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13 of the craziest motor sports you can find on YouTube

by | May 12, 2022

Ever since motor vehicles were invented, people have been racing them. And, seemingly right after that, people started coming up with creative and crazy ways to race them.

Recently I was hanging out in the Dorman garage and we started talking about (and of course watching) crazy demolition derby videos on YouTube. This got me thinking about all of the other crazy motor sport videos that are on YouTube. As I went deeper down the rabbit hole, I couldn’t believe how many strange vehicles had been created just for the sake of racing them in strange ways. If you appreciate weird machines as much as I do, take a look at this baker’s dozen of the weirdest motor sports in the world.

Ice Racing

The Scandinavian flick, or pendulum turn, is a technique used predominantly in ice racing and rallying. This technique is achieved by approaching along the inside of an upcoming turn, steering sharply towards the outside of the turn, then lifting off the throttle and lightly applying the brakes. This causes weight transfer that rotates the car toward the outside of the turn. Then, steering into the turn and releasing the brake pedal while applying full throttle, the car will rotate into the turn. When properly executed this technique neatly lines the car up for the exit while maintaining momentum. Obviously, this technique takes tremendous timing and control to successfully pull off, and it’s truly impressive to watch. The Andros Trophy (the French national ice racing championship) is possibly the best place to see this done at a high level of execution.

 

Baja 1000 (SCORE Race)

The Baja 1000 is an annual Mexican off-road race that consists of either a point-to-point race from Ensenada to La Paz or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada. It’s been alternately called the biggest desert race of the year, the most dangerous off-road race and the toughest off-road race. The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course with classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs and buggies. As if the landscape doesn’t make this race treacherous enough, the degree of difficulty is increased by the fact that spectators will set up their own hazards on the course by digging holes, blocking rivers or burying obstacles. Although these hazards are usually intended just for the entertainment of the spectators or to create interesting moments to catch on video, they can be hazardous to the contestants, resulting in damage to the vehicle or injuries to competitors or spectators. In fact, awareness of these spectator-created hazards is a key part of the competitor’s race day strategy. They also make for some crazy YouTube videos!

 

The Gambler 500

The Gambler 500 is a mostly off-road rally-style race a.k.a. ”navigational adventure” that has an interesting caveat: drivers are encouraged to spend no more than $500 on their vehicle. Although the limit is not strictly enforced, the spirit of the rule leads to some rather unique builds. In addition to that, drivers must have a GPS on their vehicle to hit daily navigational waypoints and are encouraged to pick up trash and remove abandoned vehicles and boats along the way. The Gambler 500 started in Oregon, but has spread across the United States, Canada and Iceland; the Oregon Gambler 500 is now known as the “OG500.” The following video has the part of the event that is probably of most interest to you loyal readers of Shop Press, showing one team’s build of their vehicle for the 2018 Gambler 500.

 

Dajiban

The word Dajiban (dah-jee-bahn) is a Japanese phonetic mash-up name of “Dodg-e-van,” and a Dajiban race features short wheelbase Ram vans built for racing and drifting. It’s as if someone thought of the vehicle that is least suited to racing and drifting and decided that they would, in fact, race and drift it. These are mostly 318 V-8 Dodge Rams with 160-mph speedometers. Watching them race is like seeing a sports car that has gotten big and fat in old age but can still whip around the track.

 

School Bus Demolition Derby Figure 8

OK, so far we’ve been talking about motor sports that (mostly) require precision control and timing, but now let’s get into some pure destruction. This one is pretty self-explanatory. A bunch of drivers get into school buses and drive on a figure 8 track until the inevitable crashes. The anticipation of watching them just barely miss each other until the crashes start is magnificent. Flipped buses! Engines on fire! This video has it all.

 

Trailer Demolition Derby Figure 8

Again, not a lot of explanation needed here. Drivers get into trucks pulling trailers and drive on a figure 8 track until mayhem ensues. This one doesn’t take a lot to get going, as the crashes start at about the 2:18 mark. Pretty soon the carnage gets into full swing, with debris all over the track. Watching a truck plow through a trailer like the General Lee plowing through a barn is a thing of beauty.

