Want to Be Successful as a World Championship Racer?
If you live in the United States and want a career in competitive racing on a global scale, then you might want to consider studying a foreign language or two. For the most part, American drivers and crews have it made on the world's stage. Since the 1950s when Formula One (which is often considered to be the top echelon of auto racing) was founded in Europe, most of the teams and eventually the team's drivers learned to speak English. For no other reason, the vast majority of chassis engineers and engine builders worked out of British speed shops. But, that preceded the onset of the sport's amazing live "digital" feeds.
While Europe was the sport's traditional base, over the years the single-seat auto racing sanction has expanded to the far corners of the world. The popularity of the sport on other continents has led to a global television audience in excess of 500 million viewers per season. Most of the credit for such a rapid expansion of the franchise goes to executive and former team owner Bernie Ecclestone. Under Ecclestone's leadership as head of the Formula One Constructor's Association, he convinced team owners to "hunt as a pack". In doing so, the sport began to sell itself to markets that had never before been a consideration.
Suddenly, drivers and team members began to show up from obscure racing nations like India, Thailand, Rhodesia and Morocco giving birth to a true world championship field. What happened was a growing need for a lingua franca (a common language) that could be used to communicate among crews as well as address the media to promote the team's sponsors. Since some countries refused to use a rival nation's language, good old "American" English became the language of choice. Today, virtually all team communication between the pit and driver are in English.
Drivers from other nations quickly realized the business value of speaking English along with their native tongue, and many of today's Formula One drivers could impress a crowd at the United Nations. However, the tides they may be a changing. Racing teams have started to spread out across the world and many are no longer headquartered on English-speaking soil. In addition, the crews are incredibly large nowadays and involve speakers of many differing tongues. So, if you're considering a career on a world-class race team, learning multiple languages could serve your career well. But, don't expect your foreign rivals to feel sorry for you. After all, they had to learn an Americanized-version of English before you.