Dear Bernie, please put a race on here: Potrero de los Funes, San Luis, Argentina

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The Potrero de los Funes circuit, San Luis, Argentina
The Potrero de los Funes circuit, San Luis, Argentina

This is the coolest new racing track I’ve seen in a long time – and yes, that includes Singapore.

The FIA GT championship raced on the Circuito Potrero de los Funes in San Luis, Argentina for the first time last weekend. It’s a brand new facility built in an old-fashioned way – following the contours of local roads around a lake. And it looks stunning.

Here’s a map of the track:

Click here to have a closer look at the terrain without the track outline in the way and you can see it follows the lines of the local roads almost entirely.

The Potrero de los Funes track climbs, falls and sweeps through the countryside of San Luis, and mixes tricky blind corners with demanding gradient and unforgiving concrete walls. Oh, and a lake in the middle.

Winding over hills, through lush countryside and past village buildings, it looks like a track F1 might have raced at the in 1950s, or some fantasy creation from Gran Turismo. No wonder the GT crowd fell in love with it. Promoter Stephane Ratel raved about the track:

This circuit will be a landmark in world motorsport. The legendary circuits are usually very fast, very challenging, natural circuits, not designed by computers. Circuits like Le Mans, Spa, Bathurst – and now San Luis will be part of these big circuits of the world.

Here’s a video showing a slow tour of the 6.27km (3.896 mile) circuit before work on it was completed:

The last Argentinian Grand Prix was held at the Buenos Aires circuit in 1998. In the 1950s the Argentinian great Juan Manuel Fangio drove to victory on the same track. (See the original, revised and final versions of the Buenos Aires circuit).

There probably isn’t an economic case for a return to Argentina. The local car market may not be a huge draw for the manufacturers, and San Luis doesn’t look like a Monaco or Singapore-rivalling glamour spot.

But such an gorgeous circuit in a country with a rich motor racing heritage deserves a place on the F1 calendar in my book. I wouldn’t even care if the cars just drove around in single file for two hours…

Update: Some video from the GT race, thanks to El Gordo:

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58 comments on “Dear Bernie, please put a race on here: Potrero de los Funes, San Luis, Argentina”

  1. wow. i love it.

  2. Yes, I watched this on the TV Live. I was just amazed and thought the same thing. F1 there now.
    The best part was seeing how close the fans got to the track fence. They were waving at the drivers right up by the track. Maybe this side of it would get pulled back a bit for F1, but it was just a stunning circuit.

  3. One of the most beautiful circuits i’ve ever seen! It’ll be a good break from all of those new Tilkdromes. Bernie, PLEASE bring F1 there!

  4. It looks stunning, and would make fantastic TV. Only there is no money in it, limited facilities, limited spectator areas…

    20 years ago it would have happened. But Max and Ernie are now to bothered messing around with minor technical details of the sport rather than face the pressing issue of tracks vanishing off the calendar, or sponsors disappearing.

  5. Chalky – any links to video of the race?

  6. Your heading should read – Herman Tilke – please build this track in a country Bernie wants to race in….!!

  7. There are tears in my eyes, what a beautiful track. I’m gonna have to start watching GT racing instead of F1.

  8. Smooth corners! No artificial twisty bits! No kilometre long straight followed by switchback hairpin! Lots of gradient! Great scenery!

    We need to get some single seaters round there. Unfortunately F1 will never go for it. But maybe A1GP will :-D

  9. spectacular scenery but one wonders how much discount Bernie would have to give to get it on the calendar – by which time he would have to deal with the politics of Montreal, Silverstone and Shanghai – realistically, even if he wanted its unlikely he’d get past the rest of the wolves in F1. Looks short of spectator areas too. And what about infrastructure – would guys have to go through the accommodation nightmare of Magny Cours? And is there enough private helicopter parking space? :))

  10. Charisma, soul, spectacular scenery, a stunning super-fast layout, a track F1 fans actually want on the calendar… thats just not F1 material!

    Ah well. We can dream.

  11. WOOOOOWWW! Would love to see F1 there!!!

  12. Why can’t Herman Tilke bother to build a proper circuit like this if he’s supposedly so good? I’d have thought the same old formulaic tracks wouldn’t be doing much for his portfolio as an architect.

