Albert Park

February 9, 2009 by  
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Situated in the City of Port Phillip in Victoria, Australia, Albert Park and Lake lie roughly 3 kilometres south of the Melbourne CBD. Set in 555 acres of stunning parkland, the Albert Park incorporates a number of sporting facilities, ovals, a golf course, a walking track and the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

Besides hosting a number of premier racing events, the park and Gunn Island provide a great habitat for a number of bird species, bats, possums, reptiles and amphibians. You’ll also find the Bob Jane Football stadium and the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre at Albert Park while the lake is used to host regular regattas.

Every year the Australian Grand Prix is held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, a street-based circuit that snakes its way around the Albert Park Lake. It is this spectacular event for which the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit is best known and the race usually takes place on the Labour Day weekend. Though the race takes place on a number of everyday sections of road, these sections were rebuilt prior to the inaugural race in 1996 so they are quite smooth when compared to other public road circuits. Add to this the picturesque setting of Albert Park, and the racetrack is an unbeatable location for Formula One racing. What’s more, the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit at Albert Park is one of the few places on the Formula 1 calendar which are situated near a body of water.

Drivers generally find that the track is fast and easy to drive and learn. However, it does not make overtaking easy and spectators generally have to have a grandstand seat in order to enjoy the race. As early as four weeks before the major event, the majority of the trackside fencing, pedestrian overpasses and grandstands are put up in preparation. All of this is generally removed again in the two weeks following the event. Though a small number of people find the limited access to the various park facilities during this time to be an inconvenience, the majority of the public enjoy the race and venture out to see it each year.

Texas Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the Texas Motor Speedway was built between 1995 and 1996. The original track featured a dual banking system with a 24-degree bank for stock cars and an 8-degree bank for open-wheel vehicles. The track is classified as a superspeedway as it is more than one mile in length and it is similar in layout to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The track’s ‘Turn 4’ was reshaped in 1998 to make transitions from the turns to the straightway easier. Further renovations that same year eliminated the dual banking and resulted in the track currently in use today.

The Texas Motor Speedway measures 1.5 miles in length and features a quad-oval design. It has been banked 24 degrees in the turns to facilitate fast racing and the front straightway juts outwards a bit. It also has a seating capacity of more than 200,000 for NASCAR and IndyCar racing events. The track features tunnel bumps on Turns 2 and 4 which add to the its uniqueness. The track is currently owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. At one stage the Texas Motor Speedway was considered to be the ‘fastest non-restrictor plate track’ to appear on the NASCAR circuit. Qualifying speeds exceeded 192 mph and corner entry speeds were often clocked at over 200 mph. However, with the gradual wear of racing surfaces other tracks, such as Atlanta, proven to be faster. Currently the top qualifying record is held by Brian Vickers who posted a 196.235 mph speed in 2006.

The Texas Motor Speedway is home to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races – making it a very popular racetrack with big attendance figures. The races which it hosts are the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 and the Dickes 500. It also hosts the O’Reilly 300 and the O’Reilly Challenge – both of which are Busch Series Races. The Bombardier Learjet 550 is the only Indy Racing League race that it hosts.

Bahrain International Circuit

February 9, 2009 by  
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Located in the Persian Gulf and linked to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway, the Kingdom of Bahrain plays host to one of the F1 Grand Prix events each year at the Bahrain International Circuit. Bahrain not only hosts the annual Formula One Grand Prix, but it also caters for drag racing and GP2 series races. In 2006, Bahrain was also able to host a V8 Supercar race, the Desert 400, and a 24 Hour Race. Much of the racing takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit – a brilliant circuit that is a source of national pride.

It was the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa who initiated the construction of the Bahrain Circuit. The project became a national objective for the Kingdom and a lot of effort was put into making it the best racetrack possible. As the Honorary President of the Bahrain Motor Federation, it was easy for the Crown Prince to see the need for a proper racetrack in the country. By the time that the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled to take place in 2005, the racetrack was still not complete. However, it was advanced enough for the race to take place which is exactly what happened. The success was phenomenal and the track has hosted an annual Formula One race ever since.

As a desert track, the Bahrain International Circuit has posed rather unique challenges. For one thing, there were concerns that sand would blow onto the circuit and disrupt the races. Organisers managed to overcome this by spraying the sand surrounding the track with a special adhesive to prevent movement. The track was designed by the German architect Hermann Tilke and it cost roughly US $150 million to construct. The circuit features six separate tracks: a Grand Prix track, an inner track, an outer track, a paddock circuit, a drag strip and an oval track. The full circuit measures 6.4 kilometres in length and has 15 turns.

