Interlagos Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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It was Emerson Fittipaldi’s tremendous championship performance on the international racing circuit in 1973 and ’74 that led to the creation of the Brazilian Grand Prix in the city of Sao Paulo – Fittipaldi’s home town.

With its 5-mile length, the Interlagos Speedway at Sao Paulo is one of the toughest tracks that racers face on the Grand Prix circuit. Sitting in a natural amphitheatre allows spectators a great view of the track from virtually anywhere, but from the vantage point of the driver’s seat, Interlagos is bumpy and irregular. Plus, running the track counter-clockwise and at a high altitude creates added challenges for drivers, as does the unrelenting heat and humidity.

In the early 1980s, Sao Paulo’s city council agreed to a $15m rebuilding program for the Interlagos Speedway, which by this time had fallen into some serious disrepair. It was decided not to retain the old circuit but use sections of it, linked by new sections of road. The new track turned sharply left just after the pits, before diving downhill through an S curve.

Taking a look at the track in modern times — the drivers jet out to the Descida do Sol, which suddenly drops downhill to the left. Then comes “S do Senna” (“Senna’s S”), a series of turns (left, right, then left again) that are considered extremely difficult because each of them has a different angle, a different radius, a different length, a different inclination (inward or outward) and a different shape (besides the terrain goes down and then up again).

“Senna’s S” connects with “Curva do Sol” (“Sun Turn”), a round-shaped large-radius left-turn that leads to “Reta Oposta”, the track’s longest (but not the fastest) straight line. Reta Oposta is succeeded by two leftwise, uphill turns that are called “Subida do Lago” (“Up to the Lake”) and then “Mergulho” (“Dive”), a short straight section that goes down again.

After “Mergulho” comes the slow section, the one most despised by inexperienced drivers for its sheer difficulty, with small, kart-like turns and unpredictable ups-and-downs. These turns are “Ferradura” (“Horseshoe”) rightwise and downhill in two steps; “Pinheirinho” (“Pine Tree”), an S-type section (right, then left) on a plain field; “Bico de Pato” (“Duck’s Beak”), two rightwise turns (one easy, the other very slow and difficult); and then two left turns forming a section called “Juncao” (Junction).

After the slow section begins the long, thrilling and dangerous top-speed section. The first step is “Subida dos Boxes” (“Up to the Pits”), a long, left turn that sometimes seems straight and sometimes bends in more clearly. As the name implies, Subida dos Boxes is uphill (quite steep, indeed) and demands a lot of power from the cars. At the end of it there are two turns (14 and 15) that form what was once called “Cotovelo” (“Elbow”) at this point the track seems inclined inwards (or somewhat crooked).

All in all, the local economy of Sao Paulo has benefited from the upgraded track, and visitors are sure to enjoy the thrills and excitement presented by the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Pocono Raceway

February 9, 2009 by  
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The very name inspires awe amongst Pocono Raceway has hosted such great racing events. Much of the secret NASCAR ingredients at this scenic location must be the deceptive banking. Although inclines on the 3 turns at Pocono never exceed 14 degrees, and one turn has banking of just 6 degrees, the variations in each turn baffle most drivers. Negotiating such varying conditions over the 2.5 mile lap length is a special challenge at Pocono. The distance of the straight allows competitors to jockey for positions, as does the relatively wide track at this key stretch. You can never be sure of the ultimate winner at a Pocono NASCAR event!

NASCAR racing is as much about the human spirit in meeting challenges, as it is about the technical excellence of machines and top driving skills. Pocono is special in this human sense as well, because the race track has faced natural disasters and set-backs, and come up trumps each time. The Mattioli family, which owns the Pocono Raceway, has shown true grit, and abiding commitment to NASCAR racing, by keeping the track operational through tough times, and the splendid results are there for all of us to see now!

The backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains gives the Pocono Raceway a picturesque setting, and the camping facilities are of such a high recreation quality, that you can enjoy a visit here even if auto racing is not a passion. The race track also has a festive air about it. The entire family can have a wonderful time at Pocono, even as die-hard NASCAR followers get their thrills! However, the New York and Pennsylvania NASCAR attractions are sure to lure you away from Pocono sooner than you think, as these two major auto racing centers are so close at hand. Think of NASCAR fans, because the Pocono Raceway as a part of the golden triangle of the NASCAR circuit, and make it a point to vacation here every year! Remember that Pocono hosts events for car and motor cycle clubs, as well as special driving schools, on days without NASCAR events, so you can drop in at any time of the year.

Circuit de Monaco

February 9, 2009 by  
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Circuit de Monaco, opened in 1929, is an outstanding Formula One street circuit. Located in Monte Carlo, the F1 Circuit of Monaco is considered by many to be the grandest in the sport. Well known for its challenging twists, Monaco’s F1 circuit is popular with drivers and spectators alike. Held annually in the month of May, the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix incorporated some of the streets of Monte Carlo and of La Condamine, and the atmosphere among spectators is phenomenal – it is certainly the dream of many F1 fans to attend a race at Circuit de Monaco.

