Why Racing?

F2000, Driver Development Track, Ontario, Canada   Foreground: Farook Manzar, Background: myself

Aren't you afraid of dying? Don't you need a lot of money to go racing? Why do you do it?

I get asked these questions a lot from family and friends. And after my last post, I figured it'd be insightful to explain why I've dedicated so much time, money, and energy towards learning how to go fast on four wheels. 

First, the question about injury - Aren't you afraid of getting hurt, dying?

  • Sure, I fear death and getting hurt but never while driving. To be honest, there are far too many other things preoccupying my mind like braking/turn-in points, line, how the car/tires/track is feeling, etc - than thinking about any sort of doom-and-gloom scenario
  • In addition, race cars have gotten considerably safer over the years and if you want to be on the even safer side, you can stick to solely racing sports cars vs open-wheel race cars (w/roof vs no roof; usually slower and less g-forces involved). Though, that's not to say that you still can't have life-threatening injuries from driving a sports car, but generally they are considered safer. That's what the last 5 years have dictated at least..

Fernando Alonso, Australian F1 Grand Prix 2016        photo - motorsport.com

Don't you need a lot of money?

To go and drive a car spiritedly on the track - no, not that much
To go racing - yes. With the cost for new tires, fuel, txp, entry fees, spare parts, mechanics/engineers/coaches, food, etc..it all adds up quite quickly hence the dire need for sponsors as you progress up the ladder

Here are some numbers for Mazda's Road-to-Indy Career Development Ladder system in the USA. Scholarships such as fully-paid rides towards the next series are awarded for championship-winning drivers, but you still have to pay to play:

-USF2000 full season cost                                           = $200,000-275,000
-ProMazda '   '                                                             = $300,000-400,000
-IndyLights '   '                                                            = $1,000,000
-IndyCar, just to field a car at the Indy500, one race    = $1,000,000

This would be a common career path for young teens eager to reach the pinnacle of motorsport, whom (usually his/her parents) have already invested thousands upon thousands rising up the ranks in go-karts


However, that's not to discourage anyone else with a dream to go racing and to make it to the pros. It can and has been done before by those that have been older and just as financially desperate as the rest of us - but it takes an unbelievable amount of commitment, hard work, creativity, luck, and persistence

The son of a bricklayer, a police constable that went racing, and a mechanic that was once living in an Italian refugee camp
Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell, Mario Andretti - all Formula 1 World Champions

As for why I enjoy racing cars, everyone has their own reasons. These are mine:

  • I really enjoy driving fast. So much so that just thinking about cars, racing, and going faster literally keeps me up at night. It's been the cause for my insomnia since I was 10
  • Taking a corner perfectly, from stamping on the brakes to throwing the car in, hitting the apex and balancing the car with the throttle as it drifts perfectly out to the edge of the track, while performing all of these maneuvers on the absolute limit is an indescribable feeling of ecstasy

F1600 Palm Beach Intl. Raceway, Florida

  • Going fast (and surviving) requires a combination of intelligence, physicality, awareness, and in the words of James Hunt, 'big balls'
  • I have a passion for analytics but also a tendency to overthink my decisions. Racing a car at speed doesn't offer me the luxury of time, thus forcing me to make a decision quickly and decisively, and to continuously use what i've learned on the previous lap in order to go faster on the next. Split-second problem-solving, fun
  • Driving a racecar is like being a Power Ranger. You're essentially in control of your own giant robot (racecar), which you then use to battle it out with others in their own individually-tuned machines at extremely high speeds. It's basically like real-life Gundam. That's probably the best way I can think of to describe auto-racing - big battling robots 

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Mobile Suit Gundam

  • Racecars are sexy as hell. How they sound, the smells and vibrations, just their physical presence and the understanding that they were built for only one thing and one thing only - to lap a track as fast as humanly possible given the limitations
  • Passing people is fun
  • And winning is even more fun. Especially to win after working so hard, enduring all of the hardships, and doing what you've loved and dreamed about since childhood

Video: Champions, from Ascari to Alonso

Mika Hakkinen, 1999-2000 F1 World Champion    photo: getty images

Tony Kanaan winning the 97th Indy 500, photo Marshall Pruett

Jenson Button, 2009 F1 World Champion   photo: unknown