Despite some commonly held misconceptions among the general public, motor sport is not the irresponsible hooligan that it is sometimes made out to be. In fact, the sport in many ways is a beacon for technological development and has a significant and positive role to play in society through road safety, education, risk management and other skills.
Motor sport is all about having fun behind the wheel, but it is essential to recognise that there is a place for competitive driving… and it’s not on the public road. Motor sport events are well organised, regulated and fully insured and most importantly there are no other road users or vehicles coming the other way.
Even the very best racing drivers know that the normal road is not the place to demonstrate their supreme driving skills and this is a message that the sport is keen to take out to the public. Through exciting motor sport events and current drivers acting as road safety ambassadors, the sport can connect with the difficult-to-reach group of people whose actions on the roads are a significant risk to themselves and others.
For those who choose to get involved, motor sport can develop their driving skills, improve their attitude and importantly offer the chance to get the adrenalin out of the system in a safe and controlled environment. What’s more, you can start driving in many disciplines from 14 years of age (and younger in some categories)… so what are you waiting for?
The Motor Sports Association has developed a range of curriculum materials that are available free of charge to schools to assist teachers with the subject of Risk Management. It is a subject that is at the forefront of everyone involved in motor sport every day, but it is such second nature that we often take it for granted. The MSA’s materials help young people to identify risk in their everyday lives, understand the likelihood of the risk happening and the potential impact of it – then by using the principles developed in motor sport, they are encouraged to reduce the risk (ie manage it).
Participation in motor sport can have a fundamental impact on the personal development of individuals. Far from being an elitist, individual sport, motor sport develops the important aspects of team work and respect for other competitors.
Motor sport has always been regarded as an effective test-bed for the automotive industry. The speed of development at the highest level of competitive motor sport has to be much faster than in the normal world of industry. Innovative solutions are tried and tested in the heat of competition in a bid to extract value tenths of a second from the performance of a car or team.
The nature of motor sport has led to the development of thousands of high-performance engineering and technology companies within the UK motor sport industry, and many of these companies are now utilising the expertise gained in the sport to service the needs of other sectors, such as the Defence and Aerospace industries.
Motor sport is one area in which Britain really does lead the world. As well as star drivers like Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, Britain is renowned for its cutting-edge hi-tech engineering talent.
An interest in motor sport really does open up a wide array of career opportunities in subjects as diverse as engineering, marketing, coaching, administration, nutrition, PR and sports science. There are many technical apprenticeships available in motor sport engineering and the MSA runs an Advanced Apprenticeship in motor sport driving in association with the Sector Skills Council for Sport – Skills Active.