What will race cars look like in 2025?

The Mazda KAAN.  See more concept car pictures.
Courtesy of Design Challenge Motorsports 2025

Ther­e's something about car racing that grabs the imagination. The speed and the danger make the sport seem romantic and glamorous while racing designs and technology have made their way into everyday life. The sleek shape of an old-fashioned toaster mimics the rake of the 1950's Formula One cars, while fashionistas wear jackets with mandarin collars and sneakers with rounded heels -- both designs originally developed for race car drivers.

Auto racing has influenced everyday products, but it has also influenced, well, car racing. Designers and engineers are constantly pushing toward that next record, toward even greater speed and control. While there are many types of car racing, and each has produced its own technical and design innovations, much of the innovation in car racing has come from the most popular forms of the sport, including stock car racing and Formula One racing.

­Of course, it makes sense that the most popular, and best-funded, types of car racing gave rise to some of the best known innovations. Some of the things that we take for granted in everyday car design, like aerodynamics, were developed from the early days of car racing when teams discovered that a car with a smooth and sleek body could cut through the air more easily, posting faster lap times. Even though racing is all about speed and handling, a number of safety innovations came directly from car racing, too. After all, if you're going to be going that fast, you need a good strong safety system in the event of a crash. This thought gave rise to such safety features as shoulder seatbelts and the concepts of safety cages and crumple zones. Even components that we now consider basic equipment on modern cars, such as disc brakes, also came from auto racing.

Yet the sport of auto racing continues to innovate. Today's race car engineers and designers are experimenting with lightweight materials, like carbon fiber, to make racecars safer and stronger while innovators interested in alternative fuels and propulsions systems are beginning to race cars that function completely different from the cars on the track at Talladega. It's tough to say where all of these new ideas will take racing, but the 5th Annual L.A. Auto Show Design Challenge offered a glimpse at the types of racecars some automotive designers are envisioning for the future.

Keep reading to see what some of the industry's most innovative thinkers believe race cars will look like in the year 2025.