18 Sept 2013

Why Motorsport Fans are the Best Fans - part 2

Back in April I posted an article about football fans rioting and how motorsport fans never riot, with some homespun theories as to why this might be.

Then I was listening to the radio this lunchtime where a debate was raging about racist football chants.  A Jewish comedian was shouting at a non-Jewish football fan because he and his ilk (fans of the same team) called themselves 'Yids' in defiance of other teams calling his team 'Yids'.  The conversation also covered general racist abuse, the "N" word and all sorts of associated nastiness.

My God, I thought, I'm glad none of that bullshit goes on in motorsport.  Aside from the incidents in Spain relating to Lewis Hamilton I've never encountered racism in motorsport.  Nor name calling.

Aside from the drivers themselves (in the heat of the moment and full of testosterone) I've never seen any violence, or even threat of violence at a motorsport event.  Any fan of any team or driver can go any spectator area at a race track and not feel like he or she shouldn't be there.  Children are safe to go anywhere with their parents at race tracks and motorsport events.

Sure, Sebastian Vettel gets booed on the podium sometimes, but that's only because the fans wanted to see a less predictable race.  Any one of those fans would shake his hand and chat with him, given the opportunity.

The difference between the two sports, as I see it, is that motorsports fans love the sport in general whereas football fans follow a team, with all the neanderthal tribalism that entails.

I was at Silverstone in 1999 when Michael Schumacher crashed and broke his leg.  Amongst my small group of friends were a Ferrari fan, McLaren fans, Williams fans and just those who liked F1.  As Schumacher's car was towed past us on a flat-bed truck none of us (the wider fans at Abbey and my friends) shouted insults, punched each other, screamed abuse, rioted, told a marshal he was shit or threw a firework at a police horse.  Yet these are quite the things you would see in a similar incident at a football match.

I used to believe motorsport fans were the best fans.  Now I know it.
Motorsport fans enjoying some track action, without spitting at anyone or calling a marshal "shit"

Article by Matt Hubbard