Six alternative motorsports

Lawmnmower racing
The lawnmower grand prix: taking grass-roots racing to its logical conclusion
"you’ll never hear a more hearty cheer than the one brought about by a caravan exploding through impact"
  • | by Chris Pollitt

We’re all familiar with the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula 1. And yes, we all know about the World Rally Championship and the BTCC and so on, but what about everything else? Surely there has to be a form of motorsport out there that’s a bit more rough, ready and deserving of your time?

Well, actually, there are loads. With that in mind, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to look beyond DRS, aerodynamics and (in some cases) a decent race track to bring you six of the weirdest and wonderful forms of motor racing we could find…

1) Truck Racing

Truck racing

No cones set up around an old runway, no knackered old ex-Tesco Scanias and basically, no messing about. Truck racing gets all the perks of top end motorsport including the grid girls, the sponsors and most importantly of all, the tracks.

Yes, it’s huge fun to watch the BTCC cars fly around Brands Hatch, but listening to the low howl of a five-ton truck breaking traction as it kicks out plumes of diesel smoke while trying to negotiate Paddock is quite the spectacle.

Oh, and then there’s the crashes. When these behemoths get it wrong – and they frequently do – the results makes an F1 prang look like a car park bumper scratch. Huge fun, huge budgets and hugely entertaining to watch, truck racing is the greatest motorsport you never heard of.

2) Caravan Banger Racing

Caravan banger racing

You’re bound to be familiar with banger racing and its heady thrills. The idea is simple, just go out, smash into the other cars and try and survive the race. Its brilliant fun, and you’d think it couldn’t get better...but it can.

Take one stripped out car, painted in true banger fashion and then - just for a giggle - fix a caravan to the back of it. Needless to say, the resulting carnage produced by Mondeos and Granadas literally driving through caravans is pretty spectacular. Plus, it’s beautifully cathartic for those of us who have been stuck in a jam behind a mobile box with a bed.

We promise you’ll never hear a more hearty cheer than the one brought about by a caravan exploding through impact. It’s wonderful stuff.

3) Lawnmower Racing

Lawnmower racing

No, really, this is a thing.

Thankfully, it’s not a game to see how straight and how perfect a lawn can be trimmed. This most exciting and 'grass-roots' form of motorsport is all about making the most of your tuned ride-on mower and winning the race. It’s a perilous sport too - because of the rough terrain and the mower's high centre of gravity there are thrills and spills aplenty.

Plus, it’s really chuffin’ fast - we’re not sure what is done to the mowers, but they go a lot quicker than the green one Mr Jacobs at number 23 uses on a sunny Sunday. We’d love to shake the hand of whoever thought this up, because it looks to be a lot more fun than the mowing we have to do for our pocket money.

4) Drifting

Drift racing

Okay, so in the grand scheme of things it might not seem that unusual. After all, we’re talking big sponsors, famous circuits, considerable budgets and big crowds. That said, you wouldn’t exactly call the art of pulling the handbrake at upwards of 100mph in a bid to deliberately put the car into a huge skid ‘normal’, would you?

It came from Japan, where it was synonymous with high-powered Skylines and Toyotas. While it’s becomes more popular over recent years, it’s still relatively low profile compared to other forms of motorsport. That’s set to change though, as the sport just keeps getting bigger thanks to the sheer spectacle of high-speed action it offers.

5) Monster Jam

Monster truck flying through air

Well, we say  Monster Jam because that’s what it’s evolved into. It started out in the late 70s when a bloke called Bob Chandler drove a jacked up Ford F Series pick-up over some scrap cars. Since then it’s evolved into high flying, 2000hp, back-flipping, wheel-standing, engine revving action.

Who in their right mind would try and do a backflip in a truck that’s bigger than some bungalows? These guys, that’s who. They race, too. Dragging it out in arenas holding tens of thousands of people all whoopin’ and hollerin’ for more carnage.

It’s the freestyle events which really get the fans going, with bonus points for air time, destruction and ingenuity. And weirdly, while there are no points offered, the destruction of these $250,000 seems to be an unwritten prerequisite, too. It’s madness…but it’s captivating, gravity defying madness.

6) Icelandic Formula Offroad

Icelandic racing

Take something that used to look like a Jeep, add some very forgiving suspension, a roll-cage, a bucket seat and…anything else? Oh yeah, an alcohol burning V8 engine with more BHP than an entire Fast and Furious movie.

But then what? Race it round a circuit? Clamber over some rocks? Oh no. The drivers take their pseudo-Jeep and fling it up the sheer face of whatever mountain or hill maybe nearby. Make it to the top and they’re greeted by applause and praise. Fail to reach the crest, only to come crashing down the hill while shedding wheels and body panels aplenty generates pretty much the same outcome.

There is some finesse in as much as a few flags which the drivers have to aim for, but that’s about it…

Needless to say, attempting any of these feats of automotive silliness on your local ring road (or back garden) is not advisable - it'll put you and others at danger, and raise the prospect of having an embarrassing conversation with your car insurance provider if anything goes wrong. So leave it to the pros, alright?