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Auto Racing: More Than Meets the Eye

Posted November. 10, 2005 03:34,   


“I started to fall asleep from watching the cars going around and around the race course, like a squirrel running on a treadmill.”

This is a typical reaction of many people who watch auto races on TV. But if you get the chance to go to an auto race in person, your reaction might change.

Oh Su-yeon (25, office worker) couldn’t hide her excitement for racing, saying, “I don’t really like cars that much, but at the beginning of this year I went to an auto race by chance and became totally fascinated. Now I’ve become a diehard fan.”

The huge din of the exhaust pipes of dozens of cars (the maniacs argue that this is actually a sound) makes the hearts of observers race.

Although the most prestigious national race, the BAT GT Championship Series, is broadcast on MBC, and Formula One is broadcast by the sports network MBC-ESPN, if you want to do a car race justice, it’s necessary to go directly to the race course.

Every year in Korea, the Everland Speedway, redone in 1995, holds the most competitions from March to November. Additionally, the Taebaek Circuit in Taebaek, Gangwon has opened the new Asia Speed Festival, an international competition, and many races are planned. Next year, an auto race course is expected to open its doors in Ansan, Gyeonggi to host international events.

According to the Korea Automobile Racing Association (KARA), which manages auto racing within the country, there are 20,000 auto racing enthusiasts and 600 professional racers enrolled in the association.

In order to debut as a car racer, the most common method is to go to a racing team and take a test. Racing licenses can be obtained from KARA (www.kara.or.kr), and you can get information on competing teams on the websites of each major competition.

There are also specialty racing schools. One racing school, operated by pro racer Lee Myeong-mok (39), who recently won an international championship, opened in August 2002, and has had over 500 students. The cost of the two day basic racing course is 980,000 won.

The easiest way is to learn auto racing is on a kart, a child’s race car. Since these can be driven without a license on specially designated courses, there are many young racing maniacs. This year’s BAT competition GT1 champion, Hwang Jin-woo (22, Kixx Lexus Racing Team), and the first woman Formula champion Kang Yoon-su (20, Tachyon Racing) mastered their skills in karts.

Chang Jeon jeon@donga.com