The cars are on the starting grid, the drivers poised, the crowd expectant. The red lights go out and with a gentle whine and a commendable lack of emissions the race is underway. An extreme scenario maybe, but the impact on motorsport of the wider automotive industry’s focus on environmentally benign technologies is likely to be profound. As this issue’s cover feature explains, a growing body of opinion is convinced that a parallel world of ‘sustainable motorsport’ can emerge to rival the established high-octane order on two and four wheels.
It is likely that the prospect of, for instance, a race series for electric vehicles would be anathema to many confirmed petrolheads — you can already imagine the milk-float racing jibes. Could such a spectacle ever rival the romance and excitement of Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix or the Isle of Man TT? In fact, all of these events are in their various ways seeing the impact of a shift in emphasis towards new technologies and systems led by a motorsport establishment that is well aware of the way the wind is blowing.
The TTxGP alternative motorcycle event was, for example, apparently very well received by bikers on the Isle of Man. Why? Because it had the feel of a proper race, with bikes and riders going head to head at high speeds. For ultimately, speed and the skill of drivers or riders are the essence of motorsport as a spectacle and whatever propulsion technology is used, a race stands or falls on the thrills it provides. For engineers this all raises intriguing possibilities, not least a chance for the wider automotive sector to connect with motorsport in a new manner. In an industry that places so much value on the brand, for example, the prospect of involvement with a nascent eco-racing movement may well seem a highly attractive prospect.
The roar of the internal combustion engine and the smell of fuel will be around for some time to come, but the development of a shadow ‘green racing’ industry can only be a positive development.
Talking of positive developments, we hope you agree that the new look for The Engineer unveiled this issue falls firmly into that category. The journal has enjoyed a variety of incarnations since its launch in 1856 and the latest represents another landmark in that long history.
Over the coming months the changes to your print edition will be matched by a significant upgrade to The Engineer’swebsite, theengineer.co.uk. Together they will offer unique coverage of technology and innovation in action and, crucially, a forum for your views.
Most immediately, we value your feedback on our new look, so if you have any comments please feel free to email me at email@example.com.