Innovation and Motorsport

There is a saying that motorsports promote innovation and development of motor vehicles.  Ideas and inventions that work in racing vehicles will eventually filter through to the mass market.  Often these inventions have practical implications for road vehicles; improving safety, reducing fuel consumption and so on. 

Sometimes, racing is more akin to straight advertising.  There is a cliché, “What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday”.  As an example, a few years ago radial mounted disc brake callipers  started appearing on race bikes.  These brakes offered fewer mechanical losses than traditionally mounted brake callipers This was due to the mounting points being at right angle to the braking force applied.  Traditional callipers would flex a small amount due to the fact they were mounted in a manner parallel to the braking force applied.  Soon after, radial mounted callipers appeared on mass-market motorcycles.  At the time of their introduction, a sizeable section of the bike press decided they were along the lines of a “cool toy” but complete overkill for road application.  That did not stop the idea from catching on. 

The Isle of Man is home to one of the toughest motorcycling races still run. The Isle of Man TT is run each year in the last week of May and first week of June on public roads.  The circuit is 37.75 miles (60.7 km) in length, running through villages and open countryside. There is little margin for error in such an unforgiving environment.  Deaths of riders are unfortunately common with over 200 deaths in its hundred-year history. Any event that runs for that length of time is going to attract a degree of prestige and these days, even competing there is a notable feat.

Next year another event will also be staged on the Isle of Man’s Snaefell Mountain Course.  The promoters are billing their event as “The world’s first clean emission and carbon free Grand Prix”.  It will feature electric powered and non-fossil fuel powered motorcycles, running in a one timed lap format.  Now that will be motorsport promoting innovation and development!