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

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.

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

  1. Jonatas said on 9th April 2009, 14:08

    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.

  2. Robert McKay said on 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?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th April 2009, 22:06

      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.

  3. Howard said on 9th April 2009, 14:23

    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)

  4. Mystic Pizza said on 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.

  5. Jess said on 9th April 2009, 18:39

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

  6. AJ Ball said on 9th April 2009, 19:40

    You can’t go wrong with Goodwood. Even if it’s all the way down on the south coast.
    My Indy 500/Milwaukee double last year was fun – the re-unification really seems to have cheered everyone involved up a bit and their were good crowds. Indy is funny in that it’s so big you lose the sense of scale and have to remind yourself that 250,000 people are here!
    Le Mans? Went years ago, maybe they’ve made it a bit more accessible since then but we spent most of out time trudging around trying to find a good spot to watch and wondering whether the TV would’ve been better.

  7. Gman said on 9th April 2009, 19:49

    While it’s one of the most unpopular tracks in the series, and I am not a fan of NASCAR, I plan on catching one of the two Sprint Cup races at Pocono this year- less than 50 miles from home and I’ll have free tickets and hopefully a paddock pass, so it should be an interesting Sunday.

    Due to currently being a student on a budget, I can’t exactly span the globe this season to catch some of those other events. In the future I would very much like to make it to Goodwood, along with the Race of Champions- I would be thrilled to see the rumors come true about the event being held in America for the next few seasons.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th April 2009, 22:10

      Now you’ve sent me that book on Pocono I will try to catch some of the NASCAR events there, want to see what it looks like!

    • Zewspeed said on 10th April 2009, 4:29

      First race I’ll go to this year is the Grand-Am series event in May at Thunderbolt Raceway in south Jersey.

      I went to Pocono in August for the first time last year (I needed a second race alongside the IRL Watkins Glen event to fill out my summer in lieu of F1) and I enjoyed it tremendously. I took the day in as a regular would, eating greasy foods and downing can after can of domestic beer over the five-plus hour running time (there were multiple rain delays). It’s no Indianapolis, but what is?

      Speaking of, the 500 seems to be the only major event I’ll get to this year, and that’s only because my friend lives within a mile of the track (very handy for past F1 weekends). If my work schedule allows it, I’ll make my yearly visit to the Glen, but right now it doesn’t appear to be a likely option.

  8. Wesley said on 9th April 2009, 20:18

    I live an hour and a half from Road Atlanta and usually get to the track a few times a year.I never miss Petit LeMans.The Mitty and the Ferrari challenge are good too but are more a gentleman’s compitition than a professional race.I have some friends that race in the Porche club so,I get to tour behind the scene and take some fast laps around the track(greatest feeling in the world!).As far as watching on television I like the American LeMans series and watch some rally racing.

  9. SoLiD said on 9th April 2009, 21:29

    A big big tip for those who can go..
    The 24 Hours of SPA!

    Great track and great cars.
    Every year it’s one of the nicest events to go!
    It used to be a bit better when Proximus (local vodaphone) had big vip tents :)

    But still great race with nice atmosphere!

  10. beneboy said on 9th April 2009, 21:44

    Any race I can get to at the Belle Vue speedway track:


    Speedway is crazy but it’s a great night out and it’s also quite cheap so if there’s a track near you I’d recommend you give it a go.

    I don’t know if I’m going to make it there this year but the Isle of Man TT is fantastic, it’s good on TV but you’ll never forget it if you see it live. Bikes doing unbelievable speeds on public roads while there’s bbq’s and parties going on around it all over the island.

  11. m0tion said on 10th April 2009, 1:10

    There is only Bathurst!

  12. the Sri lankan said on 10th April 2009, 1:14

    i’ll be goging to hamilton 400 this year

  13. Jay Menon said on 10th April 2009, 1:47

    Not much racing apart from F1 on Asian Pay TV. We get A1 and GP2 Asia, thats about it.

    It would be great if we can get GP2 races live!

    I guess the only other races I would probably watch is Moto GP

  14. Macau GP, as every year, can’t miss that one. knowing few friends who race cars there as well helps to make it great weekend.

    and then you have for example the guys who do the motorbike race there (those are the mad people who also the Isle of Man and that sort of motorbike races) and all the riders gathering in a pub after their race chatting up with fans, buying drinks around and having fun, amazing …

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