If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a racing fan or just love the sound of auto racing sponsors. Otherwise, there’s probably not a lot of interest in the automotive industry in general, or motorsport in particular, that you wouldn’t already know about. Ism stands for International Socialist Movement. Founded in 1902, Ism is an international organization that advocates for socialism and other far-left politics. One of their main goals is to further these ideals through social engagement and activism. They believe that engaging with the community, especially within the racing scene, is the best way to do this.
Ism Is All About Engagement
While having a team of engineers and scientists working on the vitals of a vehicle is cool and all, sometimes a more human touch is needed to really make an impact. This is where engagement comes in. Ism feels that involvement in grassroots activism is the best way to make a difference. They want to use motorsport to give a voice to the voiceless and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive.
The organization got involved in motorsport about a century ago, when it came to the fore as a platform for political discussion. The first official motorsport race, as we know it, was the 1912 Indianapolis 500. In the decades that followed, motorsports grew in popularity and became a unifying factor for the automotive industry. Teams of engineers, architects, and designers were able to push the boundaries of what was possible, in part, because of the money and resources that big car companies could marshal.
However, as cars started getting faster and more efficient, the thrill of driving them began to diminish. This, in turn, affected racing. In the late 1950s, after the global economic climate changed for the worse, the growth of motorsport slowed drastically. Some of the largest races, such as the Indianapolis 500 and the 12 Hours of Sebring, were canceled. It was a sad day when the last of the great races, the Grand Prix de Paris, was also canceled due to safety concerns in the wake of the 1968 Olympic massacre in Mexico City. After this dark moment, racing took a bit of a backseat to other professional sports.
Why Ism Chooses Motorsport As A Platform?
I have my own theories about why Ism chooses motorsport as a platform for social change, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide. First and foremost, I think that motorsport, and especially Indianapolis 500 races in particular, allow for the perfect storm of engagement. Not only do they allow for a relatively closed system, where human interaction is limited, but they also feature teams of passionate individuals who are completely invested in the outcome. Finally, and most importantly, motorsport is incredibly accessible; anyone, regardless of financial means, can participate in the sport. These three factors make it the perfect platform for an organization like Ism, whose members want to see a different world, to make a difference.
What Ism’s Impact In The Community?
Since its establishment, Ism has advocated for and worked towards the betterment of society. One of their more recent campaigns is called “Real Change Begins At The Community Level,” which aims to promote better race relations within the motorsport community. To that end, they have established the “Honda Indy Civil Rights Movement,” which they consider “the first of its kind in historical motorsport.”
According to Ism, the main source of friction in the motorsport community, and indeed the broader society, is poverty. When people are marginalized and lack equal opportunity, they are more likely to resort to violence and hostility. Thus, Ism wants to improve race relations through social engagement. Specifically, they are concerned about the use of derogatory language, especially towards members of the African American community. For example, in 2006, the Indy 500 featured a Grand Prix de Paris, which was won by a Polish driver, Rafał Przewalski. During the celebrations afterwards, an African American motorcyclist, Kevin Ellis, approached Przewalski, asking if he would pay back the millions of dollars that his country had invested in him. To which Przewalski replied, “Nigger, I would whip your ass.”
Ellis, who was accompanied by his brother, Michael, filed a complaint with the police. However, as it turns out, the Przewalski family, along with other prominent racing families, had paid for Michael Ellis’ law degree. The incident led to the creation of the “Honda Indy Civil Rights Movement,” which is still going strong today. In addition to working to bring equality to motorsport, Ism also sponsors a scholarship program for African American students, called the “Przewalski Family Scholarshiop.”
How Does Community Engagement Help?
The rise of motorsport during the early 20th century was, in part, due to advances in technology and the desire of people to better themselves. However, over the decades, cars started getting less physically demanding. More and more, it became a sport that required mental acuity. This, in turn, shifted the focus of the automotive industry, and the entire motorsport community, to a new platform: the mind. In the words of Henry Grisoni, “Forces of habit and mental inertia keep us from being what we could be.”
In light of this, Ism promotes community engagement as a means to break down mental barriers and create more opportunities for everyone. In other words, it’s about making people more open-minded. To that end, they want to create more engaging experiences, whether it’s through motorsport or social activism, and have an impact in the communities that they serve. Through these platforms, they want to make a difference and affect social change for the better. It’s an important part of their mission, and one that has, over the years, inspired many.
Will Community Engagement Affect The Future Of Motorsport?
If you ask me, the focus of the automotive industry, and of motorsport in particular, should be on racing. That’s what it was designed for, and that’s all it should be used for. Unfortunately, the world is a bit more complex than that. With increased public interest and safety concerns, as well as more sophisticated engines and electrical systems, the world of motorsport is changing. It’ll always be associated with cars, but I doubt that it’ll ever be quite what it once was.