Automotive Sports

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Automotive Sports


any of various kinds of contests involving racing, sports, and stock cars. The first automobile contest was held in France on Nov. 18, 1894, on the route Paris-Rouen-Paris, a distance of 1,200 km. The driving speed was restricted by the rules to 12.5 km/h. In Russia the first automobile races were held on Oct. 11, 1898, between Aleksandrovskaia and Strel’na (near St. Petersburg) over a distance of 41.6 km. The maximum speed recorded in those races was 25.5 km/h. In the USSR the first automotive sport contest took place in 1924 on the Serpukhov highway outside Moscow. Since February 1948 automotive sports events have been held regularly. The following basic types of contests have been adopted: (1) highway circuit races with massed standing starts for sports, racing, and stock cars on a closed, winding route with an improved (smooth and hard) surface; (2) straight-line highway races between two points on motor roads for public use; track races on speedways, race courses, and cycle racing tracks and in stadiums; (3) record-setting races—special contests for attaining the highest possible speed (from a standing and flying start) within fixed distances and in given types of cars; (4) rallies; (5) figure driving—mass speed contests involving stock cars and trucks (consisting, for youngsters, in the least deviation from allotted time) and requiring the faultless execution of a series of special exercises in artificially restricted sections; (6) economy driving—mass contests in which the aim is to consume the least amount of fuel while maintaining or exceeding the prescribed driving speed; (7) hill climbs—mass contests in which the winning places are determined by the driving speed on a sharp rise of a given length with one or several turns of up to a 180° angle; (8) crosscountry contests for stock cars of normal and increased roadability on roadless stretches and on roads that have no artificial surfacing and contain natural obstacles (winning places are determined by the speed with which the distance is covered and also by the intactness of the automobile and its load); (9) carting and multiple event contests, which usually consist of figure and economy driving, two traditional events that are the most popular. Multiple events may include any other types of contests as well. Gaining popularity are multiple events that comprise elements of military application, such as shooting and target grenade throwing.

The technical specifications and international qualification of automobiles for automotive sports change periodically. The main criteria are the type of automobile and the engine displacement.

The most important contests abroad are the world championship of closed circuit races for racing cars (engine piston displacement up to 3 liters, weight not less than 500 kg) and the European rally championship.

A speed record of 966.554 km/h was established in November 1965 by an American racer, Craig Breedlove, in a jet-thrust vehicle.

In the USSR the development of automotive sports is governed by the Federation of Automotive Sports (FAS), which is a member of the International Automobile Federation (Fédération Internationale de l’ Automobile, or FIA). The organizational functions are carried out by the Central Automobile Club.


Avtomobil’nyi sport; Pravila sorevnovanii. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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