The Bahrain International Circuit hosted the opening race of the 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championship on 12-14 March, with Rubens Barrichello taking first place in his Cosworth-powered Williams.

Motorcycles

February 9, 2009 by  
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Motorcycles vary greatly in size and design from 50cc minibikes to sport and cruising bikes with multi-cylinder engines boasting displacements of over 1,000cc. Motorcycle racing can be risky business requiring great skill and confidence. There are many kinds of motorcycle races in which various types of motorcycles can compete.

Road racing is done on public roads or purpose-built tracks and includes racecourses such as the Isle of Man TT and the Macau Grand Prix. Racers may enter different categories such as the 50cc races, the classic motorcycle racing section or superbikes. Specially designed motorcycle racing tracks have been designed for circuit racing. Top-level circuit races include MotoGP and Superbike. Classic motorcycle racing involves the racing of modified motorcycles that date from the 1970s or earlier.

Motocross and Supercross are popular races held on natural or man-made dirt tracks and often feature large jumps. It can be a real thrill to watch a half-dozen roaring machines leap into the air in unison! Supermoto is a combination of road racing and motocross racing. In Motorcycle Speedway circuit racing, the riders will slide the bikes around the corners, their kneepads sometimes scraping the track as they lean into the turns. This is also done in grass track motorcycle racing.

Enduro racing involves traveling over long distances through rough, isolated terrain. A typical example is the famed Dakar Rally that takes usually takes place in the West African nation of Senegal. Completing a course that includes sandblasted stretches of the Sahara Desert, one really learns the true meaning of the word ‘endurance’. Motorcycle endurance rallying is not focused on completion time, but rather works off a points system. The race covers great distances and takes many days to complete. Then there are low speed races called Motorcycle Trials. In this type of motorcycle race, competitors use specially designed bikes and must traverse a daunting range of obstacles. Motorcycle drag racing (or Sprints) is pretty much what it sounds like: two riders accelerating down a quarter mile straight track, with the first to the finish line being declared the winner. In Hill Climbing, the riders must attempt to make it to the top of the hill in the quickest time. Last but not least is Land Speed Racing. The object here is for a motorcycle rider to exceed the previously set speed record. The rider accelerates over a distance of 1 to 3 miles and is timed at the end of the run.

Most of the many types of motorcycle racing described above are conducted in different experience levels, such as Novice and Pro motorcycle racing. Pro motorcycle racing is taken very seriously, and involves significant financial backing and the need for sponsorships to help cover the costs of fielding a team.

Circuit de Monaco

February 9, 2009 by  
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Circuit de Monaco, opened in 1929, is an outstanding Formula One street circuit. Located in Monte Carlo, the F1 Circuit of Monaco is considered by many to be the grandest in the sport. Well known for its challenging twists, Monaco’s F1 circuit is popular with drivers and spectators alike. Held annually in the month of May, the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix incorporated some of the streets of Monte Carlo and of La Condamine, and the atmosphere among spectators is phenomenal – it is certainly the dream of many F1 fans to attend a race at Circuit de Monaco.

Anthony Noghes of Manegasque car club originally came up with the idea of turning the streets of Monaco into a Formula One circuit. The first race on Monte Carlo’s circuit was held in 1929. William Grover-Williams, racing for Bugatti, gained victory at the inaugural race.

The 2.092 mile or 3.367 km Monaco circuit is known for its tight turns, thus driver skill and ability is of greater importance than the power of the car. Monte Carlo’s roadways are narrow and provide little opportunity for overtaking. A renowned section of the circuit is the tunnel where F1 drivers have to deal with the quick succession of light changes. Certain adjustments have been made to the Monte Carlo F1 track making more space for pit stops. Of course as the Circuit de Monaco is held in the streets it needs to be constructed each year, a process which takes approximately 6 weeks.

Let’s take a look at what the drivers have to deal with when racing at Monte Carlo. The lap begins with a brief drive up to the almost 90 degree St. Devote corner. This is followed by an uphill leading to the Massenet left-hand long turn. Driving through Casino Square the drivers come to the challenging Mirabeau corner and quickly into the Grand Hotel hairpin. Next is the Portier double right-hander which takes the F1 drivers to the tunnel. Just out of the tunnel is a tough left-right chicane. A short straight heads to the Tabac corner. Drivers then accelerate on to the left-right-right-left spot called Piscine. Drivers have a short straight to prepare themselves for a quick left and immediate La Rascasse 180 degree turn. An adversely-cambered straight guides drivers to the Virage Antony Noghes corner, the last of the lap. Drivers make their way down the straight to cross the start-finish line for the next lap.

Although considered by many as a dangerous circuit, Circuit de Monaco is set to remain an important host of Formula One, providing drivers and spectators with breathtaking action.

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