Can you think of how cool it might be to have bionic body parts? As a fan of racing, do you think it’s fair for athletes to surgically modify their bodies to better suit their sport? What advancements might be reasonable in the near future? Let’s let our imaginations run wild for a minute.
How about synthetic body parts to prevent serious injuries? Collarbones with replaceable shear pins. That one would be great! Motorcycle racers in all disciplines break their collarbones all the time. People have these shoulders that just stick out and when we land on our sides the collarbone is kind of the weak link. How about ribs made of flexible yet rigid polymer securely fastened to heavy duty vertebrae and sternum. Titanium pelvis and carbon fiber hip bones could be a serious weight reduction. The crazy thing is that it’s probably not that far from being possible. After all, most of the technology we use was a sci-fi concept not too long ago.
The line has already been drawn leaving no allowance for synthetic parts. Athletes are drug tested to make sure they aren’t using any drugs that could be improving their performance. They are expected to be completely natural. But could you imagine what might be possible even with current technology? In my opinion I think it would be the same as making improvements to the equipment being used. A better rider is almost always going to beat a slower rider no matter what equipment they’re on. Better equipment just makes the athletes job that much easier. So that might mitigate the entire objective in surgical modification. After all, you can’t install talent.
But what if robots were able to pilot the machines better than humans? That might already be the case for auto racing but I think it defeats at least part of the purpose of racing. We race mainly to see who is the fastest. It also matters what is the fastest, but I think that’s relative. Is there value in testing the limits of “stock” humans? Is there a point at which that pursuit becomes purely nostalgic? If there was no doubt that the machines could go faster around a track without us would it take away the sport‘s legitimacy? For some sports I think this might be the case but I think the motorcycle is nothing without the human rider. I think racing will never get old in the same way that finding out who can run or swim the fastest will never get old even though we’ve been doing that for all of human history.
It’s food for thought.