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Strange, ridiculous, or amazing parts of race tracks


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#1 Andrew Hope

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 22:05

There's plenty of threads on here and other boards about your favorite circuits, favorite parts of tracks, favorite corners, and all the rest of it. I've never seen, though, a thread anywhere for discussing weird, unusual and spectacular parts of tracks that aren't normal parts of circuits. This is a little vague, so let me explain - I'm talking about anything abnormal in racing circuits, present and past. Things like the rail bridge at Longford, the pit exit at Abu Dhabi (how often do we see pit exits through tunnels), the Karussel at the Nordschleife or the old banked corner at Fuji (bankings on road courses being rare, obviously); in short, anything you would consider notable and uncommon on tracks. Parts of a circuit that make it unique or extremely uncommon. As ever, any kind of track (purpose built, point-to-point, hillclimb, rally, whatever) are all fair game. They don't have to be on-track or intentional, either; they can be curiosities closely off track or other strange things as well. Can be in the paddock, etc. Anything the cars themselves would/could encounter.

I don't have many examples of this, so that's why I started this thread. If anyone's got anything to contribute on the topic, don't be shy, and hopefully there will be some good stories and interesting anecdotes posted in here over the next few days.

Edited by andrew., 05 July 2011 - 17:58.


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#2 Bloggsworth

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 22:23

I recall that Snetterton had a gravel version of a Harrier launch ramp at the end of the original straight - Nearly used it once when I ran out of brakes, but fortunately Buzz Buzaglo was there to slow me down.

#3 D-Type

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 22:42

Porto had tramlines. I think it was the only Championship course where that was the case, but several non-Champoinship venues also did - Pau, Bordeaux etc

Avus was up and down the autobahn with the steeply banked North Curve and the unbanked South Curve

Caracas in Venezuela was fairly similar comprising up and down a dual carriageway with a roundabout about half way down and using the slip roads and intersections at each end to turn around

The original 1948 Silverstone used both runways and cars came down one and did a hairpin onto the other and then did the same half a lap later. They put up a screen so drivers wouldn't see the other cars coming straight at them.

Edited by D-Type, 05 July 2011 - 10:53.


#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 22:55

Not strictly speaking a racing circuit, but you could easily have been convinced on the day...

Woody Point's one-time-only 'High Speed Reliability Trial' had competitors come into a regular cross-road type of intersection and turn left... and three quarters of a lap later they entered the same intersection from the opposite side and turned left again.

The original Parramatta Park circuit had a stretch along by the river where trees encroached on both sides. It was recognised as being a bit narrow, so it was deemed a 'no-passing' zone. There was also a similar stretch on the original Southport road circuit.

#5 GMACKIE

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 22:57

At Bowenfels, near Lithgow, the Main Roads dept. removed what was known as 'the 40 bends' from the Great Western Highway, and straightened out what they regarded as 'a dangerous stretch of road'. This left a 'perfect stretch of road' for a Hillclimb!

When competing at the Hillclimb, road-registered cars were allowed to [at the completion of each run] drive down the Great Western Highway, and back to the start area, in full race trim, numbers and all. :up: I don't think that would happen these days.

Edited by GMACKIE, 04 July 2011 - 23:05.


#6 scheivlak

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 23:06

Porto had tramlines. I think it was the only Championship course where that was the case, but several non-Champoinship venues also did - pau, Bordeaux etc

Reminding me of this one: http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

#7 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 04 July 2011 - 23:51

Longford has a train crossing,,,, and a pub!
And a lot of ex airfield tracks have or had some strange things like bomb shelters, hangars, ammunition huts and parade grounds. The start line at Mallala is on the parade ground!

Edited by Lee Nicolle, 04 July 2011 - 23:52.


#8 RStock

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 01:02

I once paid at a haybarn to get into a track. You pulled up to the gate and a fellow stepped out of the barn to take your money. I always thought that was rather unique.

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 01:22

I don't think any of that stuff is unusual...

Well, the grid being on a parade ground at Mallala is, and also the fact that it's an airfield circuit that doesn't use any of the runways, which were all grass.

#10 E1pix

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 03:47

Not sure this fits here.... but the old Turn 11 at Road Atlanta was unique indeed!!!

After a very long, downhill-ending backstretch.... with a flat-out bend at the bottom at absolute top speed.... and the car begging for more spring travel.... then uphill into the braking zone at nearly 200mph.... turning right and apexing atop the hill, totally blind.... then shooting under a bridge.... and dropping straight downhill while turning with the car being mostly unsprung.... all of this lined with 15 foot clay banks.... well, it was altogether awesome!

#11 David McKinney

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 05:54

The St Étienne circuit at Forêz (or was it the other way around?) went up one side of a dual carriageway and back down the other, with the inevitable fatalities following head-on collisions

In New Zealand the original Dunedin circuit included a stretch of gravel-surfaced road (as did the Southbridge circuit used for a couple of lesser meetings)

#12 2F-001

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 06:13

Well, some things only seem ridiculous in hindsight, I suppose - such as the combined road/banked course at Monza having the two passes of the startline/pits straight divided by a line of cones.

