Bike numbers:
January 21, 2009 5:25 PM   Subscribe

How are motorcycle (or otherwise) race numbers determined?

I've searched and searched, but can't find any real reason how race numbers on vehicles are determined. Is it random? Are they placing numbers from certain races?

I just can't seem to find a straightforward answer. Thanks..
posted by furnace.heart to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
Depends on the series.

For amateur/low-end racing, when you apply you tell 'em the number(s) you'd prefer, and they generally give them out first-come, first-serve.

Higher-end racing is similar, except that the numbers are randomly assigned to teams and typically outlive a single season/single driver. Occasionally exceptions are made when a number is associated with a "famous" driver.

That's all I know.
posted by davejay at 5:33 PM on January 21, 2009

Yup, davejay pretty much got it. In the WERA southeast series, I requested and got 493, which is the prefix of my mother's phone number.

That consideration did not soften her up at all.
posted by workerant at 5:41 PM on January 21, 2009

Other than the reigning champion getting number 1, there are often no rules. If the reigning champion is not racing in the series, no-one can have number 1 in most championships. It has always been first come, first served in all the racing I have done.

In F1 way back (1993), the reigning champion's (Mansell, who went to Indycar) team had the rights to the number 1, as they were his team, but Damon Hill raced with 0, as he couldn't have the 1 on his car. His team mate was 2, regardless of his championship standing.

I don't think the rest of the numbers in F1 are random, they used to relate to the team's championship position (of team, not driver). More details on the massive complexity in F1 regs here.
posted by Brockles at 6:19 PM on January 21, 2009

In Formula 1, the driver who is the defending driver's champion has number 1, his teammate number 2. All other drivers are awarded their number by their team's position in the constructor's championship, then by their status in their team (number one driver gets the lower number and the red, as opposed to yellow, on-board camera).
If you look at the numbers for the 2007 F1 season, Fernando Alonso wore the number one as he had won the driver's championship the <>previous year with Renault. As defending constructor's champions, Renault was awarded numbers 3 and 4, even though their best driver Giancarlo Fisichella only finished fourth in the driver's championship the year before. Number 13 is traditionally skipped.
It gets really entertaining in supercross and motocross, where "current AMA National Champions can carry the No. 1 plate. Numbers 2 through 9 are reserved for past National Champions in active competition, or they may select any available number. Riders ranked in the top-10 in combined Supercross and Motocross points can choose a Career Number from 10-999 which they keep until they withdraw from competition or fail to earn a National point. Riders outside the top-10 in combined points are assigned consecutive numbers through 99 based on year-end points, but can request a higher triple-digit number" source. Numbers in the 3- and 5- hundred range also have specific meanings, but I'll be darned if I can remember what they are.
Here's the list of the 2009 AMA national numbers.
Note also that in AMA SX and MX, the 450 class has black numbers on a white background, and the 250 class has white numbers on a black background, and all defending champions wear a red background.
Most other series are as previously mentioned: ask and ye shall receive.
posted by BarnacleKB at 6:24 PM on January 21, 2009

Wikipedia breaks down the arcane rules for auto-racing pretty well here.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:19 AM on January 22, 2009

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