Olympic Car Racing: Is It Coming Back?

Lisa Steuer McArdle
· 4 min read
Auto racing
is one of the most-viewed sports in the world. Formula 1 races attract millions of viewers globally, and
is a cultural staple in the United States. Despite the popularity, car racing is not part of the Olympics, and it doesn't seem like that will change any time soon.
However, there was a time when medals were awarded for racing at the Olympics. According to
, auto racing was part of the 1900 Olympic Games. Despite this, no other Olympics have featured the event.
Despite its popularity, car racing is not currently part of the Olympics. | Twenty20

Olympic car racing in 1900

The 1900 Paris Olympic Games were held alongside the 1900 World's Fair. Seeing as the fair was a celebration of technological innovations, the inclusion of car racing was only logical. The races at the Olympics were a showcase of
classic cars
, including vehicles by Delahaye and Renault.
There was an interesting difference between the Olympic auto racing and modern racing and Olympic events. While manufacturers are important to modern racing, the drivers are just as critical, if not more. During the 1900 Olympic car races, though, the cars were in the spotlight instead of the drivers.
Medals were awarded based on the class of vehicle. Some classes were based on factors like the number of doors in a car or car weight. Humorously, there were also races held for fire trucks and taxis.
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Why is auto racing not in the Olympics now?

Despite the inclusion of auto racing in 1900, it has not been part of the Olympics since. One reason is that races are measures of the cars themselves, rather than athletes. That logic is a bit strange, though, considering that strong equipment is central to other events that are part of the Olympics.
The debate of whether racing should be featured in the Olympics is part of a larger debate of whether or not drivers are athletes. Those who argue that they are not athletes say the cars are powered by engines and that the drivers simply steer them. As for arguments that they are athletes, racing drivers must train physically to prepare themselves for the physical stress of driving at such high speeds.
Auto racing may not be part of the Olympic programming anytime soon. However, there has been a recent development that may somewhat satiate racing fans.

Virtual racing before Tokyo 2020

While real cars will not be racing in Tokyo for the Olympics, virtual racing was featured as part of the first-ever Olympics Virtual Series.
According to
, virtual motor racing was held through a partnership between the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and the International Olympic Committee. The FIA is the world's leading governing body of auto racing, and they sanction virtual races as well. Virtual races were done with Gran Turismo Sport, the premier competitive car racing game.
The Olympics Virtual Series was created in response to the massive popularity of esports. Virtual racers from around the world were represented in the competition. While this does carry the Olympics name, competitors do not receive Olympic medals for winning virtual events.
Auto racing is one of the most popular spectator sports in the world. Despite this, apart from 1900, racing has not been involved in the Olympics. With the recent Olympic Virtual Series, though, perhaps racing may make its way into Games once more.
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