Or the once-normal practice of busy pitlanes along the side of the road separated from the racing lines by a narrow band of paint - although when you see film of early 70s Monaco GPs that is still quite startling (I guess this must have been the last GP venue to permit this, prior to using the reclaimed land in the harbour to move things around a bit).

Speaking of Monaco - wasn't a part of the track once paved with tiles? I can't remember where - possibly on the waterfront or by the gasworks?

Autosport carried a report of a combined F2 - F3 race on an airfield at Neubiberg (sp?) where the finish line was inside the braking distance for a chicane which led to predictable antics at the end of a close race.

The newish circuit in Argentina, Portero de Los Funes, is in an unusual setting if not particularly unusual in layout of features - it appears to run around a lake inside the crater of a (hopefully extinct) volcano.

Edited by 2F-001, 05 July 2011 - 06:15.


#13 Formula Once

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 06:16

Zandvoort had a strange sort of chicane for 1979, made to reduce speeds following Scheivlak. It was dubbed 'Scheckter Street' as Jody had been the main force behind the change. In the end its wasn't even a corner and drivers went through it at full speed (Gilles Villeneuve spinning in it during his duel with Alan Jones) and it was turned into a proper S-bend (known as the Marlboro Bocht) the following year.

And of course there was that chicane at Eau Rouge in 1994...

#14 Cirrus

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 06:37

Barn corner a Cadwell Park had, unsurprisingly, a barn on the outside. During racing the doors were opened so that cars could use it as an escape route into the straw bales contained within.

#15 Tim Murray

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:21

Speaking of Monaco - wasn't a part of the track once paved with tiles? I can't remember where - possibly on the waterfront or by the gasworks?

According to the David Hodges Monaco GP book (published in 1964):

Apart from road resurfacing, the only ‘natural’ change to the actual circuit so far made came in 1932, when the tram tracks and their associated cobbles were lifted.

However, looking through these wonderful old photos, linked to by Beat Schenker in this thread:

http://driverphoto.f...el-gp-de-monaco

the tramlines appear in several photos, but I can't see anything resembling cobbles.

#16 john medley

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:36

When "Sam" Johnson ( A Very Funny Man} was one night describing his adventures in his replica 246 Dino Ferrari at a farm hillclimb in New Zealand where he traversed part of the farmyard thoroughly sideways on slippery cow manure, Bruce Polain( another Very Funny Man) interjected mildly by saying " New Zealand is the only country in the world that has a flag for Cowshit on This Corner"

#17 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:45

The hayshed at Phillip Island off to the left of the climb to Lukey Heights. And yes it is used to store hay.

#18 GMACKIE

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:47

When "Sam" Johnson ( A Very Funny Man} was one night describing his adventures in his replica 246 Dino Ferrari at a farm hillclimb in New Zealand where he traversed part of the farmyard thoroughly sideways on slippery cow manure, Bruce Polain( another Very Funny Man) interjected mildly by saying " New Zealand is the only country in the world that has a flag for Cowshit on This Corner"

But what the probably REALLY needed...... was one for bullshit!


#19 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:50

When "Sam" Johnson ( A Very Funny Man} was one night describing his adventures in his replica 246 Dino Ferrari at a farm hillclimb in New Zealand where he traversed part of the farmyard thoroughly sideways on slippery cow manure, Bruce Polain( another Very Funny Man) interjected mildly by saying " New Zealand is the only country in the world that has a flag for Cowshit on This Corner"

A little off subject but I used to do mudsprints in a cow paddock around a dam. Plenty of cowshit there.

Collingrove Hillclimb has been known to have its share too, until recently it was part of a grazing property, possible still is.The cows have been known to eat the timing cables!!

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#20 Altitude

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:07

The cobbled Nouveau Monde hairpin at Rouen les Essarts. The cobbles lasted until the end of the circuit in the mid 90's. Also the startline 'gantry' at Rouen was a sort of drawbridge like affair that was lifted up once racing had finished to avoid it fouling trucks on the road.

#21 2F-001

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:23

That's a fascinating link to the thread with the Monaco pics, Tim (although my Spanish? is almost non-existent).
Just in the first pic (of Jochen) the single-tier armco looks 'ridiculous' in itself from a modern perspective.

I was actually thinking of 'tiles' (rather than cobbles) - it may have been referenced in a quiz in the back of 'Vintage Motorsport' or similar. But perhaps tiles meant pavers or slabs rather than fired ceramics. And I could, of course, have imagined it anyway!

Edited by 2F-001, 05 July 2011 - 09:23.


#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:27

When Collingrove Hillclimb is mentioned, I cannot fail to recall the method used to tamp down the soil into the post holes of the spectator fence...

Eldred Norman did a lot of them with a Thompson and many rounds of surplus ammunition.

#23 2F-001

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:35

When Collingrove Hillclimb is mentioned, I cannot fail to recall the method used to tamp down the soil into the post holes of the spectator fence...

Eldred Norman did a lot of them with a Thompson and many rounds of surplus ammunition.

I think we have a winner...!

