As large automotive companies and smaller automotive start-ups are moving towards electrification and autonomous controls, many driving enthusiasts beg the question, “what will happen to motorsports?” This is an interesting time for the future of racing, whether it is on the large scale platforms of Formula 1, NASCAR, INDY, and the Le Mans Series, the club level of SCCA and NASA, or just the weekend autocross driver. This future does not have to lead to the end of motorsports, but it may mean a change from “tradition", seeing even more modern technology integrated into the casual driving experience.
While I don’t think we are going to get back to the old adage of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday”, we may be seeing a more significant shift back to racing and professional motorsports having a direct impact on the consumer transportation market. The electric drive and battery technology that you are seeing with the KERS in Formula 1 or LMP cars and the entire powertrain in Formula E, will find its way into street driven cars. Nothing teaches engineers about durability, longevity, and performance like designing a powertrain for a race where the car is pushed to its limits for hours on end. Range anxiety can’t exist when you ask a driver to push for a win. Racing engineers look for new processes, materials, or systems that add efficiency and reliability to their race car. Motivo has a team of engineers who are looking into these advancements in racing and finding new and creative ways to bring them to the consumer market, as quickly as possible. By working with some of the top teams in the world, Motivo can help OEM and startup transportation companies use these techniques in their own builds for today and into the future.
Many felt that the introduction of the mass-produced car in the 1920’s would mean the end of horse ownership. Instead, horse riding became recreational. The primary focus of horse breeding became one of racing and showing, a change of focus that could only happen if you didn’t have to raise a horse for work. This is the direction I see happening to driving in the future. We are quickly moving away from day to day driving for transportation, if the push towards driving aids and autonomous modes in modern cars is any indication. What this allows is for the idea of car ownership to become strictly recreational. With this change, we will see new companies wanting to experiment with advanced technologies to make the driving experience more enjoyable and engaging. As we have assisted many start-ups get into new industries, Motivo has the engineers that can help young recreational driving companies explore this quickly developing market. Many of our team members have a background in racing and want to see this industry flourish. The challenge intrigues us and we are ready to take it on.
So, to address the question of “who killed the driving enthusiast?” The answer is no one. We (the drivers and engineers) won’t let it happen. We may have to adapt, roll with the changes, and incorporate modern technology, but our passion for driving and racing is here to stay. A shift in the transportation industry does not mean the end of motorsports. It may actually add to the mystique of being a race car driver, and become more accessible to the average enthusiast as new and old automotive manufacturers begin to embrace driving as a recreational event, that should be enjoyed by the masses. Having a company such as Motivo involved in that shift allows engineers to make sure this passion is represented. Motivo’s mission statement is to “accelerate product development for audacious visionaries”. There aren’t many things more audacious than a talented driver dancing a vehicle around a track at its limit.
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Michael Konig is a Project Manager at Motivo. He recently graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Industrial Technology – Vehicle Design and was the Team Captain of WWU Racing, the school’s FSAE team. He is a former racing/HPDE instructor, where he spent time teaching passionate driving enthusiasts to better their skills behind the wheel.