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.

French Grand Prix

February 9, 2009 by  
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The French Grand Prix or as its called in France, the Grand Prix de France, is part of the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile’s annual Formula One automobile racing championships. Grand Prix motor racing as a whole originated in France, making the French Grand Prix one of the oldest Grand Prix races to ever take place. The first French International Grand Prix to come about was run on the 26th of June 1906 under the sponsorship of the Automobile Club de France in Sarthe, with as many as thirty-two racing cars taking place.

But the first organized event of this kind was part of a Reliability Trial run from Paris to Rouen and took place in 1894 over a distance of 126 km. The Le Petite Journal organised the event and wrote that the winner of the “horseless carriage” must be “safe, easily controllable and reasonably economical to run.” Twenty-one contestants took part, leaving on July 22nd, with the Count de Dion coming home first in his steam driven De Dion tractor. However the vehicle was not considered a practical car and the prize went jointly to a Panhard-Levassor and a Peugeot, with winning speeds of an exciting 17km/h. This race was quite a breakthrough considering when the first “horseless carriage” was introduced. The vehicle was seen as something to get to places quicker but by no means reliable, so the thought of speed on these machines was unthinkable at the time.

Then in 1925 the first ever World Championships were organized. This included the French Grand Prix, the Belgian Grand Prix, the Italian Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. Since 1950 when Formula One was instituted, the French Grand Prix has been part of this organisation. Formula One has been held all over France at various racetracks, including the Autodrome de Montlhery. Then in 1991 the French Grand Prix was given a permanent home at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. The reason for such a move to such a remote area was in an attempt to boost the local economy.

Financial problems cast a shadow over the 2004 and 2005 French Grand Prix events, although they continued as planned. As it turned out, 2005 was the last French Grand Prix to be held, as despite many efforts to continue including France in the F1 racing circuit, financial and logistical problems thwarted each new attempt. For the 2010 F1 season, there will be no French Grand Prix, however, French auto racing enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the Paul Ricard Circuit has been put forward as a candidate to act as host in 2011.

Red Bull Racing F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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Still a relatively new to the F1 racing scene, the Red Bull F1 Racing Team is one of two teams owned by Red Bull. Red Bull is an Austrian beverage company which focuses on the sale of an energy drink said to boost energy and mental vitality. It enjoys a good global marketing campaign and is known for sponsoring and supporting adrenaline-pumping sporting activities around the globe. The Red Bull Racing team is currently managed by Christian Horner and is set to give up their British flag soon in favour of an Austrian one.

The team started when Red Bull made the decision to purchase Jaguar Racing at the end of the 2004 racing season. Up until that stage, Red Bull had been in a long-term partnership with the Sauber Formula One team. This partnership was broken with the establishment of the new team. Red Bull is dedicated to their F1 team and also to the development of the sport as a whole. The company currently also owns the Toro Rosso team for the development of promising F1 drivers and the Red Bull Junior Team for the development of young drivers. Red Bull Racing also reached a political high-ground with the signing of the Concorde Agreement which will come into effect in 2008. Thus far only four teams have signed this agreement which commits to long-term involvement in the sport.

Red Bull Racing made their debut in the 2005 racing season with David Coulthard in the driving seat. Backing him up in the team’s second car was Christian Klien, who had driven for Jaguar during the previous year, and Vitantonio Liuzzi. By the end of the year it was decided that Liuzzi should drive for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team while Klien would remain with the Red Bull Racing team. In their first year they came sixth in the Constructors Championship and their final number of points outshone Jaguar’s performance over the past two years combined. They even contended for a place on the podium for much of their debut season. In 2006 the team made the decision to switch to Ferrari engines which would help them comply with a rule change mandating the use of V8 engines. 2006 also saw McLaren’s technical director, Adrian Newey, join the ranks of the team, which finished the season 7th in the FIA Constructors Championship, with driver David Coulthard finishing in 13th place.

Having used Ferrari engines in 2006, Red Bull Racing passed the Ferrari contract to Scuderia Toro Rosso, and took the decision to use Renault engines for the 2007 F1 Championships season. Principle drivers for 2007 were David Coulthard and Mark Webber, with Robert Doornbos as the third driver for the team. Despite some problems with the team’s cars during the season, it finished in 5th place in the 2007 FIA Constructors Championship. Using the same drivers in 2008, Red Bull Racing saw one of its driver’s up on the winning podium again when David Coulthard took third place in Canada. However, the team started questioning the wisdom of changing over to Renault engines, especially when the Red Bull ‘B’ Team with their Ferrari-powered cars passed them in points by the season’s end.

The 2009 season started off better for Red Bull Racing as Sebastian Vettel won the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix, with Mark Webber taking second place in their Renault-powered RB5 cars. The team followed up with points victories at the Spanish, Turkish, British, German, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events, finishing in 2nd place in the FIA Constructors Championships. The 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championships saw Vettel taking the World Championship for the Red Bull Racing F1 team.

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