Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Superstitions From the World of Motor Racing

        Auto | Motorsports

5
The Number 13
Black cats and the number 13 have always been considered unlucky, and definitely were so for this Modified stock car driver in the early-1950s. (ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)
Black cats and the number 13 have always been considered unlucky, and definitely were so for this Modified stock car driver in the early-1950s. (ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

The number 13 is considered unlucky practically everywhere, but the superstition has some interesting consequences in the racing world. NASCAR numbers the pits so that no crew gets stuck working in the number 13 spot, lest they bring bad luck to the driver or the car. Championship driver Joe Weatherly once qualified 13th for a race, but NASCAR allowed him to start in position 12a instead. And though F1 driver Michael Schumacher established a preference for odd numbers, 13 wasn't among them. However, when Formula One drivers were offered the chance to pick permanent numbers for the 2014 season, Pastor Maldonado, a Venezuelan racing driver, decided to take his chances with number 13.

The unlucky 13 was a big deal in two-wheeled motorsports, too; but according to Motocross Action Mag, a few prominent racers have managed to reverse the trend. A handful of riders, over the last decade or so, have chosen to wear the number 13. The American Motorcyclist Association, the organization that manages motocross racing, won't force riders to associate themselves with the number 13, so intentionally bearing those digits is a sign of confidence. It takes a lot of chutzpah to win such a race, and maybe that's also what it takes to change the flow of fortune.


More to Explore