Motor Racing: The True National Sport?

If you care at all about cars and you happen to be born of these Sceptered Isles, it's a little difficult not to feel a bit smug this week. As a nation of people passionate about their cars and motorsport, we've just achieved our Tenth world champion in Jenson Button, who got their as part of a very English team (OK, so the engine is made by Mercedes, but we won't let that little detail rain on our parade). So, we had Lewis, and now we have Jenson too to carry the flag for our passion.  Our F1 correspondent Tony Dodgins drops the insider knowledge on an incredible Brawn GP season as part of this month's feature thread.

This latest success of course represents UK based, managed, raced and inspired teams standing on the shoulders of motorsport giants. And amongst the heroes that have held our interest over the years, none comes close the gravitas held by Sir Stirling Moss. We had the honour of spending some time with the man this month. He may not have won a world championship, but he certainly has been made of the right stuff, and continues to be an ambassador of the best bits of motorsport.

As well as the mainstream success at the glamorous end of the racing, there are also a legion of passionately dedicated amateurs working around the margins for the love of it. We traveled the nation and met a handful of the people who are keeping the grass roots of motorsport shooting clean and fruitful. We are pleased to present a folio of pictures from Drag Race photographer Dom Romney of what has perceived as the poor relation of the petrol headed sporting creed.

If two wheels is your thing, then of course the Isle of Man TT is the classic of all classic road races. For this month's online edition we gathered together some fine detail on the race that requires its riders simply to 'keep it lit and between the hedges!'

Any regular Influx reader will know that we care a lot about aesthetics in these towers. And, respecting Enzo Ferrari's maxim that the most beautiful car is the one that wins, we thought we'd commission Jane Anderson, one of our favourite illustrators, to evoke in ink some of the most beautiful racers ever to grace a track.

At a moment when the car industry is wracked by an unsustainable past and a very uncertain future, with manufacturer teams like Honda, BMW (and possibly Toyota) pulling out of top level racing, Motorsport's place in the culture is continually called into question. But the benefit to R&D, not only in terms of performance matters, but aerodynamic, design, fuel-efficiency and other net benefit technologies is immesurable to mainstream manufacturers. Or industry insider Ben Oliver spells out how racing has nurtured many an automotive breed and will continue to do so.

  • jambo2

    FYI - even the Merc engine is made in the UK...

  • shifty

    Stone me, we really do rock, do we not? Why on earth do we not have a viable indigenous auto industry?