Belgium held its first national race in 1925. It took place at the race circuit in the Spa region, which was an area rich in racing history. The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was constructed in 1921, used primarily for motorcycle racing until 1924, but also hosting Grand Prix racing. In 1923, a very successful 24 Hours of Le Mans was raced in France, which led to the Spa 24 Hours race to be hosted at the Spa track.
The Belgian Grand Prix is a favorite amongst both the fans and the drivers. The Spa-Francorchamps is also famous for it extremely unpredictable weather conditions. For example, it had rained for 20 Belgian Grand Prix’s consecutively. Drivers are constantly confronted with conflicting weather on different parts of the track. One side will be sunny and clear, while the other is slippery, miserable and rainy. To many F1 drivers, the Belgian Grand Prix is the most dreaded circuit on the Formula One racing calendar, due to its challenging conditions.
Antonio Ascari, took first place at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1925, and his son, Alberto, would go on to win in the years 1952 and again in 1953. Antonio Ascari was tragically killed in the French Grand Prix, after winning the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix. While leading the Belgian Grand Prix in 1939, Richard “Dick” Seaman, a British driver, lost his life. Alan Stacey was killed when a bird flew into his face, and Chris Bristow also lost his life in the same race, in 1960.
After deciding Spa was too dangerous in 1972 Belgian officials made the decision to alternate the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix between the Nivelles and Zolder circuits. Unable to sustain the Belgian Grand Prix at the Nivelles circuit, the race track eventually faded out, and Zolder was used in the following years. However, the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix returned to Spa-Francorchamps in 1985, where it has remained. Michael Schumacher made his debut at Spa-Francorchamps in the year of 1991 and returned in 1992 to win his first race in Formula One. He also surpassed the all-time record of Alain Prost, by securing his 52nd Grand Prix win at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Spa-Francorchamps Circuit is completed in 44 laps, with a total race length of 306.94 kilometers. The FIA announced in 2006, that Belgium would not be part of their race schedule for that year, as major work to repair the track, had been started. The Belgian Grand Prix returned to the schedule in 2007 with Kimi Räikkönen taking first place. The year 2008 saw a controversial win by Filipe Massa, after Lewis Hamilton received a drive-through penalty which negated his first place position. Kimi Räikkönen took first place again in 2009.
The sport of motor racing has thrilled thousands ever since it first began. It wasn’t long after the first ‘horseless carriages’ had been invented and improved upon that the idea of pitting the strengths of different designs, and the skills of drivers, against one another in a race was conceived. The first organized racing event was in actual fact a Reliability Trial run which took place between Paris and Rouen in 1894. The winning vehicle had to, not only cross the finish line first, but had to be safe, easy to control and reasonably economical to run. The first over the line was Count de Dion, but his vehicle was deemed impractical and the prizes were awarded to the next two cars instead. The winning average speed was only 17km/h but the event gave birth to a new craze – motor racing.
As designs continued to be improved upon, the new sport saw a continued increase in cylinders and engine size. The addition of the pneumatic tire was impractical at first but soon gained popularity. Chassis design changed radically and new brake and tire designs struggled to keep up. And as soon as one design became the winning standard, other car manufacturers would strive to improve upon these to bring their own names into the lime-light. By the early 1900s car speeds were approaching 100mph and races where held on open roads, where both drivers and spectators where often involved in bad accidents. Eventually in 1906 the very first Grand Prix for manufacturers was held by the French. The race took place on a 64 mile course which was lapped six times a day for two days.
It did not take long for other countries to follow suit. Germany became a popular place for racing and their Mercedes motorcars often dominated the scene. The Alfa of Italy and the Fiat and Peugeot of France rose to the challenge, and soon they claimed supremacy for themselves. Because of the dangers involved in racing on public roads, wealthy enthusiasts soon started building oval racing circuits which became very popular. An attempt was made to counteract the dangers of the sport by increasing the rules and regulations surrounding the event. Eventually a recognized and standardized racing sport emerged and much of these standards are still maintained in the motor racing sporting events of today.
Pakistan has a widely recognized reputation for two things – cricket and hockey. The people of this country are largely poor and signs of this can be seen everywhere – from the rickshaws that clutter the streets to the rustic living conditions that many deal with. Auto racing is certainly something that most Pakistanis have only ever seen on TV. All that may be about to change as fans get ready to enjoy auto racing events in Pakistan.
Lahore played host to a brand new, exciting auto racing event on Sunday when various flashy, privately-owned sports cars were gathered for the first official auto racing event in Pakistan. Not content to sit and watch the excitement only on international TV, various young South Asian men have decided to break free from old sporting traditions and start racing. Auto racing in Pakistan is not a new idea – it has been carried out somewhat illegally for a little while now. Drag racing has always been discouraged by both local communities and the government due to the dangerous nature of the sport. But now it seems that all that is about to change. Persistent pleading from a few of the country’s racing enthusiasts has led to the government rethinking its stance on the sport. They decided to sponsor a day of drag racing and the result was Sunday’s proceedings in Lahore.