  13. I love undulating tracks like these!
    (I was going to say that knowing how Bernie operates the only hope of seeing this track on the calendar is the return of the military junta. But that is in such bad taste that I wont.)

  14. haha that is in very bad taste but it’s probably true.

    That track looks absolutely stunning, it’s a shame we won’t have any chance of seeing F1 cars on it until Bernie kicks the bucket.

  15. I’m really stunned… I’d never thought PoTRero -Spanish for a fenced enclosure for horses- (not PoRTero -Spanish for doorman-) de los Funes could be an F1 track, perhaps because it’s the place I’ve spent most of my childhood holidays, camping just aside the lake shores. I’ve walked, rode my bike and drove the actual “track” dozens of times… I can just utter a giant WOW here; it’s only a 3 hours drive from home! I couldn’t attend the GT race because of my work, admission fees were not too expensive: between approx. U$S 15 (the cheapest) and U$S 75 (paddock access) for the three day’s event. Porsches, Maseratis, Lamborghinis…

  16. What a circuit!
    I would rather Bahrain, Shanghai, Sepang, Fuji,The new Hockenheim, Turkey and dare I say it Abu Dhabi were replaced with JUST THAT ONE TRACK.
    Are you listening Bernie?
    Put it on the calendar NOW!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Some time ago they (the San Luis province) announced that they were ‘re-activating’ the circuit after years of not using it, to have a race of TC2000 (the equivalent of BTCC in Argentina) and probably, bring FIA GT. I just forgot the news with the idea of ‘another track for TC2000’… Last Sunday I turned on TV to see the race and got stunned by the circuit. It wasn’t just ‘another’ circuit, was spectacular! And yes, the first thing that crossed my mind was: ‘the surface, the wide track, they made it F1-ready!’. We can only dream, but a few years ago the same province was trying to bring F1 back to Argentina (but without a circuit to show)

    Please, let me dream…

  18. Beautiful!…what a track!It would be too good to come true,a great track and scenery and in a place steeped in motor racing history.In case you guys haven’t noticed,Bernie hates all these things.

  19. Wow… just wow. It is too bad that we will never, ever see it on the F1 calander.

    Should we put out a tip jar and see if we can put the $40 million together for a race?

  20. Qazuhb – thanks for that, changed it now.

  21. It looks very very good!!!

  22. All – remember they call it F1 Circus for nothing. Racing days are long gone. Bernie can bring the circus to your kid’s birthday party or your friends bachelor party provided you show him the monies.

    Unless the local organizers are ready to put up with pains Berniewill inflict, this is not going to happen.

    Remember he even had nerves to take SPA off the F1 Calendar, and resumed the event only after Organizers complied to his whims.

    About the circuit
    – really looks fascinating, Keith thanks for sharing !!!

  23. Great! I will try to find the track on the rFactor addons, if there is any, it should work beautifully with the F1 ’79 cars!

  24. Damn, what a circuit! Very reminiscent of the old-school GP circuits. It’s nice and wide too. But unfortunately, under the current F1 management, we’ll likely never see F1 racing there. :(

    It would definitely be cool if A1 raced there, and I’m betting that eventually they will, as any race at this circuit has the potential to become a classic. So if any A1 promoters happen to read this post, know that if you race at this circuit, you will have a new fan. :D

  25. Wow, that looks cool. A bit too long for F1 maybe.

  26. Chalky – any links to video of the race?

    El Gordo’s links seem to be the best via Youtube.
    I watched it on MotorsTV and they do not have anything on their video archive. Seems like the FIA hit GT as well as F1 when it comes to fans and media downloads.

  27. Yes, Bernie, please bring the F1 to Argentina again.
    We have a lot of fans here.

    Great Blog!

  28. Apparently the FIA classification for this track is ‘B’, which allows anything but F1 to race there.

    I don’t know how true it is, but that track looks lush! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Now that is one awesome track. It certainly is up there with the best in the world like Spa & Bathurst.

  30. Reminds me of Spa, my fave F1 track bar none.
    It’s a real shame that F1 (under current management) will not race there.


  31. Two things I’ve written about this year that have had practically entirely positive reactions:

    1. Martin Brundle joining the BBC
    2. Potrero de los Funes

    Can anyone think of any others?

