They don’t have this problem in athletics, golf or tennis. Those are sports where the best competitor on the day will win, period. Running shoes, clubs and racquets simply don’t matter as much as the human being attached to them.
Motor sport is different. With its wide range of different cars, Formula 1 alone throws up enough arguments about who’s ‘the best’ to keep the world’s bars buzzing into the early hours. Throw the World Rally Championship, Le Mans and IndyCar into the mix and all hell breaks loose. The title of ‘World’s Greatest Driver’ suddenly has as many candidates as there are world heavyweight boxing champions.
That’s where the Race Of Champions comes in, solving the debates once and for all. This annual event brings together the world’s finest drivers from all the disciplines of competition – on four wheels and two – and sets them free to battle, head-to-head, on the very same track in the very same car.
Better still, unlike all other types of motor sport, the unique stadium setting means the crowd gets much closer to the action. There’s no waiting around to see just one quick glimpse of the cars and stars – the whole course is permanently in view. The fans see every corner, every slide, every move, every spin.
For the racers, then, there’s no place to hide. It’s a knockout tournament so mistakes prove terminal – and the drivers have to prove themselves in a variety of vehicles. But there’s no blaming the machinery because everyone gets the same kit. Put simply, the best driver will win.
That’s why the greats of motor sport come back year on year. They crave the chance to let their hair down, free from commitments to sponsors, and push to the limit in everything from tin-tops to buggies. Better still, they love to hear the screams of thousands of fans over the roar of the engines.
But behind the smiles the inner steel hasn’t changed. As soon as they’re on the line watching the lights, engine revving, foot twitching, the winning mentality that earned them their glory returns. Add the spice of a flag attached to their cockpit – particularly during the ROC Nations Cup where they race for their home country – and they need no further motivation.