The first motors were developed more than 150 years ago. If we include steam-powered engines, then we can go back another hundred years or so. (And more novelty than practicality there were even some primitive machines in ancient times though they have little impact of the habits, economy, and development of the ancient world.) As soon as something new is developed it seems to be human nature to what to prove to be the best at whatever it is. Horse races have been round since the dawn of human kind—or at least since we domesticated horses—and there are programming competitions in the modern world.
It follows then that for as long as we’ve had cars we’ve had motor races. Although there are many races and styles of races that have gone out of fashion or become entirely obsolete, there are still races all over the world in nearly every type of discipline imaginable. Every form of racing tests something different, but in my opinion, these are the ultimate in motor sport:
As the name suggests, this type of race tests the cars and their drivers to the limit. The most famous is probably the Le Mans 24, a race run for about one hundred years in France, relatively near Paris. The goal of this race—in addition to being the fastest, as most races are—is to demonstrate the prowess of a driver and abilities of a car. The race is run for 24 hours straight, and combined with its history this makes it one of the most exciting forms of racing to watch.
I’m a bit of a sucker for any sport that tests endurance and there’s little that does so as much as rally driving. Not only does the sport tax the driver and the car, rallies can take up to weeks like world famous Paris-Dakar Rally which runs through western Africa and western Europe. When it crosses through the Sahara drivers are at risk of sandstorms covering the road, which tests drivers ability to navigate as much as their ability to drive (therefore most of these races have two-person teams). Not exactly a spectator sport, I can’t think of anything more exciting.
Completely the opposite of endurance racing or rally driving, these races are extremely fun to watch. They last only a matter of seconds, but the appeal here is not the endurance but rather the massive speed these cars reach so suddenly and the technology that goes into the cars. By far the easiest on this list to be a spectator at, drag races can be a lovely afternoon trip as long as one doesn’t mind the noise of the engines too much!