Most of the cars are owned by the country’s elite who have already been gathering in Lahore and Karachi for a couple of years in order to showcase their vehicles and race them in un-sponsored events. Now, with the government’s backing, fans of the sport can make the most of auto racing in Pakistan. Even those who are unable to afford a vehicle can finally experience the thrill of watching from the sidelines with the smell of smoke, rubber and fuel thick in the air.
As the Corollas, Datsuns, Nissan R35s and Mazda RX-8s competed for the fastest time, enthusiastic onlookers decked themselves out with name brands like Ferrari, Honda and Corvette. One of the biggest crowd pleasers was a striking, fire-red Corvette C6, owned by Syed Raza Ali Gillani. Almost sixty men tested their vehicles down the quarter-mile track. Each was allowed two runs in their attempt to clock the fastest time and claim the trophy. The event was a massive success and it seems that now that the eyes of government authorities have been opened to the potential this sport has in the country, it might well flourish under their encouragement. Only time will tell.
Fans and drivers gathered together to enjoy a great night of racing at the “Clay by the Bay” this past weekend. Unfortunately all had to wait for the weather for a while, but with approximately 100 cars signed in for the various racing events, no one was about to go home due to a little inclement weather.
Because of the weather problems and the resulting delay, only drivers for the Late Model class got to warm up in the heat races. All the other drivers simply had to suck it up and do their best. By the time the clouds finally parted long enough for racing to get underway at the Gibsonton, Florida, race track it was clear that spectators were in for a great evening’s racing. The South Shore Auto Sales Late Model got off to a great start and pretty soon it was clear that the 21-point lead that front-runner KD Kelly had over Travis Varnadore in the East Bay South Shore Auto Sales Late Model Championship would be greatly increased during the course of the evening. Varnadore ran into some difficulties near the beginning of the Late Models race when an early caution set him back near the back of the field on the restart. In stark contrast, Kelley ran an excellent race with very few difficulties. However, the true star of the night was Roger Crouse who started off in 6th position and quickly and effectively made his way to the front of the field. Crouse managed to win the South Shore Auto Sales Late Model race with an evening of truly fantastic driving. It was his first feature win in the Late Models so far this season and he had plenty to be proud about. He was followed over the finish line by Al Larson, whose second place finish gave him his first top-5 finish of the season, and Trevor Merrel.
Despite only coming in 9th and not being able to take home the Late Model race victory trophy, KD Kelly was able to win the East Bay South Shore Auto Sales Late Model Championship. With two features wins, nine top-5 finishes and fifteen top-10 finishes, his grip on the championship trophy was secure. Varnadore finished the feature race just one place behind him.
McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) and Freescale Semiconductor recently announced the decision to collaborate in their efforts to develop next-generation kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) technology. The technology will serve to enhance performance in motor racing and should be used in the highest levels of the sport from 2010 onward.
The new collaborative initiative works hand in hand with the FIA’s recent commitment to not only reducing development costs, but also to supporting increased fuel efficiency, better energy recovery and enhancing competition. It is hoped that more efficient, smaller and lighter hybrid systems will be developed as a result of the initiative in the long run. According to Steve Wainwright, the sales and marketing and general manager as well as vice-president of Freescale EMEA, the “joint KERS development project with McLaren Electronic Systems is on the cutting edge of automotive technology.” Wainwright further went on to say that “As the leader supplier of automotive semiconductors, Freescale can help MES make a difference in their quest for advanced power train control technology and energy-efficient systems. Formula 1 is one of the most exciting and fastest moving laboratories for automotive technology. We will work hard to help ensure that the technologies developed in concert with MES will rapidly find their way into mainstream cars to the benefit of consumers and our automotive customers eager to receive energy-efficient solutions.”
The KERS system is a hybrid braking system that makes use of the kinetic energy produced during the car braking system by storing that energy and making it available for use in accelerating at a later point. This stored energy is released by means of a ‘boost’ button which allows the driver to choose when he may need an extra burst of power for a short period. So, for example, a competitive driver may hit the boost button when they are trying to overtake or if they are defending their position. It is hoped that such technology will not only be more efficient, but that it will also make Formula 1 racing events even more competitive and exciting. Each member of the collaboration will be bringing their expertise to the table in refining this technology. MES will be using its unmatched experience with regards to electronic control unit development as well as years in the motor racing industry. Freescale will be making use of its microcontroller, motor control and power system design expertise.