Sports car racing
Sports car racing is a form of motorsport road racing which utilises sports cars that have two seats and enclosed wheels. They may be purpose-built prototypes or grand tourers based on road-going models. Broadly speaking, sports car racing is one of the main types of circuit auto racing, alongside open-wheel single-seater racing (such as Formula One), touring car racing (such as the British Touring Car Championship, which is based on 'saloon cars' as opposed to the 'exotics' seen in sports cars) and stock car racing (such as NASCAR). Sports car races are often, though not always, endurance races that are run over relatively large distances, and there is usually a larger emphasis placed on the reliability and efficiency of the car as opposed to outright speed of the driver. The FIA World Endurance Championship is an example of a sports car racing series.
|Highest governing body||ACO (1923–present)|
|Venue||Road and street courses (Oval minority)|
A type of hybrid between the purism of open-wheelers and the familiarity of touring car racing, this style is often associated with the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. First run in 1923, Le Mans is one of the oldest motor races still in existence. Other classic but now defunct sports car races include the Italian classics, the Targa Florio (1906–1977) and Mille Miglia (1927–1957), and the Mexican Carrera Panamericana (1950–1954). Most top class sports car races emphasise endurance (typically between 3 and 24 hours), reliability, and strategy, over pure speed. Longer races usually involve complex pit strategy and regular driver changes. As a result, sports car racing is seen more as a team endeavour than an individual sport, with team managers such as John Wyer, Tom Walkinshaw, driver-turned-constructor Henri Pescarolo, Peter Sauber and Reinhold Joest becoming almost as famous as some of their drivers.
The prestige of storied marques such as Porsche, Audi, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Jaguar, Bentley, Aston Martin, Lotus, Maserati, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW is built in part upon success in sports car racing and the World Sportscar Championship. These makers' top road cars have often been very similar both in engineering and styling to those raced. This close association with the 'exotic' nature of the cars serves as a useful distinction between sports car racing and touring cars.
The 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona, and 24 Hours of Le Mans were once widely considered the trifecta of sports car racing. Ken Miles would have been the only driver to ever win all three in the same year, but an error in Ford's team orders at 1966 Le Mans cost him the win.