Racing has taken a number of different forms, including foot, dog, horse, airplane, boat, car, motorcycle and bicycle. The object in any form of racing is to win. Being the fastest is what makes a champion. Coming in second rarely counts.
We know from painted pottery that the foot race was a popular event with the ancient Greeks. Today there are both indoor and outdoor forms of foot racing. The most common forms of racing are sprints, hurdles and relays. Distances of the races vary. The first marathon race in modern times was organized in 1896. It was approximately 22 miles in distance. Today, the marathon is around 24 miles. The first Olympic marathon for women was held in 1928. Today, there are many different marathons, usually organized by a specific charity, such as breast cancer, within a city.
Horse racing has also been around for centuries. The ancient Romans and Egyptians had a fascination for chariot racing. It continues to this day, although it is referred to as horse and buggy racing. There is also thoroughbred racing, with a trained rider (jockey) on a saddle on the horse’s back. One of the most popular forms of horse racing in the United States is the Triple Crown, made up of three separate races in different locations: The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. There are also races in which the horse must jump over obstacles set up on a measured track.
Bicycle racing is an Olympic sport today. The first known race was held in Paris in 1865. There are many forms of bicycle racing today, including on and off road, mountain bike, track, BMX and cycle speedway. One of the best known races is the Tour de France. American cyclist Lance Armstrong has won this event seven times.
Automobile racing began in 1894 and has continued in various forms until the present. The races usually depend on the distance travelled in particular types of cars. There is stock car, drag, rally, off road, sports car racing, Formula One (NASCAR) and other forms of racing. While distance is a factor in racing, speed is usually still the most important factor. The fastest speed recorded at the Indianapolis 500 was achieved by Eddie Cheever in 1996 when his race car reached 236.103 miles per hour.
Motorcycle racing is an enormously popular sport, and, like automobile racing, it comes in a variety of forms, including drag, sidecar, and supercross. There is also motocross racing, an amateur level sport. WERA is the national organization for the advancement, operation and sanctioning of motorcycle road racing. WERA sponsors sprint and distance races.
The first aircraft race was held in 1909, six years after the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane. It was held in Reims, France, and covered the distance from France to England. A race from England to Australia was instituted later, with most of the entrants being commercial airliners. It was discontinued after the outbreak of World War Two. In the United States, the National and Cleveland Air Races were initiated in the 1920s. In 1929, the Women’s Air Derby was created as part of the National Air Races. Today the Red Bull Air Race World Series is held annually. It features 11 pilots who compete against time on two passes over the designated course.
Ships and boats have long been used as racing vehicles. There have been some unusual races as well. Even bathtubs have been used in racing events. Depending on the type of propulsion used, aquatic races vary in time and speed.