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.

Atlanta Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Formerly known as the Atlanta International Raceway, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is located in Hampton, just to the south of the city of Atlanta. Atlanta Motor Speedway, is a 2.48 kilometer superspeedway, that has a quad-oval circuit and a spectator seating capacity of approximately 125 000. The track first opened in 1960, but condominiums were erected over the northeastern part of the Atlanta Speedway track in 1994. This construction led to the track being redesigned and practically rebuilt in 1997. The front and backstretches were swapped, and the oval form of the track gave way to quad-oval. Today, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fastest NASCAR track on the entire NASCAR circuit. The track also includes a 4 kilometer road course, approved by the FIA, and a Legends racing track, between the main track and the pit road.

This NASCAR circuit was seeing qualifying lap speeds of approximately 311 kilometers an hour, with the fastest recorded lap speed of 317 kilometers an hour, between the 1990s and the 2000s. The Texas Motor Speedway, that was designed very similar to the Atlanta Speedway, did have faster times during 2004 to 2005, but after its surface was worn, the higher speeds returned to Atlanta. Tracks such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway did once have faster lap times, averaging about 322 kilometers an hour, but NASCAR mandated restrictor plates for these tracks, making the average speed approximately 306 kilometers an hour. The Atlanta Motor Speedway’s slogan is “Real Racing. Real Fast.” This is not an exaggeration, as NASCAR has not mandated restrictor plates at this track.

Hurricane Cindy hit the Atlanta Motor Speedway on 6 July 2005, with the damage being estimated at approximately 40-50 million US Dollars. Debris was littered across the track, facades were torn off, roofs were damaged, scoreboard towers were knocked down or left leaning and new grandstands had to be built to replace those that were built in 1960. But against all odds, Atlanta Motor Speedway was ready to race by the next big event and has gone on to welcome spectators to witness some of the fastest racing in the United States.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Welcome to America’s speedway! The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built on 328 acres of farmland 7 miles north-west of downtown Indianapolis in the spring of 1909. It didn’t start out as one of the most famous racetracks in the world. It was planned as a year-round testing facility for the fast-growing automobile industry in Indiana. Occasional race meets would be presented at the track, featuring those very same manufacturers racing their products against each other. The basic marketing logic being that spectators would be more apt to purchase a new car if they saw its performance on a race-track.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally four turns, each banked at nine degrees and 12 minutes and measuring exactly 440 yards from entrance to exit, were linked together by a pair of long straights and, at the north and south ends of the property, by a pair of short straights to form a rectangular-shaped 2 ½ mile track as dictated by the confines of the available land.

Check out these track statistics:

Road Course: total track length: 2.605 miles (4.192 kilometers)
Main straight length: 3,037 feet (926 meters)
Back straight length: 1,755 feet (535 meters)
Total turns: 13 (Left turns – 4; Right turns – 9)
Average track width: 46 feet (14 meters)
Expected Lap Time: 72 seconds
Expected average speed: 130 mph (210 kph)
Expected highest speed: 187 mph (301 kph)
Race Distance: 190.294 miles (306.235 km), 73 laps
Time limit on Race: FIA rules stipulate that Formula 1 races have a maximum time limit of two hours. This race should be completed in less than two hours, barring an emergency stoppage.

The original surface of Indianapolis Motor Speedway was made of nothing but crushed rock and tar, which proved to be disastrous at the opening motorcycle and automobile racing events in August of 1909. So a staggering 3,200,000 paving bricks were imported by rail from the western part of the state. They were laid on their sides in a bed of sand and fixed with mortar, thus inspiring the nickname “The Brickyard.” The name has stood forever more.

Asphalt was first applied to the rougher portions of the track in 1936, and by 1941, all but the greater part of the straightaway had become blacktop. The remainder of the bricks were finally covered over in the fall of 1961. Most of the original paving bricks are still in place underneath the modern asphalt surface, with only the famous “yard of bricks” still exposed at the start/finish line as a nostalgic reminder of the past.

The track has changed ownership only twice. With Carl Fisher heavily involved in the development of Miami Beach and Jim Allison’s nearby engineering company growing rapidly, the foursome sold Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1927 to a group headed up by WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker (Rickenbacker had actually driven in several Indy 500s before he ever knew how to fly).

These days the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, opened in 1909, is the world’s largest spectator facility and the only racetrack to host the Indy Racing League, NASCAR and Formula One. Since 1911, the Speedway has been the home of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500 each May. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (formerly Brickyard 400) has quickly become one of NASCAR’s most coveted races since the inaugural event in 1994 and heats up the track in late July. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway completed the Triple Crown of Racing in 2000 with the addition of June’s United States Grand Prix, the only Formula One race run in the United States.

