Dicing with Death -- The Thrill of Speed
Taken from Borgeson, "The Golden Age of the American Car" p.3
"Why do they do it, then?"
One element, certainly not exclusive to motor racing, is the gamble for the ultimate in stakes. "Dicing with Death" is the British cliché for it, and death wins s the toss all too often. Along with this gamble is the gamble for victory against all one's competitors and the heady atmosphere of anxiety and aspiration which it creates. The delirium of victory in this esoteric form of gladiatorial combat is beyond the hopes of most of the contestants, yet they remain in avid competition. It is a strange drug, indeed.
It is compounded by the emotional thrill of the whole experience -- from the completion of a design, to the drawing board, to the patterns and forgings and machine work and assembly. Then to the dynamometer and finally to the track. The clout on the back of tremendous acceleration; the exhilaration of blazing speed, hurtling through the wind crouched in an open cockpit; the thrill of the sound and the smell and of the machine's savage, and the driver hopes, exquisite response to his slightest wish or command; and much, much more. There are plenty of men who will do almost anything to get a ride in a race car, with money the farthest thing from their thoughts.
A very real part of the thrill is sexual, a statement which will not come as news to most psychologists nor to most members of the racing fraternity. There are those of us who very consciously can experience degrees of orgiastic transport with a suitably inspiring mechanical companion.