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.
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.
Many people have probably never heard of the term ‘Black Sunday‘ before and have no idea what it means. Despite the fact that Black Sunday is already a very large event, it is not one that is generally splashed across racing calendars. If you’re an auto racing fan, then you owe it to yourself to show up and support this great event as part of your growing ‘auto’ education.
At least once a year the men and woman who belong to the United Black Drag Racers Association gather together at a single location to take part in Black Sunday. Auto/drag racing may not be the next black national pastime, but it certainly is a lot more popular than many people think. In fact, the event has grown so much in popularity over the years that the African-American fan base is now large enough to facilitate a truly excellent day of sport, car culture, racing and socializing. Apparently Black Sunday has its roots in a bragging-rights day that was organised amongst black drag racers in the St. Louis area. Well, what might have started out as a really simple, small gathering is now a full-scale auto and motorcycle festival with national appeal. It’s a place where fans of the sport can get together and reignite old friendships, test their skills behind the wheel and compare the performances of their machines against each other. The introducing of a purse has further added to the appeal and drama of the event.
The event is also a great way to learn more about the sport and the United Black Drag Racers Association offers a hands-on show and tell-type of educational display on the day. The idea is to spark the imagination of youngsters and get more of them racing from a younger age so that there are more black drivers out on the racing circuits. Far from being a small, minority event, more than 20 000 people turn out to support the event each year. This year’s Black Sunday will be taking place at Gateway International Racetrack on Oct 17-19. So try something new and support this great annual event. You may be surprised at what you find!