"Among historians, revisionism means nothing more than asking questions of new information or new questions of old information." -- Robert Post, Who Owns America's Past? The Smithsonian and the Problem of History (The John Hopkins University Press, 2013), 286-287.
This is the operational definition of "revisionism" offered by Post and the one that I would suggest that best fits how the vast majority of trained historians, those with academic appointments as well as the Independent Scholars, actually go about their studies.
The formal study of the past, history, has evolved rather dramatically since at least the latter decades of the 19th Century. Aspects of the past have been examined and reexamined and reexamined once again in some cases. When I began my graduate studies 45 years ago, the study of topics such as gender, sex, sports, and whole gamut of other topics were still considered part of what was then considered as "Radical History," with rumblings regarding the very nature of how to study the past present around the globe. It was not until 1960 that the first dissertation on a sports topic was accepted by an American university, Harold Seymour's (and, to be fair, his wife Dorothy Seymour's since she did a significant amount of the work as his researcher) work on baseball. Richard Mandell, one of my former professors, wrote a book on the 1936 Olympics (The Nazi Olympics, 1971), one of the few monographs on sports history at the time, something that he got away with given that its topic was on the Olympics, a topic which was deemed to transcend "mere sport."
Social history, oral history, cultural history, the history of technology, sport history, and so on have all emerged as accepted fields of historical study and inquiry within roughly the past half century. The notion of "history from below," which we generally include in our historiography classes, is usually attributed to E.P. Thompson's, The Making of the English Working Class (1963), just as one of the catalysts for the development of the field of the history of technology was Thomas Kuhn's, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), the monograph which introduced the term "paradigm" to the lexicon.
My field, military history, was in largely in disarray at the time, for any number of reasons, in large part thanks to its devotion to nostalgia (for example, memoirs), deference to "history from above," and resistance to reevaluating the past (revisionism). By the latter 1980s/ early 1990s, this was in being successfully challenged, both in the USA and elsewhere.
An interesting unintended consequence of the changes and shifts in the study of history over the past half dozen decades has been what I would suggest as an often better level (a subjective term, of course) of "general history" being produced in various fields, with context, nuance, and other aspects of events being incorporated in such works; some now even include notes regarding the sourcing of statements.
Left almost literally on the fringes four decades ago, sport history slowly gained scholarly recognition, but even so, it still somewhere down on the bottom rungs of Clio's domain. Recently, Amy Bass (College of New Rochelle) suggested in her review of the field of sport history in The Journal of American History (June 2014) that sport history should embrace what she termed the "cultural turn" in historical studies as a means of moving more into the mainstream. Needless to say, motor sports never got a mention in either the main article or in the supporting comments. This would suggest that, to no one's surprise, motor sport history is down on the bottom rungs of a bottom rung field. Time and again, any mention of motor sports in monographs on sport history are fleeting at best, often mentioning the same subjects -- the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR, Formula 1, and demolition derbies(!) -- time and again.
That the history of motor sport has largely been left to buff historians and enthusiasts is simply a matter of there being a void, these people then stepping in to fill it. In some cases, their work has been little short of disastrous, but there are other cases in which their work has been exemplary, ranging from the hands-on to the sorting through musty archives, both resulting in excellent work. Yet, this field is pretty much where other fields of historical inquiry were a half dozen or more decades ago, much as the ant frozen in amber. Slowly, very slowly, the number of Independent Scholars and academics joining the journalists, enthusiasts, and buff historian doing work in the field of motor sport is beginning to grow. I have been encouraging others to consider framing the way forward as, The Cultural Turn Meets the First Turn. This takes us back to Robert Post's definition of revisionism, one that suggests that the asking of questions is in and of itself a form of revisionism, such as looking anew at artifacts, wondering why the emphasis on personalities, even expressing curiosity as why the infrastructure of the sport appears to garner little interest, as just a few examples.
At any rate, several of us now think that down the line that the people who will have the opportunity to "save" the study of motor sport once the buffs and enthusiasts begin to die off and fade into the shadows just might be -- or, perhaps, will be -- the scholars.