An Appreciation Letter To Driving
I think it's unbelievable that us, as humans can drive cars. We are able to control one-two tonnes of metal, rubber and plastic at speeds of 100km/hr +, whilst hundreds of other people do the same around us. And most of us, can do it constantly and consistently without any large incident.
Actually, it has become a societal norm that you must be able to control what is a very complicated, ever combusting machine, whilst in tandem with many others doing the same, on segregated pieces of asphalt, often with many other transport systems and traffic rules at play. And if you are unable to do this, making a large mistake or shunt, then you are seen as an 'idiot in a car'.
Of course, the technology in these metal boxes have come a long way. Not only has handling become forever better, but there are now many systems in place to help you drive along. From ABS and traction control that has become hardly noticeable in modern cars, to intricate sensors making sure you don't depart from your lane or run into the car in front of you.
Still, cars aren't quite smart enough to go by themselves among the bustle of traffic, intersections and winding roads. Remove the driver and the car is unable to, well, drive! (Unless you have a Tesla Model X with its quite ingenious, although temperamental summoning capabilities).
So what am I getting at here? Why have I decided yet again to type down some random thoughts and attempt to connect the dots into one, hopefully interesting article? Because I think that the success of being able to pilot more than a tonne of complicated and intricate metal, rubber and electronics, powered by an extremely flammable liquid constantly exploding a thousand times a minute in metal chambers is something that is overlooked.
Not only that, but we as humans have designed and built these complicated and reliable means of transport, by the millions, and a transport system around it. Every year we as a species are making the car safer, faster, more reliable and handle better. Each car is filled with specially designed parts and technology to each aid in driving. From simply things like alternators to very specialised wiring looms and MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensors.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. A torque converter sits in between the engine and automatic transmission. Its casing is connected to the flywheel, spinning at the same rate as the crankshaft. Through two series of opposing blades and a pump that sends fluid onto these blades, the torque converter transmits power from the engines crankshaft, to the transmission.
So smack bang in the middle of power's journey from the crankshaft to the wheels, through many spinning, intricate and specially lubricated metal, is a box with some fans and some liquid, making sure that the engine doesn't stall. How cool and unbelievable is that! And our human race not only designed but created this system and has replicated it millions of times!
The automobile is a wonder of engineering, and a great achievement for humanity. Structures like The Great Wall of China, or the Pyramids of Giza are wonders of our world because they are massive engineering achievements. And so to I think, is the car.
The car is an invention that has become one for the masses. It has become a part of society just as much as a house, and learning to operate this invention has become essential and part of growing up for majority of the world. This is an invention that although is so complex, has been created and built millions of times over.
Whichever way you look at it, we are able to operate and enjoy driving an engineering marvel, and I think we sometimes take that for granted.
But then there is Motorsport, which brings engineering and driving to a completely new level. Cars are designed and pushed to their absolute limits. It is through Motorsport that the automobile's true capabilities are displayed, on purpose built racetracks, off-road, in dirt bowls, on rally stages, temples of speed and more. It is an amazing spectacle.
But what makes Motorsport even more of a presentation of human achievement are the drivers. I mentioned before that I think it is amazing that hundreds of people can operate these intricate vehicles in tandem on the roads together. But on the roads, we aren't (or at least shouldn't be) pushing the limits.
These guys and girls are.
Watching for years, drivers push and control the automobile at the absolute limit, whilst on a track where they are surrounded by others doing the same is exceptionally skillful and absolutely should be celebrated. The car is one of humanity's greatest achievements, and Motorsport, from grassroots to the top tier championships is and will continue to be a demonstration of human brilliance.
Maybe I am in awe of the car because in reality, I am stupid and can't wrap my head around its workings. Maybe I am in awe of driving because in reality, I am rubbish at it.
But they say ignorance is bliss. Right?
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