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

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

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th November 2008, 9:57

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

  3. Robert McKay said on 30th November 2008, 12:24

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

  4. 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.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th November 2008, 17:20

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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…)

  8. 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!

  9. 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…

  10. Jimmy said on 11th June 2009, 15:16

    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… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsM-rbNsRFA (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.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HHaY_2SmGc (images from a fan)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkiMyQpfATw (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

  11. 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 :-( )

  12. 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)massmediamarketing.com.

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