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.

Gilles Villeneuve Circuit

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit was named in honor of Gilles Villeneuve, a Canadian driver and father to Jacques Villeneuve. The circuit was constructed on a man-made island named Ile Notre-Dame, which is located in the St Lawrence River, in Montreal. In addition to hosting the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, the circuit hosts an event in the NASCAR Busch Series. It was also home to the Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Montreal that was hosted here between the years 2002 to 2006.

With its location in the St Lawrence River, for most of the year, Ile Notre Dame is a quiet island that is lush and green and the fastest moving objects on its surface, are animals, cycle enthusiasts and the joggers. But for a few days each year, within this idyllic setting, the island comes alive with racing action and all its accompanying noise and frantic activity.

The Gilles Villeneuve Circuit is part street circuit, and is extremely fast, with a common problem for drivers being to misjudge the barriers that are located very close to the track. The most famous part of this track, is a wall that is located just outside the end of the last chicane, which said “Welcome to Quebec” and was later nicknamed the Quebec Wall. Three Formula 1 champions had their races brought to an abrupt end when colliding with this infamous wall, namely Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. The wall no longer carries the name Quebec Wall, but was renamed the Wall of Champions.

In 2005, the curbs in the last chicane were made higher, and drivers complained that they were more difficult to see and that the curbs made the chicane even more difficult for drivers to navigate. The changes were extremely controversial, as they had reduced the area for general admission ticket holders, to see the race. This forces spectators to purchase grandstand tickets, to enable them to see.

Normand Legault was awarded exclusive rights, by the city of Montreal, to host two race weekends on the track. Legault is the promoter for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix. The contract for the rights, runs from the year 2007 to the year 2011, after which there is an option to extend it from 2012 to the year 2016. The Champ Car Races have been replaced with the NASCAR Busch Series and the Grand American Road Racing Associations’ Rolex Series.

Hockenheimring

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Hockenheimring, or Hockenheimring Baden-Wurttemberg, is located near the town of Hockenheim, situated in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. This circuit is the host to the Formula One German Grand Prix, and many other racing events.

The Hockenheimring was constructed in the Rhine Valley in 1932, and was built due to the closing of the Wildpark-Circuit that was located in Karlsruhe, by German Officials. In its early years, the Hockenheimring Circuit was used for motorcycle races, but in 1936 it became a test track for Auto Union and for Mercedes-Benz. The circuit was renamed to Kurpfalzring in 1938, but the name only lasted until the year 1947 before reverting to its original name. Grand Prix motorcycle racing was held here after the war, alternating between Hockenheim and other racing circuits.

Originally, Hockenheimring consisted of an eight kilometer track, that had two long straights, with a U-turn and an outstretched eastern corner running through the forest and joining the two straights together. The Autobahn A6 separated the main part of the track from the village in 1965, and it brought about the construction of the “Motodrom” stadium and a new Hockenheimring Circuit version. Crash barriers and two chicanes were added after Jim Clark had a fatal accident in a Formula 2 race in the year 1968. An additional chicane was added in 1980, to the Ostkurve, after another driver, Patrick Depailler, lost his life.

Formula One Officials requested that the Hockenheimring circuit be shortened in 2000, as the track was 6.8 kilometers, and gave the state government of Baden-Wurttemberg an ultimatum that either the circuit must be shortened, or they would move the event to another circuit. The state government received financing and commissioned Hermann Tilke to redesign the circuit before the 2002 German Grand Prix. The redesign had most of the stadium section remain the same, except for a much tighter corner in Turn 1 and new surfacing. The circuit was shortened to the extreme, which cut off the entire forest section and replaced it with more tight corners. The tight hairpin corner that was added to follow a long straight, has presented drivers with another opportunity for overtaking. A large stand that is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, gives the Hockenheimring Circuit a spectator capacity of 120,000. It also has a quarter-mile track that hosts drag racing, with the Nitro Olympics being the biggest event in Europe.

The German Grand Prix was hosted by the Hockenheimring Circuit for the first time in 1970, and from 1971 to 1976 the German Grand Prix was hosted by Nurburgring. During the years 1977 to 2006, the German Grand Prix moved back to the Hockenheimring Circuit, with the exception of 1985. It was decided that from 2007, starting with Nurburgring, the German Grand Prix will alternate between Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring Circuit.

Belgian Grand Prix

February 9, 2009 by  
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Belgium held its first national race in 1925. It took place at the race circuit in the Spa region, which was an area rich in racing history. The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was constructed in 1921, used primarily for motorcycle racing until 1924, but also hosting Grand Prix racing. In 1923, a very successful 24 Hours of Le Mans was raced in France, which led to the Spa 24 Hours race to be hosted at the Spa track.

The Belgian Grand Prix is a favorite amongst both the fans and the drivers. The Spa-Francorchamps is also famous for it extremely unpredictable weather conditions. For example, it had rained for 20 Belgian Grand Prix’s consecutively. Drivers are constantly confronted with conflicting weather on different parts of the track. One side will be sunny and clear, while the other is slippery, miserable and rainy. To many F1 drivers, the Belgian Grand Prix is the most dreaded circuit on the Formula One racing calendar, due to its challenging conditions.

Antonio Ascari, took first place at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1925, and his son, Alberto, would go on to win in the years 1952 and again in 1953. Antonio Ascari was tragically killed in the French Grand Prix, after winning the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix. While leading the Belgian Grand Prix in 1939, Richard “Dick” Seaman, a British driver, lost his life. Alan Stacey was killed when a bird flew into his face, and Chris Bristow also lost his life in the same race, in 1960.

After deciding Spa was too dangerous in 1972 Belgian officials made the decision to alternate the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix between the Nivelles and Zolder circuits. Unable to sustain the Belgian Grand Prix at the Nivelles circuit, the race track eventually faded out, and Zolder was used in the following years. However, the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix returned to Spa-Francorchamps in 1985, where it has remained. Michael Schumacher made his debut at Spa-Francorchamps in the year of 1991 and returned in 1992 to win his first race in Formula One. He also surpassed the all-time record of Alain Prost, by securing his 52nd Grand Prix win at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Spa-Francorchamps Circuit is completed in 44 laps, with a total race length of 306.94 kilometers. The FIA announced in 2006, that Belgium would not be part of their race schedule for that year, as major work to repair the track, had been started. The Belgian Grand Prix returned to the schedule in 2007 with Kimi Räikkönen taking first place. The year 2008 saw a controversial win by Filipe Massa, after Lewis Hamilton received a drive-through penalty which negated his first place position. Kimi Räikkönen took first place again in 2009.

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