Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Checklist

Over the past few years I've attended a fair few motorsport events. Last year, I saw my first F1 race in Germany, and this year I'll be going to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Belgian grand prix in Spa. Attending big events like this is a must for anyone who is into motosport, and so I've been thinking of writing out a list of events which are a must for petrolheads of all kinds. Most of these are my personal choices, although a few friends and family have suggested events to include. If you're reading this and think of any others that belong on this list, drop me a message on Twitter.

Formula 1

First up, I'll start with my personal favourite: F1. If you follow F1 regularly, you probably understand the ins and outs of the sport. However, there are some things that you simply don't get unless you attend a race in person. When I went to the Nurburgring last year, I was hit by the sound. Yes, you know that F1 is loud, but until you actually go you don't appreciate how loud the cars actually are. Now when I watch F1 on TV, all I can think of is that we're getting an impression of how the cars sound only. If you think back to 2011, there was also the issue of the off-throttle blown diffusers, which caused an odd noise when the drivers lifted off the accelerator. This was one of the most surprising things when I attended the Nurburgring: the noise was nothing like on the television, and was incredibly loud! So, if you like the noise of a car, you have to go to an F1 race.

The second reason why you should attend F1 is for the atmosphere. With many sporting events, you gain a sense of community and motorsport is no different. I often discuss races with other like-minded petrolheads on Twitter for example. When you go to a race, you actually feel the sense of community. At the Nurburgring, we got to chat with the others around us (of course, with friendly banter between me and the Hamilton fans!), and could feel the atmosphere generated by large numbers of people with a common interest and understanding. This is something that I would highly recommend experiencing at least once in a lifetime.

Finally, in attending an F1 race you get to experience the history of the sport. Legendary tracks such as Spa, the Nurburgring and Silverstone allow you to get more of a feel for the sport than you would if you simply watched a race on television. While not all circuits are accessible to all people due to distance and cost, if you plan a trip well I'm sure that most will get to visit an historic race track for a high profile event such as F1. The Nurburgring was an amazing experience, and hopefully Spa will be just as great as well. I can't imagine that watching an F1 car at Eau Rouge is anything less than amazing!

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Le Mans

This weekend sees the annual Le Mans 24 hour race. If you're on Twitter, you'll have noticed how this motorsport event has completely taken over the most talked about topics, giving you a hint of how popular this event is. I've never actually attended Le Mans myself, but it's on my list of things to do in the next couple of years. It seems as though this event is another one with a fantastic atmosphere - and with 24 hours of racing you're sure to get your money's worth!
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Bathurst 1000

The Bathurst 1000 comes in as a suggestion from Brenton Holden (Twitter: @Bjholden1). The event is a 1000 kilometer touring car race taking place in Australia, and regarded as one of the most spectacular motorsport races. The cars themselves are V8 supercars - so again if you like the noise of a car, you should probably put this one on the list! Another epic, which is definitely worth watching if you're lucky enough to be in Australia!

Motorsport Shows

Next up on my list is attending big motorsport shows. I've attended loads of these in the past couple of years, from Top Gear Live to Autosport to the Festival of Speed in a few weeks. At events like these, you get a chance to be up close to the cars, and if you're lucky to the people who drive them. While nothing really compares to watching racing in person, if you're interested in seeing the cars up close then you should attend a motorsport show. 

Top Gear Live was one of the first motorsport shows that I attended. The main focus of this event is supercars, although at the first show there was an awesome classic car display too. There are a lot of stands there where you can buy pretty much anything and everything to do with cars, although if you're buying stuff be prepared for a spending spree! The other feature of Top Gear Live is the show itself. Presented like the BBC series of the same name, you get to watch Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond playing around with cars. Expect lots of fireworks, stunts and general entertainment. 

The Autosport International show is another great one to attend. Dad and I have visited this event in the past two years, and every year there's loads to see. The focus of this show is more motorsportAutosport has its own live show, based on Fifth Gear. In this show, we get to see demos of various race disciplines, as well as the ever popular stunts. Definitely one to attend if you like your racing!

One of the clear greats in motorsport shows is the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I've wanted to attend this one for a few years now, and this year I'm finally getting my chance to go! This event is a whole weekend of action, with a moving motorsport show on Thursday, followed by the chance to see a whole load of racing cars and supercars in action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is one of few events where most F1 teams are in attendance, and you really get a chance to meet drivers from pretty much every discipline of racing. Of course, you can expect to see me blogging about the show when I return - only a week and a half before I will be in attendance!

Live Racing at Local Circuits

Of course, if you're into motorsport you probably don't need me to tell you that you should go and watch live racing at every opportunity. While big events such as F1, Le Mans and so on may be expensive and require long trips, watching club events at circuits close to you is a great way of getting involved. I'm lucky enough to live not too far from Brands Hatch, and so whenever we can we go and watch the racing. Some notable events that I've attended at Brands include the DTM, the BTCC and the Historic Master's Festival. Unlike larger events, attending races at local circuits gives you much better access to the cars. At Brands for example you get to go on pit walks, and the paddock is almost always open. The prices are often lower than for massive events, so this is a fantastic way to get close to the racing! Of course, it's up to you what you consider a local circuit, but it's worth looking around to see what you have on your doorstep.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of motorsport events to attend, but rather it's a selection of events that I consider to be absolute musts. Overall, if you're a fan of motorsport the best thing is to simply get involved in anything that you can. Of course, motorsport is often expensive, but even if you can't compete you can still be involved through spectating or even marshalling at events! As I said earlier, if anyone has any other suggestions of what should be featured on this list feel free to let me know. Also, expect lengthy updates when I check off more items on this list - next stop, Goodwood!