Participant observation in sport management research: collecting and interpreting data from a successful world land speed record attempt
Dibben, M and Dolles, H, Participant observation in sport management research: collecting and interpreting data from a successful world land speed record attempt, Handbook of Research on Sport and Business, Edward Elgar Publishing, S Soderman & H Dolles (ed), UK, pp. 477-494. ISBN 9781849800051 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]
Motorsports and motorsports management is more commonly associated with the multimillion dollar big business of for example Formula One, the World Rally Championship, or motorcycling’s MotoGP and World Superbikes. Each of these sub-industries – or ‘circuses’ as they were euphemistically known because of their arrival en masse at one venue, their performance to a paying audience, and their subsequent departure to the next venue – is a grouping of increasingly highly professional corporatized teams headed by charismatic archetypal entrepreneurs, competing under the regulations of the World Motorsport governing bodies of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA ) and the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FI M). They are almost without exception located geographically and culturally in Europe; only the CART and NASCAR racing series dominate the North American market. The barriers to entry to these sub-industries are extremely high and the politics surrounding entry are notorious (Dolles and Söderman, 2008; Henry et al., 2007). This is in contrast to most motorsports activity, which has historically been characterized by artisans, small businessmen, a genuine family atmosphere and a culture of ‘run what you bring’ and ‘make do and mend’, in which competitors would help each other with problems, both technical and personal (for example, Dibben, 2008; Stewart, 2007; Pearson, 1965 ). The values of motorsport here are, arguably, richer, where spectators are not excluded from the paddock and so can experience not only the racing as a spectacle but participate to a certain extent in the human side of the ‘circus’; the emphasis is more on the fostering and enjoyment of social capital as opposed to the garnering of economic wealth.