Why Racing will make Flying Cars a Reality Sooner

Sep 04 2020


Why we must thank the pioneers of motor racing for giant leaps forward in mobility.

I’ve often asked myself why the flying cars we were promised in science fiction haven’t happened yet.

Some of the world’s great technology and engineering companies have made significant and admirable strides in making them happen. The eVTOL (electrical vertical take-off and landing sector) is predicted by Morgan Stanley to be worth $1.5trillion by 2040 and Uber, Airbus, and Toyota have all invested heavily. Their focus is rightly on shared transit solutions. The vision is for ‘flying taxis’ to serve hubs in major cities. The benefit to populations in these urban areas cannot be overstated. Their success will liberate cities from congestion with a clean-air, next-generation solution.

Despite the commercial and societal potential of this next great mobility revolution and the great progress already made by the industry, key questions must be answered before we see flying cars above our cities. Racing, as it did at the dawn of the automobile age can answer many of these, namely; performance, safety technology, and awareness. Indeed, history tells us, there is no greater catalyst for progress than raw sporting competition.

A century ago, the motor car was viewed as the aristocracy’s weekend indulgence, a folly unlikely to catch on with the wider public. Those pioneering manufacturers had such a job persuading people that these contraptions could replace horses — they created highly competitive trials across near impassable mountain terrain in Europe to prove their viability. Despite very few ‘horseless carriages’ finishing, the simple sight of automobiles driving through villages captivated and convinced anyone who saw them that the automobile might have a future.

Auto racing began five minutes after the second car was built.
Henry Ford Ford Motor Company

The car age was started in the furnace of the very first motorsport competition.

Natural human competitive instincts led to rapid leaps in performance and reliability. This was the era of giant strides not incremental improvements. Sub 20mph ‘speed records’ in the early 19th century were superseded by 100mph+ runs by the end of the first decade of the 20th. Today’s Formula 1 teams spend hundreds of millions of dollars to shave off the 10ths of seconds that separate mediocrity from greatness.

It is on the shoulders of these pioneers and outliers that I have built Airspeeder, the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars and Alauda, the performance eVTOL company that will supply the craft.

Airspeeder is the world's first flying car series

Their endeavours are a daily source of inspiration for me and my team. The racers and the engineers that built these rudimental road-going rocketships by the standards of the day drove with skill and bloody-minded competitiveness. They wowed onlookers through mastery of their machines on dirt roads, often threading a needle through medieval towns and down perilously steep mountain switchbacks.

They were fuelled by a competitive spirit that ultimately led to the performance, comfort, and safety advances we take for granted today. Without motor racing, we wouldn’t have seatbelts, ABS, and traction control.

Today, our mission to advance the cause of the flying car will benefit from the technological leaps started by our forebears and their unreasonable pursuit of going faster.

The world needs this next mobility revolution and as it always was, it’ll be the racers, the outliers, and those unreasonable ones we’ll thank for making it happen sooner.

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