Whether you are a fan of Formula One or not, it was hard to not read about the recent Bahrain Grand Prix. Due to the spreading “Arab Spring,” which has swept through many Middle Eastern countries as a backlash to oppressive or dictatorial governments, the Bahrain Grand Prix became a lightning rod of politics.
The months leading up to the event were rife with mainstream news stories of whether it was right for Formula One to race in—and thus legitimize—a country that was forcibly suppressing free speech and its people. While the media by and large treated this as a new and novel issue for motor sport, what I found interesting was the fact that not only has Formula One been in this position numerous times before, but how motor sport and Grand Prix racing have historically served as a valuable tools for dictatorships to prop up their regimes.
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