedicated motor racing track in the United Kingdom.[2]

Following World War I, European countries organised Grand Prix races over closed courses. In the United States, dirt track racing became popular.[3]

After World War II, the Grand Prix circuit became more formally organised. In the United States, stock car racing and drag racing became firmly established.[4]

Motorsports ultimately became divided by types of motor vehicles into racing events, and their appropriate organisations.

Open-wheel racing[]

File:Nico Rosberg 2015 Malaysia FP1.jpg

The Mercedes F1 W06 Hybrid, the 2015 Formula One World Championship winning car

Main article: Open-wheel car

Open-wheel racing is a set of classes of motor vehicles, with their wheels outside of, and not contained by any bodywork of their vehicle. These have been globally classified as specific 'Formula' series - the most common being Formula One, and many others include the likes of Formula 3, Formula Ford, Formula Renault and Formula Palmer Audi. However, in North America, the IndyCar series is their pinnacle open-wheeled racing series. More recently, new open-wheeled series have been created, originating in Europe, which omit the 'Formula' moniker, such as GP2 and GP3. Former 'Formula' series include Formula 5000 and Formula Two.

Formula One[]

Main article: Formula One

Formula One is a class of single-seat and open-wheel grand prix closed course racing, governed by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), and currently organized by the privately owned company Formula One Group. The formula regulations contain a very strict set of rules which govern vehicle power, weight and size.[5]

IndyCar Series[]

Main article: IndyCar Series

In the United States, Indy Car is a class of single seat paved track racing, organized by INDYCAR. Its premier race is the Indianapolis 500.

Enclosed wheel racing[]

File:Neste Oil Rally 2010 - Jari-Matti Latvala in shakedown.jpg

A Ford Focus WRC rally racing car during 2010 Rally Finland

Enclosed wheel racing is a set of classes of vehicles, where the wheels are primarily enclosed inside the bodywork of the vehicle, similar to a North American 'stock car'.

Sports car racing[]

Main article: Sports car racing

Sports car racing is a set of classes of vehicles, over a closed course track, including sports cars, and specialised racing types. The premiere race is the 24 Hours of Le Mans which takes place annually in France during the month of June. Sports car racing rules and specifications differentiate in North America from established international sanctioning bodies.[6]

Stock car racing[]

Main article: Stock car racing

Stock car racing is a set of vehicles, that race over a speedway track, organised by NASCAR. While once stock cars, the vehicles are now purpose built, but resemble the body design and shape of production cars. NASCAR was organised in 1947, to combine flat track oval racing of production cars.[7] Daytona Beach and Road Course was founded where land speed records were set on the beach, and including part of A1A.

Touring car racing[]

Main article: Touring car racing

Touring car racing is a set of vehicles,[8] modified street cars, that race over closed purpose built race tracks and street courses.

Other racing[]

File:Speedway Extraliiga 22. 5. 2010 - erä 17.jpg

Finnish speedway riders in the Speedway Extraliiga competition

Motor sports which involve competitors racing against each other include:

Non-racing motorsport[]

Forms of motorsport which do not involve racing include drifting, regularity rally, motorcycle trials, gymkhana, Freestyle Motocross and tractor pulling.


Motorsport was a demonstration event at the 1900 Summer Olympics.

See also[]

  • List of motorsport championships
  • International Motorsports Hall of Fame
  • Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame
  • Motorsports Hall of Fame of America


  1. Gifford, p. 7.
  2. Gifford, p. 9.
  3. Gifford, p. 10.
  4. Gifford, p. 11.
  5. Jonathan Noble; Mark Hughes. "Discovering What Makes Formula One, Formula One". Formula One Racing For Dummies.
  6. "Regulations". Federation Internationale de l'Automobile. Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  7. Layford, Bob. Built for Speed. Courage Books. p. 29. ISBN 0762404418.
  8. "Car Facts | Pirelli World Challenge". Retrieved 2015-10-09.


  • Clive Gifford, Racing: The Ultimate Motorsports Encyclopedia Kingfisher, 2006, ISBN 9780753460405

External links[]

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