Imola

February 9, 2009 by  
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Imola is a picturesque little town in the province of Bologna which can be found on the Santerno river in north-central Italy. For much of the year this ancient Roman settlement enjoys a charming tranquillity that lends itself to romantic getaways and leisurely holidays. Imola is best known for two things – it is the home of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari and the San Marino Grand Prix. It also unfortunately known as the track where the legendary Ayrton Senna lost his life in 1994. Rubens Barrichello was also badly injured in that very same race.

The Formula One San Marino Grand Prix is named for the nearby independent republic of San Marino but it is held in Imola. The track as Imola was used for the 51st Italian Grand Prix in 1980 and became a regular home for the San Marino Grand Prix shortly afterwards. This Formula One championship race has been run at the Autodrome Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola since 1981. It was named for San Marino as there was already an Italian Grand Prix at the time. Since San Marino is too small to host a grand prix, the decision was made to use the track at Imola and name the Grand Prix after the republic.

Motoring enthusiasts are usually pleased to learn that the area surrounding Imola is home to a number of racing car manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. What’s more, a number of local roads have been linked together to form a test track for these manufacturers. This means that bystanders are often given the opportunity to see new and improved models in action as they are being tested on the public roads. Imola has a strong racing legacy and cars have been zipping around the area since 1954.

The first non-championship event with Formula One cars to be held here took place in 1963. However the racetrack at Imola really came into its own when, in 1980, the Italian Grand Prix was temporarily moved to Imola from Monza after a massive and tragic start line pile-up. The following year the Italian Grand Prix was moved back to Monza and the decision was made to launch the track in Imola as the San Marino Grand Prix. Though the track has been incredibly popular during the course of it’s racing career, recent accidents and deaths have brought up complaints of unsafe road-surfaces and other scruples. As a result the San Marino Grand Prix may soon end a long and successful period as a brilliant Formula One Grand Prix host.

The 2010 Italian Grand Prix will be held at Monza.

Monza Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Monza Speedway has been hosting Formula 1 for decades and its track is Ferrari’s favorite battlefield especially when pitched in front of the typically enthusiastic Italian spectators. The races held on the Monza Speedway are fast. So fast in fact, that a car’s speed can be reduced only when entering the chicanes – used to create a horizontal diversion of traffic (and can be gentler or more restrictive depending on the design).

No circuit currently on the Grand Prix calendar can beat the history, passion and speed of the Monza Speedway. Built in only 100 days, the circuit was opened on August 28, 1922 – making Monza the oldest, and most respected, circuit in use today. The circuit is built in the attractive Royal Park in Monza, a small town just northeast of Milan.

The original track was built as an oval with two long straights and two banked corners, the only part still in use today, is the start/finish straight. Although the rest of the original circuit is not in use, it still lies silently in the forest of Monza. The modernized track is the fastest in the Formula one circuit, with speeds up to 200 miles (320 km). Because of safety regulations the track has been revised more than ten times, especially the Prima Variante, the first chicane, which has been revised more than 20 times.

Because Ferrari sees the Monza Speedway as one of the two home circuits, the crowd are one of the most passionate fans in the world. Ferrari red is the color which is seen the most during the Grand Prix weekend. Work began on the track in 1922 and was completed less than six months later. After Brooklands and Indianapolis – and with a total track length of 10 kilometers – the Monza Speedway became the third permanent race track in existence.

The Monza Speedway is regarded by many as the embodiment of Formula One racing. Not only is it a fantastic example of a track that combines speed with skill, it also has a heart and soul all its own. It has seen some of the finest races of all time, but also some of the sport’s worst accidents. The names of the great drivers and the sounds of engines from years gone by linger in the grand old trees which surround the track in the royal park.

The list of famous victories and horrifying accidents is long, and all combine to make the Monza Speedway one of the most magical places on the Formula One calendar. For many there is nowhere that encapsulates the sport better than this circuit, which the Italians call “La Pista Magica,” or the “magic track.

Monza F1 Grand Prix, has been taking place on the Monza Speedway since 1921. As the largest Italian racing complex and one of the largest in the world, the Monza Speedway is set in the large Parco di Villa Reale. The park, almost 700 hectares, it the largest walled park in Europe and is more than 200 years old! In addition to the speedway, the park contains many other sports facilities such as an Olympic swimming pool, polo club and the Milan Golf Club, with a 27-hole course!

The Monza Speedway includes three tracks: the Gran Premio track, 5,793meters; the Junior track, which can be lit for night races, is 2,405meters; and a speed track with raised curves for setting records and technical testing, of 4,250 meters. The Gran Premio track is one of the fastest on the Formula 1 scene.

Juan Manuel Fangio

February 9, 2009 by  
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Juan Manuel Fangio, also known as “The Maestro”, a legendary race car driver. Master of Formula One when it first began, Fangio was a 5-time World Champion. His record of wins was only recently defeated by Michael Schumacher who himself said that he could never be greater than Juan Manuel Fangio.

