Land Speed Record: Is it motorsport?

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    The thought occurred to my while watching a documentary on the early competition of LSR.

    It is all about competitive engineering, faster cars will set a faster speed, but the driver still has alot to worry about. The LSR is normally on fairly uneven ground (like salt flats or beaches), the tyres being made for speed will not be that grippy, and the cars can be very heavy (1000s of kg). No down force, sometimes even lift, is generated to make the car more stable. Those drivers need to be very skilled, and several have lost their lives over it.

    However they never actually race anyone and there’s only an attempt every now and then, and there are so many different categories its quite difficult to keep track of it all.

    What does everyone here think? Is it a motorsport?

    Here are some nice pictures of insanely fast cars for you to look at×960.jpg



    It’s a very nice thought and I am keeping a close eye on the Bloodhound project. I’ve never really considered the notion of it being motorsport. To add further credence to the idea, it is overseen by the FIA. However, I don’t think it is. I’d say it is more akin to an expedition than to a sport. The competitors do not really compete with each other, only with an existing record- with a figure not a team or person. Sure they want to take the record from the other, but they can’t win as such, as they are not defeating the others. Perhaps it could have been a sport in the 60’s when (I believe) 2 men tussled over the record, and the beginning of the century before that. But it still hazy. The big factor for me is that the competitors do not face each other directly and do not compete for the record at the same time- there is none of the ‘direct’ competition that sport is based on. And if you miss a record by 1 mph, you don’t place second- there are only ex-record holders, 1 record holder and anybody else who attempts is nothing.

    No doubt somebody else can better clarify my ramblings and do so more succinctly. If you can say as such that someone attempting a record faces a ‘competitor’ (the previous record holder), which must be done in a sport, then Andy Green faces himself- and that just doesn’t make sense. He is racing a record book, not another person.



    I do consider it to be a sport and as it includes the use of motorised vehicles then, for me at least, the Land Speed Record is a motorsport.

    The point of motorsport isn’t always to beat the guys you’re racing against; for many people it is the challange of racing the track, acheiving a certain lap time or top speed or even just getting to the end and I don’t believe that you must be directly competing against somebody else in order to make what you’re doing a sport.



    But saying it’s motorsport just because it involves motorised vehicles is like saying overtaking somebody on the motorway is a motorsport. I take motorsport to mean sport using a motorised vehicle, and sport to be a direct or fairly direct competition with another person. And the LSR doesn’t comply with my definition of sport.



    One of the definitions of sport is:

    An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.

    The LSR involves physical exertion (or at least as much as any other form of motorsport) and skill and is governed by a set of rules and is undertaken competitively – ergo it’s a sport and as it involves motor vehicles this would make it a motorsport.

    The LSR also involves direct competition as you’re trying to beat the record that’s been set by your competitors; the fact that you’re not competing on the same day (in most cases) is irrelevant.



    It’s not sport.

    “The LSR also involves direct competition as you’re trying to beat the record that’s been set by your competitors”

    No. This is not ‘direct competition’.

    You could name anything in the world as sport if you wanted to.

    Take a beer drinking contest at a party – fulfils all of your cryteria, and is not a sport by any means.

    Matt90 brought a key point – How can it be a competition if there’s no winner nor loser?

    And the records set are not even attributed to the one that drives the car, but to the car itself.



    I don’t call that direct competition as I’ve said before. That it is a finite speed you need means that you either becoming the holder or don’t, with no other placings. I get that there are sporting elements, but if you look at a wider description of sport (a dictionary can’t define it perfectly) you really need to come out with a clear winner or loser, which LSR doesn’t.

    From wiki: ‘A sport is an organized, competitive, entertaining, and skillful activity requiring commitment, strategy, and fair play, in which a winner and loser can be defined by objective means.’

    If someone succeeds a record attempt they are not a ‘winner,’ simply the new record-holder. If their attempt fails that does not mean they have lost, as they were never directly engaged in competition with the record-holder. And if the DO succeed, the old record holder does not become one of thousands of ‘losers,’ he simply becomes an ex-record holder/holder of a previous record. As no win or lose or even draw can be defined, it isn’t sport.

    And I don’t say all of this against LSR- I am in awe of it. I simply don’t think you can call it a sport just as you can’t call setting a road car lap record around the Nurburgring a sport. An achievement. An endeavour. Even an expedition of sorts. A RECORD. But not a sport.

    Edit: Just saw Damon’s post, and I agree entirely.



    Here’s something interesting:

    The World of speed event at the Bonneville salt flats is an annual event where private teams compete under LSR regulations to go the fastest.

    The format is definatly competition, and indeed motorsport. But I see what you’re saying that the all time LSR is not direct competition and there are no winners and loosers.

    Here is the website for the salt flats:

    Edit: just looking at some of the pictures on the site, some amazing looking machines.



    Its probably so far away from what we’d all consider a sport…. yet it is (of sorts)

    A team of people, competing to win a prize, there may or may not be competition with you on the day, but ultimately each are trying to beat each other [in speed]

    I love land speed record cars, be it Jet powered or engines. I think that they rank as the bravest of all brave drivers, those ‘cars’ are just crazy. I was lucky to meet Richard Noble at last years Goodwood FOS and enjoyed listening to him talk about his latest car (and i hope he achieves what he wants), bloody nice bloke too.



    The salt flat competitions are certainly sport. But outright speed records are not, just as being the person who pogos up the most stairs does not make you a sportsmen (obscure Guiness wolrd record).



    I’d say it was definately ‘motor’, but probably not ‘sport’.



    it is definitely a sport, just not one really worth spectating. also, at the top end it’s the only form of motorsport i know of that is truly “unlimited”.



    It is not a sport. Sport involves competition. I don’t think getting the man on the moon can be regarded as a sport, and it was the same business.

    It is just trying to push the limits of humanity even further.



    Certainly, Cristian. Yes it spectacular. Yes it is worthwhile as an amazing endeavour and showcase of human achievement. But it is, once again, not a sport. I go out jogging occasionally. I try and beat my own times. That is not a sport as I do not compete, regardless of whether I’m setting some sort of ‘record’ in the process. If I ran with someone with the intention of beating them it would be sport. If we took it in turns and I tried to be fastest it would be sport. But if I go for a run and set a time, and just happen to find on the internet that others have run the same route and compare the time, that is not sport.



    The land speed record is something I am really interested in, as Andy Green actually went to my secondary school and came back a few years ago to give a presentation on his successful land speed record attempt, which I found really fascinating.

    That said, it is not sport.

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