London 2012 has been incredible so far: the velodrome has provided entertainment like nobody’s business; there have been emotional scenes of disbelief and pure joy from the likes of Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking in the rowing from Eton Dorney; the nation has been gripped by minority sports like judo and shooting; even Andy Murray looked almost pleased with Olympic gold.
And my personal highlight to date: Mo Farah taking a richly deserved victory in the 10,000m. I’ll be in the Olympic Stadium to see him run in the 5,000m heats, and I can’t wait for that.
Do we want Olympic motorsport?
As a motorsport blog, perhaps this isn’t quite the angle I should be going for. But honestly, with that embarrassment of sporting riches, why would anyone need motorsport in the Olympic Games?
Going by what I’ve seen on Twitter, the lack of motorsport certainly doesn’t mean a lack of enthusiasm for the Olympics, from even the most fervent motorsport fan.
Nevertheless, let’s have a look at whether Olympic motorsport is even possible, and what form it could take.
Could motorsport be in the Olympics?
We’ve already established that there was nearly Olympic motorsport in 1900. So could it come back as a full Olympic sport? Actually, it’s not out of the question.
It’s a common misconception that the Olympic Charter precludes sports which “rely on mechanical propulsion”. There was such a rule – and indeed at least as recently as 2007. But a quick look at the current version of the Olympic Charter, in force from 8th July 2011, reveals that there is no longer any such rule.
So the door’s open, right? Not so much. Environmental impact is a factor in assessing new sports for inclusion in the Olympic Games, which would probably rule out any kind of motorsport.
For more on this, have a search of the illuminating Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement – for the ‘Automobile Racing’ and ‘Motorcycling’ sections specifically.
How could Olympic motorsport work?
Okay, so we don’t really need or want it, but it is possible – albeit unlikely. What form could it take?
Formula 1 is often put forward as an obvious candidate for an Olympic motorsport event. I can’t imagine why though: it’s expensive, exclusive and elitist. Not to mention the practical considerations: it wouldn’t be very fair to have just the world championship drivers in their regular cars; but if it was open to other drivers, which cars would they use? It’s a minefield.
Something like Formula 3 has more potential. It’s at a more accessible level to ensure wider participation, and you could have F1 drivers and the like going back to risk their reputations against young upstarts. There’s a good geographical spread of national championships, and the Macau Grand Prix demonstrates that they can come together and race against each other effectively.
On two wheels, the same goes for Superbikes. The recent Silverstone 200 race, a support event for the MotoGP, successfully brought together competitors from various superbike, supersport and superstock championships. Not to mention the superbike race at Macau.
Those would, however, depend to a greater or lesser extent on the team and machinery. To eliminate those factors, you’d need to go down the route of something like the Race of Champions. That would be brilliant, but not really practical given the time it takes to transform a stadium into a race track.
However: Race of Champions at the Olympic Stadium. Now that sounds like a very fine idea.
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