Anthony Noghes of Manegasque car club originally came up with the idea of turning the streets of Monaco into a Formula One circuit. The first race on Monte Carlo’s circuit was held in 1929. William Grover-Williams, racing for Bugatti, gained victory at the inaugural race.

The 2.092 mile or 3.367 km Monaco circuit is known for its tight turns, thus driver skill and ability is of greater importance than the power of the car. Monte Carlo’s roadways are narrow and provide little opportunity for overtaking. A renowned section of the circuit is the tunnel where F1 drivers have to deal with the quick succession of light changes. Certain adjustments have been made to the Monte Carlo F1 track making more space for pit stops. Of course as the Circuit de Monaco is held in the streets it needs to be constructed each year, a process which takes approximately 6 weeks.

Let’s take a look at what the drivers have to deal with when racing at Monte Carlo. The lap begins with a brief drive up to the almost 90 degree St. Devote corner. This is followed by an uphill leading to the Massenet left-hand long turn. Driving through Casino Square the drivers come to the challenging Mirabeau corner and quickly into the Grand Hotel hairpin. Next is the Portier double right-hander which takes the F1 drivers to the tunnel. Just out of the tunnel is a tough left-right chicane. A short straight heads to the Tabac corner. Drivers then accelerate on to the left-right-right-left spot called Piscine. Drivers have a short straight to prepare themselves for a quick left and immediate La Rascasse 180 degree turn. An adversely-cambered straight guides drivers to the Virage Antony Noghes corner, the last of the lap. Drivers make their way down the straight to cross the start-finish line for the next lap.

Although considered by many as a dangerous circuit, Circuit de Monaco is set to remain an important host of Formula One, providing drivers and spectators with breathtaking action.

Sepang International Circuit

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Sepang International Circuit, or as it is also known the Sepang F1 International Circuit, does not only host the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix, but is home to the A1 Grand Prix and the Moto GP Malaysian Grand Prix. Many other motor sport events are also hosted here during the year.

Compared to other Grand Prix venues, the Sepang International Circuit ranks amongst the best, with the facilities and the technology to back that statement. The media resources that the circuit has available and the fantastic pit area, are facilities that the Sepang F1 International Circuit can be proud of. The grandstands and amenities for spectators are also superb, ensuring comfort and a great view of the action.

The designer of this amazing circuit was Hermann Tilke, from Germany, who has designed similar superb facilities in Bahrain, Turkey and Shanghai. The 5.54 kilometer main circuit, is usually raced clockwise, and is known for its wide straits and somewhat sweeping corners. The track was built in a very unusual manner, as only an extremely tight hairpin corner, separates the pit straight and the long back straight.

Configurations of the Sepang International Circuit can be varied for use. It allows the clockwise directed north circuit to be utilized, which is situated on the first half of the Sepang F1 Circuit. After turn number six, the track turns toward the pit straight, and is a total of 2.71 kilometers in length. The opposite side of the race track, forms the south circuit. On this circuit, the long back straight, that is used on the main circuit, then becomes the pit straight. The pit straight for the south circuit runs into the main circuits’ number eight corner, which then forms a hairpin corner. As with all the circuits at the Sepang F1 Circuit, the south circuit is also raced in a clockwise direction, and is a total length of 2.61 kilometers. Due to the versatility of the Sepang International Circuit, it is also able to host motocross and kart racing at the track.

Richmond International Raceway

February 9, 2009 by  
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The now very popular Richmond International Raceway started life as a little track known as ‘Strawberry Hill’. It was first used as a racetrack venue in 1946 when Ted Horn drove his champ car to victory on the 0.5-mile dirt track that came to be known as ‘Strawberry Hill Speedway’. These races were usually held once a year on the third Saturday of April. In the period that followed between 1953 and 2000, the track had three name changes and four configuration changes. The surface was changed from dirt to asphalt and lights were added to the facility in 1991. Ever since then, all races have been held ‘under the lights’ – something which helps make Richmond International Raceway somewhat unique.

Today the Richmond International Raceway is known for hosting some of the best NASCAR and IndyCar Series racing. The raceway features a D-shaped, 0.75 mile (1.2 km) asphalt track and is part of the 800-acre, multi-purpose Richmond Raceway Complex. Although the track is fairly short, it’s layout allows for excellent side-by-side racing and drivers are able to reach speeds similar to that of a superspeedway. This means that only the most skilled drivers can make their way to first place and there is plenty of action during the course of the average race. The Richmond International Raceway currently hosts the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series, the Indy Racing League, the United States Auto Club Silver Crown and National Sprint Car Series. The last 30 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races have been sold out and the track is known for producing some of the best racing in the sport.

In the past, Richmond International Raceway has been known as the ‘Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds’, the ‘Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds’, the ‘Virginia State Fairgrounds’ and the ‘Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway’. From these various names it is easy to tell that the Raceway complex is not only used to host racing events. It is also used to host a number of agricultural shows, expositions, sports and crafts shows and seasonal fairs. This means that the raceway complex is almost always busy with some major event but the most popular of these are the races.

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