RE: [CR]Probably silly question # 6037, but why counter-clock wise?

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Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 09:53:53 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerome & Elizabeth Moos <>
Subject: RE: [CR]Probably silly question # 6037, but why counter-clock wise?
In-Reply-To: <>

Is this true in Europe, or only America? I am a fan of Formula 1, and have noted that almost all Formula 1 circuits are clockwise, with only a couple "anticlockwise" as the British say it. But all the US oval tracks for auto races are counterclockwise, AFAIK. If it is true that all bicycle tracks are counterwise, perhaps it is because it was America that dominated the early days of track racing (the first World Championships were in Chicago), whereas Britain dominated time trialing and Europe road racing.

Of course, that doesn't answer why the US established the practice of running both bicycle and auto races counterclockwise. Actually, counterclockwise does make some sense for auto races in the US, since we have the steering wheel on the left, which puts it toward the middle of the track when the car is close to the wall, making it easier to observe rivals trying to overtake. The trouble with this theory is that US bicycle racing is obviously older than US auto, and on a bike it it wouldn't really seem to matter which direction one raced.


Jerry Moos Big Spring, TX wrote: Nah... Tell your wife she is totally wrong, Tom.

1.) Explain that it certainly must be because of the "Coriolis Force" effect - the principle which also dictates that cyclones rotate in a counter-clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere. If the Earth did not rotate, the air would flow directly in towards the low pressure center, but on a spinning Earth, the Coriolis force causes that air to be deviated with the result that it travels around the low pressure center. So, it is simple Earth physics which makes this the Natural and Harmonious direction in which bicycles "SHOULD" circle the oval (north of the equator, that is...) Right? ... Okay, I'm joking.

2.) Perhaps it actually has to do with historical custom... as in the direction horses were raced in earlier days.

3.) Or... Roughly 90% of all people are right handed. So, perhaps it is because of the predominantly greater strength of the right hand - to more easily counteract the inertia of the rider (commonly referred to as Centrifugal force) as he would tend to move away from the center of rotation?

:-) Silly answers... to a not-so-silly question.

Bob Hanson, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Tom Sanders wrote: I am wondering why all race tracks that I know of that are either circular or oval seem to have the racers going counter clock wise. Is there a reason for this? My wife speculated that perhaps it has to do with our reading right to left and that folks who read left to right may have different set ups...I think she is on shaky ground there, but I can't sure say she's wrong. Anybody out there know? Tom Sanders Lansing, Mi USA

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