  32. I think all this talk is rather futile. Yes, it’s a stunning circuit but that doesn’t really mean much, does it ?
    As far as Bernie is concerned F1 could be racing around a dollar bill. And we would still hear the same old talk about great facilities and “two or three” places which “encourage overtaking”.
    Yeah, if you’re riding bicycles.

  33. Fantastic circuit- this is the type of venue that we need more of on the schedule. Of course, all of Bernie’s VIP demands (helicopter access, paddock glamour, assorted other nonsense) will probably overshadow the great potential of this place. And we haven’t even gotten into the fees demanded by FOM and who would pay them……..

    The one point that I really love to see all of you making is that Argentina is a nation that has a rich and prestigious history of motor racing. Indeed there is a good bit of Agrentine history in the F1 ranks, and surely having a GP at this facility would sell out- if you could fit 200,000 in there, it would still sell out. These are the kind of markets that FOM should be looking to expand into and gain strenght in. If Bernie ever wakes up to reality, he’s going to realise that the companies involved in F1 are going to make a hell of alot more money racing in Agrentina/Mexico/Canada/USA then all of his Tilke-created dreamlands.

    That’s not to say that the new nations on the schedule don’t deserve an F1 race, but money should not be the deciding factor in awarding a race while countries with enthusiastic fanbases are shut out of the calendar for decades, as is the case with Argentina.

  34. Someone earlier mentioned Bathurst but you can almost throw an anticlockwise blanket over the layout. Maybe not quite so much rise and fall in Argentina. Good luck to them, well at least the not so arrogant and fiscally reckless among them.

  35. HounslowBusGarage
    27th November 2008, 8:54

    This looks like a terrific track set in spectacular scenery.
    I was trying to spot where the start/finish was from the You Tube videos and the map, but I couldn’t work it out. Any ideas, anyone?
    It’s still public roads isn’t it? I wonder how much indentation truck wheels will make into the road surface over the next year; might not be so smooth and even a surface in 2009.
    It couldn’t possibly be used for F1 though; it’s more remote than Magny-Cours!

  36. HounslowBusGarage,
    if I’m not mistaken the start/finish line is in the straight to the west of the lake. Look in this image for the ‘Paddock’ section.

  37. Of course, after saying that I realized that the
    link given by Loki gives you a better view of the facilities, including the start/finish line (at the end of the straight I mentioned).

  38. Wow, that looks cool. A bit too long for F1 maybe.

    I don’t think the length (6.27km) would be a problem. It is longer than any Tilke-drome, which average around 5.5km, but it’s still shorter than Spa (7.0km, according to Wikipedia).

  39. This looks to be an amazing circuit and it would be great to get F1 back to Argentina too, there’s far too few American races.

    As everyone has said, it’s a shame we’ll probably never see an F1 race there.

    Dan Brunell

    Should we put out a tip jar and see if we can put the $40 million together for a race?

    That’d be one hell of a tips jar mate, it’s worth a try though :~)

  40. It would be beautiful…

    Now we just have to find a way to make it economic…

    I know… we just all have to agree to go there if they have a race…

    I’ll go…. how about everyone else?…

  41. I can’t see F1 there, but the idea of a 24 hour lemans series race on that fantastic venue makes me drool….

  42. Lady Snowcat: I’ll have to travel some 1000km to the North, but OK, I’ll do it ;-)

    Gman: You’re completely right, it would be a Sao Paulo-level crowd. A small fact: the WRC numbers are on the order of 1 million spectators for the whole weekend…

  43. Lady Snowcat – count me in as well.

    And heres $5 for the whipround Dan Brunell ;)

  44. Basically what we are saying is: bring back old circuits such as nordschleife, old hockenheim and preserve old-skool circuits as Spa. And get rid of the none good looking Tilke tracks as Bahrain/abu dabi/Valencia.

    to me, the first picture looks like a sunny day at the nordschleife


  45. There are only two reasons why a great track like this won’t see an F1 race: Bernie Eccelstone and Hugo Chavez.

  46. GeorgeK – Perhaps I’m being thick, why would the President of Venezuela get a say?

  47. Sky Sports Xtra showing highlights of the FIA GT at San Luis RIGHT NOW :-D

  48. My take is that Hugo as an unrepentant Castroite Marxist would make a lousy partner in any business venture involving multimillion dollar risks. With Hugo nationalization of any venture is always in play if it suits his political agenda. And I’d dare say he’s more fickle than Bernie himself!

