Eight non-F1 races I won?t miss in 2009

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

For me, the motor racing season start at Oulton Park with British F3
For me, the motor racing season start at Oulton Park with British F3

F1 is great – but it’s only on 17 times a year!

On other weekends I look elsewhere to get my racing fix – whether I’m in the stands or on the sofa.

Here are the races I’ll make sure to see in 2009 – what are you favourites?

British Formula Three, Oulton Park, April 11th and 13th

This is usually the first race I get to each season, at the Cheshire park circuit not far from my northern homeland.

Oulton Park is one of my favourite tracks: fast, undulating, narrow and challenging. From the inside of cascade you can see the cars plunge down the hill and off towards the Shell hairpin where they disappear out of view, returning a few seconds later as they hurtle towards Knickerbrook.

The British Formula Three and GT championships are a great value double bill, and the Formula Ford support race (where Damon Hill’s son Josh makes his debut this weekend) adds to the fun. After Oulton in April it feels like the season has truly begun.

A1 Grand Prix, Brands Hatch, May 3rd

Say what you like about A1 Grand Prix, it’s a fun series and this is a rare opportunity to see full-blooded single seaters racing on the classic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

Plus, F1 Fanatic contributor Ben Evans will be doing the circuit commentary, so there’s two reasons to go!

Indianapolis 500, May 24th

The start of the 2008 Indianapolis 500
The start of the 2008 Indianapolis 500

The original great American race is not a patch on its former glory, thanks to the suicidal CART/IRL split of the 1990s.

Indy Car, now in its second year post-reunion, may not even manage to fill all 33 spots for the famous race.

But this is still a great race with an almost incomparable history. It always leaves me wondering which F1 drivers could best meet the challenge of covering 500 miles at an average speed of over 220mph?

Le Mans 24 Hours, Circuit la Sarthe, France, June 13-14th

Another of the classic races, though as it’s often clashed with the Canadian Grand Prix I’ve never seen it in person. If I get my act together I might finally make it this year.

Last year’s race was a memorable one, as the Audi R10s kept home favourites Peugeot from finally winning the race they covet the most.

This year Audi are bringing their new R15 out for one of its rare appearances, and Aston Martin are returning to the top class 50 years since their famous victory.

DTM, Norising, Germany, 28th June

I had a strange experience when I first visited Nuremberg in Germany in 1999. Part of a school history outing, we had gone to look at the Nazi parade grounds. But as we stepped off the coach I noticed some unusual marks on the floor ?ǣ grid hatchings.

I didn?t know at the time that the parade grounds had been transformed into a race track, and the gigantic concrete structures built for hero-worshipping Adolf Hitler were now used to give race fans a good view of the action.

And what action: the tight, five-turn street track is punishing and the brutish DTM cars are constantly jostling for position in among the traffic.

I haven?t made it back there for the race yet, but I?ll be glued to Motors TV for this year?s instalment.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, 3rd-5th July

Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed
Lewis Hamilton at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed

OK, you got me ?ǣ it?s not really a race. But there is no event where you’ll find a more diverse collection of racing cars in action.

I first went in 2006, was bitten by the bug, and will be back for my fourth consecutive year this summer. Among the attractions are Jenson Button in the Brawn GP car and Lewis Hamilton demonstrating Ayrton Senna’s 1988 McLaren-Honda MP4/4. Unmissable.

World Touring Car Championship, Brands Hatch, 19th July

To be honest, I can take or leave the WTCC – similar specification cars to the BTCC (see below) but with less exciting racing, more team orders and way too much politics.

But the new Formula Two series is on the support bill, and I definitely want to see how that’s going to turn out.

British Touring Car Championship, Rockingham, 20th September

I try to make it to at least one BTCC race per year, and I have a huge soft spot for the oddball Rockingham track in Corby, Northamptonshire.

OK, so they don’t actually race on the full oval, but the view from the enormous grandstands is excellent, and the racing is always close and exciting.

What non-F1 racing events are the highlights of your calendar? Which tracks do you head out to the most? Have your say in the comments.

More about going to an F1 race

55 comments on “Eight non-F1 races I won?t miss in 2009”

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  1. I went to the Goodwood FoS in 2007 while I was backpacking around Europe. Amazing weekend, it really is a very special event indeed. Anything and anyone you’ve ever wanted to see, it’ll be there. I can’t wait to get back sometime. The sunday was the wetttest day they’ve ever had at a Goodwood too, gave me a proper taste of English summer :p

    I don’t know how much interest it generates overseas, but the v8 Supercar Bathurst 1000 is also worth checking out if you like your touring cars. While most of the names won’t ring any bells (something DTM and BTCC have), the racing will usually be great on one of the greatest circuits in the world.