 

Lawn Mower Racing

Lawn mower racing is exactly as it sounds: drivers race modified ride-on or self-propelled lawn mowers. All mowers have their blades removed, but retain specific original components such as their chassis, hood and drive configuration. In fact, although engine regulations vary between clubs, these are mostly standard lawn mower engines with little or no modification or tuning. Premier races include the British Lawn Mower Racing Association’s 12-hour endurance race, which has been held near Wisborough Green, England, since 1978, and the Twelve Mile 500, which is held annually on Independence Day in Twelve Mile, Indiana. The below video is from the Sunshine Coast mower racing club.

 

Barstool Racing

The concept behind this race is pretty simple: hook up a gas engine or electric starter motor to a barstool and race it. The height of the barstool and the small wheelbase makes for a “vehicle” that is rather difficult to steer and keep upright, leading to many wipeouts. So, let’s get right to the good stuff with the following barstool racing crash compilation.

 

Cannonball Rally

The Cannonball Rally, popularized by “The Cannonball Run” movie series, is an unofficial and unsanctioned “race” to set the best cross-country record in the United States, usually accepted to run from New York City’s Red Ball Garage to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach near Los Angeles, covering a distance of about 2,906 miles. Even though it has been criticized for its illegality and danger to other drivers, it still remains a rather popular race to attempt. Unsurprisingly, the record has been broken a few times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to decreased traffic and less law enforcement presence. One such record-breaking run was made in this 2016 Audi S6 disguised to look like a Ford Taurus Police Interceptor.

 

Swamp Buggy Racing

Yep, people race swamp buggies and it started in (you guessed it!) the Florida Everglades. Swamp buggy racing started in Naples, Florida in 1949, when a parade was held and after the parade, drivers went into the mud to test their buggies with the crowd watching. Swamp buggy races are now held annually in Naples.

 

Dirt Drags

Drag racing is great and all, but how about drag racing on dirt? That’s the concept behind dirt drags, which combine the pure speed and acceleration of drag racing coupled with the reduced traction of a dirt track. Racing is mainly done by diesel trucks, although there are also dirt drags for motorcycles, SUVs and side-by-sides. The below video is from Generation Motorsports 2020 and you can see the drivers struggling to keep the trucks straight while attempting to out-race their competitor.

 

Auto Race

Auto Race is a Japanese version of flat track motorcycle racing that’s held on an asphalt course. The hard surface requires riders lean around the corners (as opposed to sliding) kind of like motorcycle road racing. The bikes have no brakes and are designed with the left handlebar higher than the right to help maintain stability while leaning the machine on the banked oval circuit. This leads to some perilous cornering, with the riders either extending their left foot out or leaning so that their knee almost scrapes the pavement. Seriously, how these guys don’t scrape the skin off their knee or the bottom of their foot is beyond me!

Fun fact: gambling is an integral part of Auto Race, which means that prior to race day, riders are required to stay at a dorm and must not contact anyone in the outside world to prevent race fixing. This is partly due to the fact that race fixing was rampant when the Yakuza (the Japanese mafia) ran the sport, until a motorcycle federation took over Auto Race in 1967.

 

Speedway

Speedway is a motorcycle sport involving four and sometimes up to six riders competing over four laps of an oval circuit. The motorcycles use only one gear and have no brakes. Racing takes place on a flat oval track usually consisting of dirt. Riders use this surface to slide their machines sideways, with a method known as broadsiding. Broadsiding is achieved by the rider skidding their rear wheel, spinning it at such a speed that it drifts through the turn. Then they control the slide by throttle control to maintain, increase or decrease the rate of which the rear wheel spins. In this way, the rider can maintain control while still providing the speed to power the bike forward and around the bend. Which is basically just a wordy way of saying, “They’re riding their bikes sideways!” Oh, and also the bikes are running on alcohol.

 

What crazy motor sports videos did I miss? Tell us in the comments!

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