Good charioteers became heroes. Each charioteer worked for a team. The teams were distinguished by a colour, such as Green or Red.
Great skill was needed and races were very exciting with many spills and crashes. Drivers were killed on a regular basis.
Most charioteers began as slaves. The successful ones soon made enough money to buy their freedom.
One famous charioteer was Gaius Appuleius Diocles. He began driving for the Whites at 18. At 24, he switched to the Greens for 3 years, then drove 15 years for the Reds before retiring at the age of 42. He won 1,462 of the 4,257 four-horse races. His winnings totaled 36 million sesterces.
Diocles’ career was unusually long. Many charioteers died young (Fuscus at 24, Crescens at 22, Mollicius at 20).