Formula 1

February 9, 2009 by  
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Formula One is considered by many to be the apex of auto racing and motor sports. Highly specialized and designed for top speeds, watching Formula One race cars gliding around circuits is nothing less than thrilling. Formula One, also referred to as Grand Prix and F1, is a million dollar sport, attracting numerous big-name sponsors and massive crowds lining up for their F1 tickets. Enjoyed throughout the world, most people know at least the big names in the sport of F1.

Formula One racing falls under the governing body of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile or FIA. The FIA sets out a number of rules and regulations for both cars and participants, ensuring safety and fairness in races. Formula One circuits or tracks are scattered throughout the world. During the F1 world championship several races are held at these circuits. By the end of the Grand Prix season all the results are added up. World Championship titles are awarded to the winning driver of the season as well as to the winning constructor. The world of F1 is divided into Formula One teams, typically with two main drivers. These F1 teams establish close relationships with F1 race car manufacturers so as to test and develop the best racing cars. Successful Formula One drivers earn large amounts of money especially through sponsorships. Well-known names such as Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen and Fernando Alonso have shot to Formula One fame.

The history of Formula One racing extends back many years. Road races were held as long ago as the 1890s in France. The original race cars weren’t designed with aerodynamics in mind and were quite heavy. Races took place along public roads and drivers had to bring mechanics along. The first ever Grand Prix was hosted at Le Mans in 1901. World War One brought a brief end to auto racing in Europe. A number of drivers decided to compete in the USA’s Indianapolis 500. Two of the best manufacturers during the 1920s were Bugatti and Fiat. The 1930s were marred by the Great Depression. Reduced money led to a decrease in Grand Prix’s fan base. However, 1933 witnessed a remarkable win by Tazio Nuvolari at Monaco. Germany began to emerge as an F1 leader in 1934 with teams such as Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. The German’s also brought aerodynamics into the design of Formula One vehicles.

Modern Formula One racing is said to have begun in 1950 with the Pau Grand Prix. For some time British F1 teams dominated the sport, gaining victory in 12 World Championships. Wings were added to F1 cars in 1968 to improve traction through downforce. In 1978 ground effects were also introduced but later banned in 1983. 1977 saw turbo chargers on the track. These too were banned in 1989. Since those times Formula One vehicles have been improved and developed greatly.

Formula One is an extremely popular sport that is set to continue drawing large crowds to F1 circuits and TV sport channels. Broadcast worldwide, Formula One racing and drivers have a global following.

British Grand Prix

February 9, 2009 by  
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The British Grand Prix, held at Silverstone Circuit in the Northamptonshire area, is a highlight on the FIA Formula One season calendar. Henry Segrave first established the British Grand Prix in 1926, after he had won the French Grand Prix in the year 1923 and the Spanish Grand Prix in the following year – achievements which fueled interest in auto racing in the UK.

Since 1950, and the beginning of the Formula One Championship, the Silverstone Circuit has annually been the host of the Formula One British Grand Prix. The French team, with Robert Senechal and Louis Wagner, behind the wheel of a Delage 155B, won the first British Grand Prix. Between the years 1955 to 1962, the race was held at Aintree and between 1964 and 1986, it was at Brands Hatch. But in 1987 the British Grand Prix returned to Silverstone Circuit, where it has remained. The Silverstone Circuit is raced in 60 laps and the total race distance is 308.46 kilometers. In 2003, the Formula One authorities and Silverstone owners entered a heated debate with regard to the maintenance of track facilities. This led to the British Grand Prix being left off the racing schedule for 2005, and great doubts started immerging for the future of British Grand Prix. After heated negotiations, it was agreed that the Silverstone Circuit would host the British Grand Prix, till 2009.

A Formula One street parade that was held in 2004 led to speculation regarding using London as a street circuit venue for the Formula One British Grand Prix. The parade that attracted approximately 500,000 people, also raised speculations that if a London street circuit were to host the British Grand Prix, that it would either alternate between Silverstone Circuit, or replace it completely. Another alternative is that of a completely separate, London Grand Prix venue. Even though the London Mayor sees the street circuit as being beneficial to the city, there is still a difference in opinion amongst the Formula One community.

In mid-2008 it was announced that Donington Park would be hosting the British Grand Prix for a period of ten years from the 2010 event. However, having failed to secure sufficient funds to host the race, the contract was nullified and was re-awarded to Silverstone for a 17-year period. With Silverstone’s newly renovated and redesigned circuit, the British Grand Prix promises to be even more exciting than before.

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