Figure 8 racing is a form of stock car racing in which automobiles race on a track that purposely intersects itself, increasing the risk of collisions. Figure 8 racing is most common and popular in the United States and Canada.
Racing is done on a track shaped like an 8. The cars cross paths at the center of the 8, which is known as the "crossover" or the "X". Because of this layout, crashes are common. Figure 8 racing is a unique form of motorsport that requires strict attention to detail and timing to successfully navigate the crossover. In Canada, figure 8 racing often takes place as a part of demolition derby events. Two obstacles, often concrete blocks or vehicles are placed in the demolition derby ring to form a figure 8 track.
Figure 8 track racing began right after World War II, in the late 1940s. The track may have had an overpass so that the cars did not cross each other's paths. Most historians believe that the first track where drivers crossed paths was the 1/5 mile-long Indianapolis Speedrome. The sport received nationwide publicity when it was frequently televised on ABC's Wide World of Sports in the 1960s, usually from Islip Speedway in Islip, New York.
The cars used are often stock cars, but are usually modified for lightness and safety, by removing the window glass and often adding a roll cage. A wing much like a sprint car is sometimes placed on the roof to increase downforce. The cars' bodies are typically made out of sheet metal. All manner of vehicles have been used. School buses have become popular, especially at county fairs, because of their extended exposure for crashes.
The oldest operating figure 8 track in the United States is the Indianapolis Speedrome in Indianapolis. The track has been in operation since the 1940s. It hosts the annual World Figure 8 race, which is considered the world championship event. The first three-hour endurance race was held in 1977.
Many of these tracks have configurations that allow for both standard oval and figure 8 races.
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