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 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 – 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
OK, you got me – 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