Juan Manuel Fangio was born in Argentina on 24 June 1911. His parents were originally from Italy. Fangio’s grand racing career began in 1934. He chiefly took part in long-distance races on the dirt roads of South America. Fangio won the Gran Premio del Norte of 1940, a race that takes some 2 weeks and covers a distance of 10 000 km. Following World War Two, Fangio began racing in Europe. Although one of the oldest drivers around, Juan Manuel Fangio quickly caught the eye of spectators. Fangio’s success truly came when he began racing with Alfa Romeo in 1950, winning his first championship title in 1951. In 1952 he was racing for Maserati when he sustained a neck injury in an accident at Monza. The next year he continued with Maserati, coming in second for the season. Fangio moved to Mercedes in 1954. He once again took home the World Championship title. Mercedes later discontinued participating in racing after the Le Mans disaster of 1955.

Juan Manuel Fangio went on to race for Ferrai in 1956 and won his fourth title. Maserati once regained Fangio in 1957. He again cruised to victory, winning his fifth title. Very few will forget his remarkable performance at Nurburgring of Germany. Fangio drove his last race in 1958, the French Grand Prix. An amazing driver many believe that no one will ever meet Fangio’s record for wins against starts.

Following his retirement as an F1 driver, Juan Manuel Fangio became a representative of Mercedes-Benz. He became an International Motor Sports Hall of Fame inductee in 1990. In 1995 Juan Manuel Fangio died at a grand age of 84 and is now buried in the Balcarce cemetery in Argentina. The tale of Fangio is one that will continue to be told for many generations to come and Formula One fans will never forget Fangio, the racing legend.

Phil Hill

February 9, 2009 by  
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Phil Hill is credited with becoming the first American to become World Champion – yet he was not the flashy, colorful sort of person you would expect such a title to belong to. In fact, Hill wasn’t entirely sure that he really enjoyed racing. An intelligent and sensitive introvert, he openly admitted to having inner demons which plagued him throughout his racing career. Still, despite his mental obstacles, Phil Hill was truly a champion of the sport.

Born in 1927 to a prominent family in California, Philip Toll Hill Junior became an introvert at a very young age. He feared failure and often felt inadequate. He turned to music as an outlet for his problems before becoming absorbed in the world of cars. He received his first car at the tender age of twelve. The Model T Ford was a gift from his aunt and he dismantled it several times before learning to drive it. After dropping out from the University of California, Phil Hill went to work for garage owner who was also an amateur racer. Before long he started racing and in 1951 he was able to purchase a 2.6 litre Ferrari with money he inherited after the death of his parents. Despite his regular wins, Hill was plagued by the dangers of racing – to the extent that he had to stop racing for ten months in order for his stomach to recover from multiple stomach ulcers. When he returned to the track, he was making use of heavy doses of tranquillisers. He always attributed his success to the car.

In 1955 Phil Hill was invited to join Ferrari as an endurance racer. It was a slow start towards his Formula One racing career since Enzo Ferrari hesitated to put him in single-seaters. However he soon started racing Formula One and he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after just two years in the driver’s seat. During his entire career, Hill was strikingly candid about his personal demons and emotional troubles. His introspection resulted in some unflattering comments on his personality but for the first time in his life, he was able to leave his inferiority complex behind. Before a race, Hill was nervous and edgy – but as soon as he was behind the wheel he seemed calm and tranquil. He often drove the best on the worst tracks in the worst weather conditions.

Despite his worries about the dangers of the sport, it was something which he was just too passionate about to stop. Thus, after a short period of inactivity, he simply found he had to race again. Things started well but after the tragic accident at Monza wherein his old team mate Count Wolfgang von Trips was killed in a collision with Jim Clark, his career started on a slow downward spiral. He raced for a number of companies before eventually retiring from Formula One and then from racing altogether. In 1971 he married his girlfriend and settled down to start a family. He thereafter led a quieter and happier life, restoring old cars as part of a rather lucrative business. — Phil Hill died on 28 August 2008.

Jackie Stewart: The Flying Scot – Auto Racing

September 15, 2006 by  
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Sir Jackie Stewart, popularly known as “The Flying Scot“, is one of auto racing’s most distinctive personalities as well as being one of its most successful racing drivers. His unmistakable Scottish accent, high-pitched voice and boundless enthusiasm have made him the model for a host of race broadcasting parodies. In addition to bringing the world of auto racing, especially >Formula One racing, to a wider audience worldwide, Stewart has been a tireless promoter of race safety and driver protection.

Born in 1939 in Scotland in the county of West Dunbartonshire near Glasgow and Loch Lomond, Stewart may be said to have cars in his blood: his father ran a local garage where young Jackie apprenticed as a mechanic and his family were Jaguar dealers. His older brother Jimmy was a promising auto racer who competed in the 1953 British Grand Prix for Ecurie Ecosse (Team Scotland). By 1963, Jackie had been signed by Ken Tyrell to the Cooper racing team, swiftly moving up the ranks until 1965 when he joined BRM’s Formula One team alongside English racer Graham Hill. Stewart won his first race at the Monza circuit in Italy.

Success came quickly for “The Flying Scot”, and by the end of the decade Jackie Stewart had emerged as a force to be reckoned with on the world’s Formula One circuits. Driving his trademark French Blue number 3 Tyrell car, Stewart captured the Formula One Championship title in 1969, 1971 and 1973 when he achieved his record setting 27th victory. With one race to go before reaching the magic number of 100, Jackie Stewart retired from auto racing to become a consultant and commentator. In honor of his many accomplishments both on and off the track, Jackie Stewart was voted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and was knighted by the Queen in 2001.

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