The Undying Obsession for Speed

December 7, 2020

Speed has always fascinated humans for centuries. It’s a test of how fast something or someone can go. It’s a testament that man can overcome Chronos, the god of time. But why are we so obsessed with speed? Why do races excite us? Why do we celebrate those who can do it the fastest?

Scientists believe that our so-called “need for speed” is caused by biological factors. According to Scienceabc, speeding increased testosterone levels which perhaps explains why men love going fast. It also triggers dopamine, a chemical that travels through our brains which result to a strong feeling of pleasure.

A Brief History of Racing

The quest for speed dates back to ancient times and are best memorialized by the Ancient Greeks through the Ancient Olympic Games which date back to over 700BC. The popular Greek jars depicting these games we see today signify how humans desire to push themselves to the limit. And speed was one of them. From running on foot in Panhellenic tracks, races were later on transformed into a main form of entertainment by the Romans through chariot racing. Ancient Rome built magnificent ovals and colosseums to host this kind of event. Thousands of spectators would watch and bet on their favorite chariot which often ended brutally. From then on, racing has evolved to merge man and animals and machines.

Racing as a Modern Sport

Today, millions of sports fans support different kinds of races. Billions of dollars are generated from horse races, Formula 1 events, triathlons, and the prestigious Tour de France. While sprints and marathons are still widely practiced in sporting events, racing has become a hobby. Joining fun runs have become a mainstream way to celebrate a cause or gather people for celebrations.

Technology has also become more involved in evolving the game of speed. Robots and computers are playing a major role in helping man achieve speeds never reached before. The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird aircraft for example is a testament that man can surpass the speed of sound, thus being called “supersonic”.

Such is our obsession with going fast that the word “race” itself has been applied in so many other situations in history. There was the “Space Race” between the US and USSR in the 1960s which put these two countries head-to-head on who will achieve what first. Another one is the “race against climate change” where our society is trying to beat the clock from Earth’s continuing demise. More recently, we have the “vaccine race” in which various countries are fighting its way to finding the best cure against COVID-19 in the fastest time.

Racing has indeed changed along with the times but our long-standing obsession for it will always remain the same.