7 Motor Racing Events You Must Visit Before You Die
For as long as there have been wheels and engines to power them, there have been people wanting to race them against each other. 100 years ago, the vehicles were basic and unsafe – but brave and intrepid drivers happily put their lives on the line and pushed their bodies and machines to the limit in pursuit of winning. Racing has evolved throughout the years, but some of the most hair-raising competitions still exist. We’ve rounded up the 7 must-see motor racing events around the globe.
Monaco Formula 1 GP
We start with the classic. No other race on the F1 calendar comes close to the glamour, prestige and difficulty of the Monaco Grand Prix. Run since 1929, the race is one of the most celebrated racing events in the world with celebrities and billionaires mooring their mega yachts in the harbour. The “track” is a narrow road course through the wealthy streets of the tax haven, filled with tight turns, undulations and even a tunnel. Needless to say, it’s one of the most challenging and dangerous circuits in Formula 1 for both the drivers and their teams, and for this reason, it’s a thrilling weekend ride for spectators.
24 Hours of Le Mans
Is there any motoring event more famous than 24 Hours of Le Mans? Held annually since 1923 near the small French town of Le Mans, drivers come from everywhere to compete in the world’s oldest and most grueling endurance race. Not only do teams have to balance a car’s speed with its ability to run for a full 24 hours without breaking down, the drivers themselves require superhuman levels of concentration and stamina. Most stay behind the wheel for just over 2 hours before resting and eating while a relief driver temporarily takes over the wheel. Current race regulations require 3 drivers to share each competing vehicle.
One of America’s contributions to this list is the Indianapolis 500 (or ‘Indie 500’). Held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana state. The 33 cars race 200 laps around a 2.5 mile banked oval circuit, for a total distance of exactly 500 miles, in open-wheel race cars equipped with 2.2-litre V6 turbo engines. Alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 is one of the 3 most prestigious motorsports events in the world (known as the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’). Only 17 drivers have ever competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown, and only 1 has ever completed it.
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
It’s impossible not to want to find out more about something known as “The Race to the Clouds.” Sadly, that’s not the official name of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, an annual car and motorcycle climb to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado, USA. The PPIHC has taken place since 1916, making it the second oldest motorsport event in the US. It’s also one of the most challenging. The thinning air as drivers climb towards the 14,115ft summit slows reflexes, sucks muscle strength and robs engines of 30% of its power – meaning both car and driver need to be in tip-top condition in order to compete.
The Daytona 500 is the biggest, richest and most prestigious race on the NASCAR schedule – so big that it’s sometimes referred to as “The Great American Race” or the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing.” All 56 Daytona 500s since the first in 1959 have been held in February, at the 4km Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. Each year’s winning car is displayed for one year at the Daytona 500 Experience museum. Fun fact: the event became the first 500-mile auto race to be televised live flag-to-flag on network television in 1979.
Formally known as the Paris-Dakar rally, The Dakar Rally is one for the adventurous only. It all began in 1977, when Thierry Sabine got lost in the Libyan desert on his motorbike during the Abidjan-Nice Rally. He returned to France enthralled with the landscape he’d experienced, and devised a challenging route that began in Paris and ended in Dakar, Senegal. Since 2009, the rally has been run in South America due to security threats along the original course. Despite its name, the Dakar Rally is an off-road endurance race (properly called a ‘rally raid’) rather than a conventional rally, run by a mix of amateur and pro drivers in off-road vehicles, so anyone can take part!
Isle of Man TT
The cars don’t get to have all the fun. If you’re the two-wheel type, there’s the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) race – a motorcycle racing event held on the Isle of Man that was considered the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world for many years. The race’s 4 action-packed days of motorcycling nostalgia take place over 37.75 miles of public roads – and when we say “action-packed,” what we really mean is “absolutely insane.” There were 242 rider deaths during official practices or races between 1907 and 2009, with the worst year resulting in 6 fatalities at the 1970 TT.