I went to the American LeMans Series Race at Road America ( http://www.roadamerica.com/ ) in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this past weekend.  A great event if you are a car racing fan.  It’s a gearhead’s delight at a wonderful outdoor setting.  Lots of cool cars, friendly people and good food.  Great event for the whole family.

Something occurred to me while watching the various races that took place that day:  there are different classes of cars, all with strict regulations on things like engine displacement, weight, size, etc.  It’s very tightly defined what you can and cannot do to your car in the category you are racing in.  This is fine on one hand since it puts emphasis on the ability and skills of the driver.  What’s interesting is that when I talk to team crew members and read about how racing teams are allowed to tweak their cars, from a car set up standpoint, teams are always looking for loopholes in the car set up rules that they can exploit.  It’s like looking for income tax loopholes.  When someone does find a loophole to “legally” exploit and does exploit it and win, one of two things occurs: (1) the governing body of the race series closes the loophole when they find about it with more rules, or (2) other teams find out about the exploit and copy it  (so any advantage is lost).

Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were auto races where there were fewer limitations?  For example, you could have an unlimited category in Le Mans style racing where other than an overall maximum footprint on the physical size of the car and safety requirements, anything goes.  If you can cram two V-12 engines into the body of GT class car, give it all-wheel-drive and have the body articulated so it leans when it turns, rock and roll.  Do something like this and it would likely compel auto companies to really stretch their design and engineering teams.  Besides the auto manufacturers, we would likely see all kinds of cool auto performance technology come out of the woodwork from aftermarket manufacturers and independent racing teams.

From a commercial standpoint, I would tend to believe races featuring these unlimited class cars would bring fans through the gates and get high broadcast ratings.

Switching gears (no pun intended), think about the open class concept when it comes to other sports.

(Warning:  this is some way-out-of-the-box thinking so if you have a conservative bent, please stop reading at this point).

Take the Tour de France.  It’s one of the greatest and most watched sporting events in the World.  Everytime they run the Tour de France, you hear constant stories and speculation about doping….the use of performance enhancing drugs.  The topic gets tremendous attention and there is lots of interest in the topic.  The Tour de France has strict rules about performance enhancing drugs and they try hard to enforce those rules.    And that’s cool….for the Tour de France.

So just as I proposed removing some of the restrictions posed by sanctioning bodies on auto racing, what if there was a bicycle race where performance-enhancing drugs were allowed. No restrictions.  I see two things happening,  first it might take some of the intensity for the topic off the Tour de France and second, it might just lead to some new useful developments in human performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals.  The sanctioning body could make the race really interesting interesting and challenging.  It would have huge, global commercial appeal and probably be one of the most globally watched sporting events in history.

For instance, how about the Tour de Russia?  From Omsk to Moscow.  About 1700 Miles.  Do it in five legs over five days.  Let the pharaceutical researchers and companies strut their stuff.

You may ask:  Wouldn’t this be dangerous for the riders?  Absolutely.  Hey….They don’t have to participate.  There would have to be all kinds of disclosures, waivers of liability, and lawyers involved.  The disclosure concept is already in place: think about all the required FDA disclosures for arthritis and ED drugs you see on TV everyday.

And to make it even more interesting, remove restrictions on the bicycles themselves.  Some restrictions have to stay, of course:  it must be completely human powered.  Let the bicycle designers, engineers and builders go for it.

Talk about a competitive event:   Super high tech bicycles being ridden by supercharged riders on a five day sprint averaging 340 miles/day.

And….you could take the open class concept to many different sports.   Yes there will lots of reasons put forth not to do this kind of thing.  Many of those reasons will be about safety concerns for the participants and spectators.  But if the participants are made aware of the dangers,  are willing to sign limitation of liability waivers and safety precautions are taken to protect spectators, why not allow the sport?

Admitted, allowing the use of human performance enhancing drugs is a bit far-fetched.  Performance enhancing drugs are going to be developed anyway and there will continue to be a cat-and-mouse game played between game officials and participants over their use.   So making these types of drugs legal for use in certain sports isn’t going to stimulate serious development of new pharamaceuticals for general consumption.  But you have to admit, it would be interesting to watch sporting events where performance-enhancing drugs were allowed.

Creating open class events for sporting equipment is another matter.  This is more feasible and likely to be viewed as more acceptable.  Taking away restrictions on stuff like engine displacement, exhaust systems,  vehicle weight, club weight,  etc. and creating open class, in terms of equipment, versions of sports would likely spur the development of new technologies, products and processes that could be adapted to new consumer products.

I think it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing these types of events.

Take Care and Hey…………………………………………………Have a Great Day !!!!!!!

Earl