Motorsport is all about pushing the limits to find any way possible to gain a competitive advantage. While the same can’t be said about our commute to work (for most people), we still benefit on a regular basis from features that were originally developed at the highest level of motorsport. Let’s go over a few of the most interesting developments!
Rear View Mirrors
One of the most fundamental safety features equipped on every car was introduced just three years after the introduction of the Model T. The earliest known usage of a rear-view mirror was at the very first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Sadly, the car vibrated so much that the mirror proved to be basically useless. Luckily, the idea wasn’t scrapped after its first outing!
The earliest disc brake models appeared in the early 1900’s, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s where they were deemed reliable enough to use during the 24 Hours of Lemans. Their stopping power and reliability led Jaguar to claim victory in 1953, which kicked off a revolution in the automotive industry. From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, virtually every road car began transitioning from drum brakes to disc brakes, and we’ve never looked back!
AWD (All Wheel Drive)
Modern AWD was introduced during the 1980s, a time when there virtually no rules or regulations in the world of rally racing, allowing for some of the boldest (and most dangerous) design choices ever seen in motor racing. The most memorable of these 500+ hp machines is the Audi Quattro, which was the first of the bunch to introduce a modern AWD system. By no coincidence, the Quattro enjoyed two consecutive championship victories. To this day, Audi still uses the Quattro nomenclature to promote their all-wheel drive models.
There was a time where even the highest-powered cars in the world had to be operated with a traditional stick shift. This made for some stunning footage when such cars were taken to the narrow streets of Monaco. At speeds near 200 mph and barriers only inches away, drivers navigated the circuit with one hand on the steering wheel seemingly half the time. Semi-automatic gearing has since made driving through narrow roads easier for racers, and has given commuters more control of their vehicle without the potential inconvenience of working a manual gearbox in stop-and-go traffic.
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