The Organized Chaos of Banger Racing

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Unlike most auto racing events where competitors do all they can to avoid one another on the track as they speed toward the checkered flag, in Banger Racing colliding with competitors is a winning strategy. The intention is to wreck competing cars, maybe preventing them from crossing the finish line at all or at the very least, to slow them down significantly. Banger Racing is particularly popular in Great Britain, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands, with fans turning out in droves to support events that feature old scrap cars competing on tarmac or dirt, oval or figure-eight racetracks.

To add some spice to an already fiercely competitive sport, some Banger Racing events feature cars towing trailers or caravans, significantly increasing the element of risk. Not only do drivers have to contend with the constant threat of being bumped off the track, but they have to deal with driving at high speed while towing a trailer/caravan which can already throw a car off balance. Add to this the risk of the trailer being bumped by competitors, and making it to the finish line safely becomes a real challenge.

Other events in the Banger Racing arena include Siamese Banger Racing, so named because two cars are chained together, while being independently driven; and Train Racing, where three cars in a row are joined with the front car having the engine and a driver, the middle car unmanned and the car at the back with a driver operating the brakes. There are also different rules of engagement depending on the skill and experience of drivers, with rookie drivers having minimum contact with competitors and more experienced drivers participating in all out war on the racetrack.

While some may compare Banger Racing to a Demolition Derby event, the objectives are quite different. In a Demolition Derby the objective of the four or five competitors is to render opponents’ vehicles useless, with the winner being the last car still able to move. With Banger Racing, there may be as many as fifty competitors gridded across the track. There is generally a rolling start for the race and there are always a predetermined number of laps to complete with rules applying to skill level. Some Banger Racing events may end off with a Demolition Derby, but by then the participating cars have served their purpose on the Banger Racing arena.

Silverstone Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Britain’s Silverstone Speedway, with its rich history in the world of auto racing, is incredibly fast with a long complex of high-speed corners that thrill spectators and challenges drivers. In fact, most of its twist and turns leave other circuits in the dust. The change of direction is so quick that driver’s testify to feeling the “speed” of the car. You need good aerodynamics at Silverstone, so this is where all the hard work in the wind tunnel before the race pays off!

Silverstone Speedway was opened as a World War II airfield in 1943, near the leafy village of the same name. Once the war had ended in 1945, Britain was left with a number of sprawling airfields, but without a major racetrack: Donington Park was still a military vehicle storage depot, Brooklands had been sold off, Crystal Palace was in a state of disrepair, and Brands Hatch was still under-developed.

The Royal Automobile Club was interested in Silverstone as a potential site and approached the Air Ministry in 1948 and a lease was arranged. At this time, the centre of Silverstone Circuit was a farm that produced cereal crops and raised pigs! Out of such humble surroundings legends are born: the RAC employed farmer James Wilson Brown to create the first Grand Prix circuit at the site and gave him just two months to build it.

On October 2nd, 1948, amid straw bales and ropes, the first event at Silverstone Speedway took place, the RAC Grand Prix. The crowds came in their thousands, thrilled to see the return of Grand Prix racing after so many years of war austerity. The 3.67 mile course sent the 23 competing cars racing round part of the perimeter track, up the two former runways and back to the perimeter. This layout meant cars were racing towards each other head-on until they turned sharp left and returned to the perimeter. For this reason, canvas screens were erected across the centre of the circuit to stop the drivers being distracted whilst the spectators were not permitted to enter the centre of the circuit because of the potential damage to growing crops.

The winner of the inaugural race at the Silverstone circuit was Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati, who recorded an average speed of 72 mph to claim the first prize of £500. A year later, after the hazardous runways were eliminated and a chicane was inserted on the full perimeter road, Silverstone Speedway hosted a second major event in May 1949 – the Formula One Daily Express International Trophy – virtually a second Grand Prix, won by Alberto Ascari.

Another of Silverstone Speedway’s most famous classics also began in August 1949, the Daily Express International Trophy for Formula One cars and for this meeting the Club chicane was dispensed with and the circuit took up a shape that was to last for a quarter of a century.

Back in 1950, Silverstone Speedway was the birthplace of today’s FIA Formula One World Championship. Today the Speedway remains one of the world’s most historic tracks, but the challenges faced on every corner are no less daunting than any other circuit raced by the greatest names in F1 today.