    1. I’m with you Ben, the Bathhurst is one of those races that should be on this list, in recent years Motors TV have shown it in its entirety, a lot of home -grown talent is invited to take part, awesome!..

  2. Andrew White
    9th April 2009, 11:13

    I’ll be going to the Festival of Speed again this year as it’s only a 30-minute drive from my house :)

    Also, maybe the Race of Champions should get a mention? I’m not sure where it’s being held this year but I will try and make it after not being able to go last year!

  3. I agree with your comments about the A1GP Keith, I’ll be going along to that, I’ve been every year since it started and really enjoyed it each time. Must get my ticket for that actually, it’s only a month away!!!

    Also, I would add the MotoGP at Donington – this year will be the first year I wont be able to go, a inconveniently timed holiday with my parents will be preventing that!! I absolutely love going to that, been on the track for the last few years at the end of the race as all the riders come past, down at the old hairpin – tis brilliant! Gutted I cant go this year with it being the last there as well – wont be the same at Silverstone!!

    Hmm what else, the DTM I shall be going along to that at Brands, mainly because I havent had enough of watching Ralf Schumacher race live yet!!!

    Oooh yes Race of Champions too, I beleive thats not going to be at Wembley this year I think I read somewhere – might make it more tricky to get to, but ill give it a shot!!

    As for watching on TV – I’ll probably catch some of the Indy 500 (really want to go to that sometime, absolutely loved the place when i went for the F1!) and Le Mans (again also on my ‘to do’ list – maybe I will time it in with my 2010 travels!).

    I will watch the entire MotoGP season – but Laguna Seca is a stand out race that I will most def be watching – love the track, and its one of my fave!

    Same goes with the GP2 – chances are I will watch that whole season too, but the Portimao race at the end – looking forward to that one – it is by all accounts a good track!!

  4. Terry Fabulous
    9th April 2009, 12:14

    Can I recommend the Bathurst 1000km over the second weekend of October (I think).
    It is 6 hours of V8s raced over THE best race circuit on the planet (there’s a debate starter eh).

    Agree with you about Indy and A1. In Aus we can watch Le Mans on ONE this year which will be sweet.

    And as Clare msj said, Moto GP is pretty sweet.

  5. Goodwood Festival of Speed but also the Revival. The Revival is definately worth a look. Beautiful old racing cars worth millions being properly raced and often crashed- what’s not to like. Give a go!

    L’ve been to Thruxton a couple of times for F3/GT and BTCC. I also try to see as much LeMans as possible, and a bit of moto GP. It’s great seeing Rossi dominate everyone- he’s like Schumacher but not a t**t and actually likeable.

    Oh, and I’ve also been to the race of champions for the last 2 years, which was quite fun.

    1. Would also like to add that the rally stage at the festival of speed is a particularly good feature. As long as you’re there at the right time you can get close enough to the track to be sprayed with gravel, and they added a jump last year. And it’s on the way to the rally paddocks and the top of the hillclimb, where I believe you can attempt to get autographs, although I’ve never managed to do so.

  6. Keith – any info on how UK residents can watch any / all of these on TV? I’m assuming some will be ITV, some Sky Sports / Euroports / Setanta, and some not broadcast at all.

    Maybe some of you watched them last year and can lend a hand building a list?

    1. British F3 isn’t on live (boo!) but I think there’s highlights on Channel 4 and/or Motors TV. A1GP and Indy Car are both live on Sky, and the A1 races are uninterrupted. DTM is on Motors TV, BTCC is on ITV (mainly the digital-only channels I think) and WTCC is on Eurosport. Not sure where Le Mans is brodacast this year – I think it’s on Eurosport.

  7. HounslowBusGarage
    9th April 2009, 12:42

    Well, DTM at Brands is a must again this year. It’s been great weather for two of the last three years, so we are overdue a seriously wet weekend in Kent this year!
    Le Mans will see me stuck in front of a telly for days at a time with her saying “Wasting your life away!” in a variety of pitches, every couple of hours or so.
    And I’ve also decided that this is the year to go to Cadwell Park. It’s one of the few UK circuits I’ve never been to. Don’t know when I’ll go or what I’ll see, but this ‘kleine Nurburgring’ appeals to me.

  8. The Bathurst 1000 is one of the best touring car races around,

    this should clearly be on the list for non events f1 you must see this year.

    1. Terry Fabulous
      9th April 2009, 23:52

      What a great video!

  9. Any chance of listing where hese races can be seen on TV? I’d love to get into more diciplines of motorsport, having only ever really sporadically caught the BTCC in past seasons on the odd weekend.

  10. I will be watching MotoGP and if I catch some other series on TV I might end up watching them.

    In the UK MotoGP is on the BBC. Last year it was BBC Two and Red button, I assume it will be the same this year.

