Why Racetracks Run Counterclockwise

Posted January 12, 2008

Why Racetracks Run Counterclockwise

Clocks move clockwise because they were modeled after the shadow movement of the gnomon on sundials. (You knew that, didn’t you?) But did you ever wonder why horse races, dog races, auto races, and human track races all run counterclockwise, as well as skating rinks and carousels? Dance pupils told to take a ”warm-up walk around the room” tend to circle counterclockwise. This “time-reversal instinct,” according to some psychologists, is simply a subconscious desire to run back away from the oncoming locomotive-death.

Job saw time as “but a shadow” (Jb 8:9). Time and time again, God’s word reminds us that time is lent to be spent, directly or indirectly, in the Lord’s service. “Be very careful, then, how you live,” says Paul, “not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (Eph 5:15-16). Ralph Waldo Emerson echoed that thought: “Any time is a good time if you know what to do with it.”

The Bible affirms that our lifetime (not just the time of our life) is short and uncertain. And we must “render an account of our stewardship” of that time loan. Above all, time is precious. In Ben Franklin’s words, “If time be of all things most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality.” Think about it!

“One-Minute Meditations for Busy People” by Fr. John H. Hampsch, C.M.F.