Touring Cars

February 9, 2009 by  
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The term “Touring cars” may seem odd to American ears, since it is a term used mainly in Europe describing race cars that use the body shells from production 4-door sedans. Just about everything else in, or on, the touring car is either heavily modified or is designed for high-speed road and circuit racing. Wings are often added to touring cars. As you can imagine, the resulting car looks strange – sort of a family sedan on steroids! Certain technologies have been banned to limit the costs to builders and keep racing closed. The concept goes down well with European race fans that drive their own family sedans to the track to watch their race-bred counterparts duel it out on the track. Touring car racing is especially popular in Britain, Scandinavia, Germany and Australia.

Touring cars are raced on road courses and street circuits. The types of races run by touring cars include sprints and endurance races that can be 3 to 24 hours in length. The British Touring Car Championship and the World Touring Car Championship are just two examples of touring car races. The British Touring Car Championship traces its origin to 1958, and a variety of cars from different categories race together. The World Touring Car Championship began in 1987 and follows FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) regulations. Perhaps the top European touring car series is the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft. In this series, high tech racing machines are clothed in workday sedan bodies, with some parts such as transmissions and brakes coming right out of the production car parts bin. In the interest of fairness and safety, engines are limited to 470 horsepower – tame perhaps for a race car but not too shabby for a “family sedan”!

A1: Switzerland Wins in Malaysia

November 25, 2008 by  
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It was a hot and humid race, but that didn’t stop Switzerland’s Neel Jani from running a good race and finishing first at the sprint race held at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this weekend. The win marks the fifth different team to win a race so far this season. It seems that despite the hot weather, it all came down to cool, calculated decisions.

A1 Team Switzerland can be very proud of themselves as it was quite an interesting race. Things got a little complicated right at the start of the race. The various cars were traveling in formation towards the starting grid, steadily picking up pace. But then Marco Andretti (USA) and Felipe Guimarães (Brazil) both managed to end up climbing over the back of Narain Karhtikeyan’s (India) car, which resulted in debris being scattered across the pit straight. The unfortunate incident brought out the red flag and suddenly cars that had been speeding up comfortably had to slow down, with the result that the cars at the back of the field ended up being somewhat concertinaed as they tried to cope with the backlash of the accidents without being involved in further accidents. John Martin (Australia) only narrowly escaped an accident by shooting left onto the grass at the last moment. The incident led to a 30-minute delay in the race and by the time the remaining contenders were all lined up for a restart behind the Safety Car, Danny Watts (GB) found himself being forced to head to the pits with a car that simply couldn’t’ be changed out of first gear.

Finally it seemed the race could continue. A1 Team Switzerland held the lead, but David Garza (Mexico) lost out on seventh place to Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands). As South Africa tried to make a grab for eighth place from Mexico who’d now lost seventh, the two were both overtaken by Fairuz Fauzy (Malaysia) who swooped inside to take the much coveted position. Unfortunately it didn’t last long as South Africa accidentally touched wheels with Malaysia as it attempted to once again get into eighth position. The result was a puncture for Fauzy which sent Malaysia to the pits. The day ended with Neel Jani (Switzerland) in first place, Loïc Duval (France) in second and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) in third.

Need for Speed – Auto Racing

July 17, 2006 by  
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In 1898, Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat, set the first land speed record at a break-neck speed of 39.24 M.P.H. In October of 1997, Andy Green of Great Britain moved the needle past the 763 M.P.H mark and becoming the first person to break the sound barrier on land. The need for speed has come a long way.

Since the inception of the motorized vehicle, man as continually pushed the envelope when it comes to speed and how fast we can push our machines. Moreover, the innovation that comes with this need is truly amazing. Mr. Chasseloup-Laubat started with an electric powered vehicle to attain his record run and was a breakthrough in science of that day and today the drivers are using a turbofan, which is essentially an airplane engine.

Over the years, many types of engines have been used from the electric that was used in 1898 followed by steam powered and then the internal combustion engine to today’s turbofan, man will continually seek out a way to make the land vehicle faster. To look at the automobiles and vehicles that are breaking the sound barrier, you would see something that resembles a rocket, for a person to go that fast a rocket would definitely be needed.

If you ever have the chance to travel to some remote desert, like Nevada’s Black Rock where Mr. Green broke the sound barrier, to witness these speed records, fasten your seat belt, hold on and don’t blink because at these speeds the checkered flag is waved quickly.