    Looking at the TV schedules Five seems to have a few motorsport series on in the middle of the night including A1GP, NASCAR, Indycar and Motocross among others


    ITV seems to have BTCC and British Superbikes


  11. Yes, I’d thoroughly recommend the Festival of Speed. Its the only place I know where you can be admiring a car’s interior, and the bloke standing next to you is the owner/driver! If you go car-watching and not celeb-watching there is a lot to see (and hear).
    I have done BTCC in the past, at Silverstone, Donington, Thruxton and Brands, and I think it beats everything else on four wheels for close racing and wall-to-wall racing. I’m not sure why Kieth says its political – argumentative yes, but not political!
    DTM is worth seeing now its at Brands too, you wonder how the cars can stay on the track as they are going so fast – and they have amazing support races too.
    It is worth mentioning all the lowly club and junior racing which takes place all over the country in the Summer – its where our future champions are coming from and usually there is great racing to watch.
    I am hoping eventually to see Le Mans from the trackside, but its just a plan at the moment…

  12. How about the Macau F3 race?

  13. Bathurst 1000 has to be the top of the list. Never miss it, in fact I have been known to cut trips short to make sure I am back in Oz to see it. Must actually get there live one day too ;)

    And TerryFabulous, I was hoping that Channel 1 will bring a lot more motorsport action, maybe Indy or Le Mans as we’ve never gotten coverage of those before. In the words of Monty Burns all I can say is “eeexxxceellent’

    Apart from F1, I’ll be watching every round of V8 Supercars, MotoGP and WRC this year. Might also throw in some ARC, Indy, A1 and NASCAR for good measure, as well as currently trying to talk Mr Pink into attending the WRC in Oz this year, up in Kingsville.

  14. It’s been said before, but… Bathurst. Bathurst, Bathurst, Bathurst – how can that NOT be on your list, Keith??? ;)

    1. It is a great race (and what a circuit!) but I don’t really follow the championship closely enough for it to be worth getting up at a painful hour to watch a very long race – sorry!

  15. I’ll be attending the Toronto Indycar race and watching the other IRL road course events. I’ll also watch the NASCAR road course events…they’re a blast. LeMans, of course.

    1. I didn’t know NASCAR had races with left AND right turns. That must be good to watch, just like Austalian V8 Supercar series (which includes Bathurst) Must get on their website and find out when and where.

  16. I really wish I could attend the Goodwood festival. Too bad you Brits are so darn expensive to visit. =(

    24 hours of Le Mans would also be a treat to go see, but I guess I’d need to camp out, which would a hurdle for an oversea’s traveler.

    I really regret having missed the 12 hours of Sebring, which is held about 2 hours’ drive from here. Next year definitely, but this year was a classic Audi v. Peugeot battle which came down to the wire.

  17. Robert McKay
    9th April 2009, 14:10

    Surprised you’ve not mentioned any GP2 races Keith :-D

    The WTCC at Pau and Macau is always worth a look, particularly for the tracks, which are awesome.

    If Formula Master and/or British F3 are going to Monza again this year that’s worth a look, I think Eurosport will be broadcasting FM again, and I quite like it. I don’t know if Brit F3 has stopped their pilgrimage to Spa either?

    1. I always think of those as being part of the F1 weekend. That said the end of season finale at Algarve is a must-see. Don’t know where it’s going to be broadcast though.

  18. Haven’t made it to Goodwood yet, but you should add the classic lemans (every other year) to your list. You get right up close to some great machinery – & by close I mean within touching distance and see some serious racing right through the night. Watching Capri’s & GT40, D types and lots of other classics all being driven wheel to wheel is spectacular to watch and the results are not important for the enjoyment! (take some earplugs if you value your ears)

  19. Mystic Pizza
    9th April 2009, 14:50

    I’ve been to the Race of Champions for the last two years. Despite freezing to my seat at Wembley for them, I haven’t been to anything else that lasts all day and keeps your interest as high. Well worth the ticket price.

    As I was lucky enough to meet Andy Priaux at ROC and have an engaging little chat, I’m going to the WTCC at Brands for the first time this year. Having attended some BTCC events at Thruxton and Knockhill, the drivers are more accessible and generally friendlier than F1 ones. Poor Jenson at ROC looked like he would have rather be having root canal surgery than signing autographs and meeting the great unwashed but as this was also around the time Honda announced their withdrawal from F1, he may have had other things on his mind!

    That said, Touring Car drivers I’ve been fortunate enough to meet have seemed genuinely embraced “stardom” and seem pleased to look after their fans.

    When in Singapore last year, several people I spoke to (not all Europeans!) mentioned the racing at Macau and on numerous other occasions, I have had the Bathurst recommended too although these may have to remain on the wish list for a bit longer.

  20. I guess I am in luck as I have NASCAR 3 series both IRL Series and F1 131 races between Feb and Nov.

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