The length, difficulty to learn, numerous turns, elevation changes, location in the woods of Germany, amazing history. Gayle and I went there last year for the first time in almost 20 years. We couldn’t believe how built up it is now. It used to be a place in the middle of nowhere with one hotel. Now there are many hotel choices, restaurants, shops, etc. In addition to the great track experience it is now a comfortable place to visit.
Length, high average speed, challenging corners, elevation changes. Great spectator viewing. There’s nothing quite like standing along the expansive Eau Rouge front straight as a car blasts by on its way up and over the hill to turn three. Don’t forget to pick up some of Belgium’s finest chocolate while in the area. At the track I personally lean toward the fries with all their various sauce options.
America’s national park of tracks. Beauty for both the drivers and spectators. Going to a race at Elkhart is like a beautiful weekend picnic with fine automobiles racing by. The best of both worlds. If you can, rent a golf cart as the place is expansive and you’ll want to enjoy all of it. Be sure to fit in a Johnsonville bratwurst and a frozen custard.
The infamous corkscrew. Nothing else like it in the world. Unlike the previous tracks I’ve mentioned, the track isn’t hidden by trees so it’s fairly easy to find a spectator location where you can view several corners and a fair amount of the track. It’s also a place where we always see great friends and the restaurant options in Monterey and Carmel are endless.
The course is mostly run on local roads that are closed to the public during race week. The allure of Le Mans is not so much the track it’s the race that occurs there. Running flat out for 24 hours for the cars, drivers and spectators gives this course a unique reputation and feel. The tradition and history of a race that’s been run since 1923 is evident. The racing is also good as the ACO’s quirky French rules are designed to push ingenuity vs. convention. Le Mans… it has rightfully earned its place on almost everyone’s bucket list.
Pikes Peak Hillclimb
It’s not really correct to say this is one of my favorite race courses. It used to be a completely different challenge before it was paved. Now, with the road fully paved to the top it’s still a race like no other. You can be sweating in the bright sun at the start line and freezing in the wind and snow at the finish line on the peak. The cost of running off course is huge as the earth falls away for hundreds of feet if you get off-line at the wrong spot! To continue my commentary on track food…. the night before the ‘climb Gayle and I buy a box of donuts. The next morning we place the box in the engine compartment. The donuts get toasty warm and fresh as we climb the mountain at 3 a.m. to find the spot where we’ll be all race day.
The course changes every year which adds some intrigue and required research to determine where and how you want to watch. Baja is like sex….it’s all good but some is really special. Once you learn a great spot to watch you can go back each year (if they run that same part of the course). The cars run on a particular section only once so if after they go by you the first time, and you’d like to see them again, you can get on the main highway and move farther down the course to watch ‘em come by again or maybe go across the peninsula and catch them heading for the finish. It will feel like you are also part of the race just to get there before they pass. Anything can happen in Baja which is part of its allure so stay flexible and enjoy… it’s an adventure you’ll never forget and you’ll feel you’re part of it.
There’s nothing in the world like the almost limitless expanse of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Bonneville is about getting up close and personal with the cars and teams. Everything moves very slowly at Bonneville, except the cars! Even after the cars are prepped the line to race can easily take a couple of hours. This is the time when you can spend quality time talking to the crews and drivers. Their work is done and there’s time to talk, learn the history of each class and what makes each car so special. Watching the cars run can be interesting too, but be sure to bring a set of binoculars...and a lot of sun screen!
I’d like to hear what your favorite race courses are and why.