Taking place at the Monza Speedway, the race covers 53 laps of the 5.793 kilometer track. The track lap record of 1:21.046 was set by R Barrichello in 2004. For more information visit www.formula1.com
Date: 9 September 2012
Venue: Monza Speedway
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”!
Rallying or Rally Racing is a form of point-to-point racing where drivers navigate their way between different sets of points along a circuit. Highly modified production cars are used for Rally Racing and these are generally constructed with particular terrain in mind. For example, cars used in Desert rallies need to be able to cope with much different road and terrain conditions compared to those faced by Winter rallies. Rally racing tracks are usually made up of closed off public roads or off-road areas, which means that a rally car can (and usually does) encounter a wide variety of terrain.
Entrants in Rallies are permitted to scout the track before the race and the co-driver (or navigator) uses this information to his team’s best advantage. The co-driver makes use of “pace notes” which are read aloud over an intercom system in the car to the driver in order to assist him in completing each stage of the rally as fast as possible. The winner of the rally is usually the team with the lowest total elapsed time for the entire event.
Rally cars are unusual in that they must be able to travel ordinary roads and therefore must conform to the road regulations of the host country. This is necessary because often the entrants must drive in un-timed stages from one timed course to another. Rallying has evolved considerably from its humble origins in the early years of the 20th century, and today rallying is immensely popular around the world, especially in Europe. Some sources estimate that Rally Racing ranks second in popularity to Formula One racing. Manufacturers and fans around the globe support the World Rally Championship, and rally events take place in some of the world’s most inhospitable areas such as the Sahara Desert or Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle.
Not many people in the world will have heard of the term ‘Folk race‘ before. This is because this type of auto racing mainly takes place in European countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway. The sport receives little coverage but is very popular due to the low expenses and little driving skill that is needed to participate in it.
Folk race racing originally came from Finland, though the idea behind the sport is very similar to ‘banger racing’ which is commonly found in Britain, some parts of Europe and in a few places in the US. The event takes the form of a race, which is run on a gravel or tarmac track that measures approximately 800 meters in length. These tracks are designed in such a way that speeds in excess of 80 km/h should not be possible. Thus, the race is not so much about speed and skill and instead the focus is on trying to ‘bump’ your opponents off the track as you try to make your way up the ranks. Because of the damaging nature of the sport, only old, dented cars are usually used. Any type or model of car can be used as long as it is fitted with the regulation safety equipment. This makes getting started relatively easy and inexpensive and is one of the reasons the sport is so popular.
The average Folk race competition is divided into different classes which are usually determined by factors such as age and gender. Age limits are quite low and anyone over the age of five may race. The race itself is usually separated into different heats with six cars in each heat. The drivers are awarded a number of points according to where they place in each heat and at the end of the race these points are tallied up to determine who the top six drivers are. These top six then go on to race in the ‘A final’ and the winner of the A final is the overall winner of the event.
Folk race racing is somewhat different from other auto racing events in that limits are put on how expensive the cars are, instead of how cheap they are. All cars must cost no more than the set standard and must meet the minimum safety regulations. However, this does not mean that all cars are equal and often the more mechanically minded car owners will have better cars as they can fine-tune them themselves. It means that each race is exciting and unique. If you ever have the chance to enjoy a Folk race while in Europe you should definitely do so, as this is a wildly entertaining form of motor sport.
When the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone first mentioned that he would like to host a night race at the Asian Grand Prix, he was met with a variety of different opinions and concerns. Ecclestone commented that a night race in Asia should increase the number of television viewers, especially in Europe. It would then become a day race for the European enthusiasts, instead of being aired in the early hours of the morning. He also anticipates that the effect of the night race will be spectacular and hopefully draw a larger crowd of spectators.
Some drivers have been concerned regarding the safety of a night race. If the lighting on the course is not sufficient and drivers cannot see the road, accidents could occur. Visibility on the track if it were to rain is another point that has been raised. Everyone involved, drivers, organizers and team bosses, know that there is a vast difference between racing at night and during the day. If an accident were to happen, would ground crews be able to cope with the situation as effectively at night as they do during the day? Many questions have been raised in regard to the suggestion.
Organizers of the Malaysian Grand Prix have expressed their enthusiasm in regard to hosting a night race. They believe that a night race would draw more spectators to the Sepang Racing Circuit, as the cooler night temperature is more bearable. If spectators will be prepared to stand and watch the race throughout the night can also not be confirmed. Amidst the concerns and questions, it has been reported that Bernie Ecclestone will consider a late afternoon race if his ideas are met with too much opposition. During these discussions Ecclestone again mentioned his desire to see twenty races during the racing season, opposed to the current seventeen. This will enable more countries to host the Grand Prix races. His suggestion has always been met with great reluctance, as more races, means more work and a larger budget.
If Ecclestone wins the night race debate, we might see night races taking place as early as 2008. Most drivers aren’t really concerned about when and where they race, as long as they can see the track clearly and their safety has been taken into consideration. Of course, it is the fans and spectators that will also be able to either support the initiative with their presence or oppose it by their absence.