    I think any investors would be loathe to take on that gamble; having said that people have obviously already invested in the current track we see.

    The track also does not fit the current urban profile that Bernie sees as the next great cash cow for the sport.

  49. GeorgeK – OK, but does Chavez have that kind of say about what goes on in Argentina?

  50. My point is investors may be reluctant to risk funding in the nutjobs country.

    Hugo has become a dictator for life and will remain in power as long as he keeps gas prices subsidized at $0.25/gallon and can keep finding wealth to attack to satisfy his left wing power base.

    And my apologies for introducing politics on your site.

  51. GeorgeK: Before ‘introducing politics’, please check what are you saying so you don’t end up looking really bad (for not saying something else not appropriate to this site…). For example you could check in a good encyclopedia and see that Hugo Chavez is the President of VENEZUELA, and then look into a map and check that VENEZUELA and ARGENTINA are two different countries, separated by several thousand of kilometers (actually there are 13 different countries in South-America, did you know?)

    And before trying to give ‘lessons’ of politics to the inhabitants of others places in the world, you should check first your own country…

    (sorry Keith, but I really get upset with people that speak non-senses about places and situations of which they don’t know about, trying to give lessons to us, ‘poor guys’ from the South of the world…)

  52. guille2306: Are you from Venezuela or Argentina?

    Considering the magnitude of my error your comments are remarkably restrained and welcome. I can only attribute my error to long days short nights and a certitude in my wrong assumption of who leads what country. I will definitely put my brain in gear before engaging my keyboard in the future!

  53. GeorgeK: Argentina… From your answer it seems that you are not the kind of people that really upsets me and you just made a mistake, which makes me feel a little bit embarrassed with the harsh answer… (believe me, some people would have argued saying something like “Chavez rules all South-America through some kind of underground government, I’ll tell you the truth about it…”). But yes, in the future, try to double check your info…

    Let’s now go back to the F1…

  54. I know that this must sound ludicrous to most Argentinians and F1 fans alike, but has anybody considereded “PUNTA DEL ESTE” in Uruguay???

    It’s by far one of the most glamorous and prestigious beach resort in South America. Ideal for tourists that can afford the cost of a G.P. weekend.

    Many Argentinians have been quoted saying…

    “If you’re poor, you go to Miami or Mar del Plata, but if you can afford it… you go to Punta del Este”

    No offence to my neighbours, but Punta is in another category and if you have visited it before I’m sure you’d all agree.

    I’m sure most TC2000 fans know what I’m talking about.

    Take a peek… (last years race)

    Norberto Fontana used to race for Sauber with Johnny Herbert back in 97′ & the champ of this category, Jose Maria “Pechito” Lopez tested for Renault F1 last year. However they’ve preffered Piquet instead. (images from a fan) (onboard)

    Let me know what you think…

    Do you think us “Rioplatenses” (Argentina & Uruguay) can work together?

    What would Sergio Massa think? I’m sure the Conrad would like to add to it’s Pokerstars tournament…

    Cheers – Saludos

  55. I’m sure most TC2000 fans know what I’m talking about.

    I saw just flashes of the race, but it didn’t seemed to me very ‘pass-friendly’ as a circuit. Besides, sand in the track was a major problem, much like dust in Valencia…

    Jose Maria “Pechito” Lopez tested for Renault F1 last year. However they’ve preffered Piquet instead.

    Given the way Pechito is wining in three categories at the same time, and Piquet (lack of) form in F1, they must be wondering what they have done… (actually not, money kills talent for some people :-( )

  56. I’m from the USA and bought a house about 8 km from the track about a year prior to the FIA GT grand opener in 2008. I don’t know much about F1, but I can say that this part of Argentina is so beautiful, it puts tears in your eyes! Driving the track is really spectacular. There is no heavy traffic, as apart from local tourism, this region is very residential and off-the-beaten-road. If anyone is in the area and could use an experienced guide of San Luis and/or the wine country of Mendoza, let me know at max(AT)

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