#24 Rob Semmeling

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:46

I was actually thinking of 'tiles' (rather than cobbles) - it may have been referenced in a quiz in the back of 'Vintage Motorsport' or similar. But perhaps tiles meant pavers or slabs rather than fired ceramics. And I could, of course, have imagined it anyway!


I don't think you imagined it, take a look at this picture.

#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:52

Thank you, 2F...

And what a picture that is, Rob! Wet ceramics, skinny hard tyres and power of the kind that was available to those drivers... with all that weight to their rear, too!

#26 GMACKIE

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:58

And swing-axles. :clap:

#27 Allan Lupton

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:05

Barn corner a Cadwell Park had, unsurprisingly, a barn on the outside. During racing the doors were opened so that cars could use it as an escape route into the straw bales contained within.

Yes, I seem to recall there was a statement on the circuit licence to the effect that "Barn doors must be open during racing"

#28 Macca

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:08

That's a fascinating link to the thread with the Monaco pics, Tim (although my Spanish? is almost non-existent).
Just in the first pic (of Jochen) the single-tier armco looks 'ridiculous' in itself from a modern perspective.

I was actually thinking of 'tiles' (rather than cobbles) - it may have been referenced in a quiz in the back of 'Vintage Motorsport' or similar. But perhaps tiles meant pavers or slabs rather than fired ceramics. And I could, of course, have imagined it anyway!


This picture shows that paved area at the entry to Gazometre in 1966.

At Cadwell Park the barn has gone but the Mountain still exists as a 20-yard stretch of track at 30 degrees inclination - see here for the effect.

There was also a level-crossing on the Imatra street circuit used for bike GP's until 1981 - see this picture..

Paul M

Edited by Macca, 05 July 2011 - 10:09.


#29 Duc-Man

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:29

The Champcar race in San Jose 2005 had a railroad crossing.
There are a couple videos on youtube from that. I'm still suprised they raced there. The floorpanels of the cars must have been in bits afterwards.

#30 2F-001

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:37

The San Jose railroad crossing can be seen here



it's bordering on the unbelievable.

#31 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:40

The Champcar race in San Jose 2005 had a railroad crossing.
There are a couple videos on youtube from that. I'm still suprised they raced there. The floorpanels of the cars must have been in bits afterwards.

Good test session for the shocks, they should be ok for Off Roading after that test session!

#32 BRG

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:43

The original pre-war Donington Park ran through gateways and under Starkey's Bridge, didn't it? Another course with a bridge or rather arch was Trois Rivieres in Quebec.

Current silliest feature must be the Macau hairpin with its permanent yellow flags.

The OP mentioned rallying, but rally stages thrive on odd features. Better to think of stages without anything odd!

#33 Paul Parker

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:16

There were tramlines set in cobbles alongside the start at the 1954 Bordeaux GP.

Also has anybody mentioned the 1939 Yugoslav GP held on a tiny (by the standards of the time) 1.73 mile circuit in Belgrade that also featured cobbles and tramlines. Bremgarten of course had stone setts which must have made for an exciting ride in the wet.

#34 mscheeres

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:52

the old Assen TT '25 circuit had parts which were so "quick" (and dusty?) it was forbidden to overtake someone.

The New York stadium (?) track used in the 20s/30s had two pillars in the middle of the track.

Two railroad crossings at the old Imatra track.

The original Wellington street track racing on a 1,5 car width-ish bridge

#35 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:59

I think we've now shown that railway crossings have been plentiful over the years...

That New York race between the pillars was certainly different.

#36 alansart

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 12:37

Yes, I seem to recall there was a statement on the circuit licence to the effect that "Barn doors must be open during racing"


It also should have included moving the farm machinery out as well!


#37 ExFlagMan

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 17:29

I recall that Snetterton had a gravel version of a Harrier launch ramp at the end of the original straight - Nearly used it once when I ran out of brakes, but fortunately Buzz Buzaglo was there to slow me down.

I believe the 'gravel' was a product called something like Lytag - a very light aggregate material. It was pretty effective, as I recall spectating there when a mini lost its brakes and buried itself in the mound, up to A piller. When they dragged it out there was remarkable little damage, probably less that would be caused by hitting another car.

Edited by ExFlagMan, 05 July 2011 - 17:30.


#38 mscheeres

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 18:45

You could say that the current circuits used in the Serbian Touring Car Championship are rather...unique:

#39 BullHead

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 22:52

Avus. All of it. Strange, ridiculous and amazing.

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#40 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 23:06

Not really, not for the twenties...

When you think about it, it wasn't about racing so much then as it was about speed. A whole different public (and government) mindset.

#41 Ise

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 23:28

That Bejing street course A1GP tried a few years ago? Featured a hairpin so tight that it was almost impossible to navigate without having to grind to a halt.

Ive always considered Chengdu as bizzare, since that has the dubious honor of having been built upon a swamp located in an earthquake zone. As if it couldn't be more inconvinient!



#42 Redneb

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 01:04

Le Mans style starts or even worse - push starts for motorcycle GP500 races. Get a bad start with your fussy two stroke off the front row and you're running along while bikes pass at 70, 80, 100mkph.



#43 Catalina Park

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 06:48

Avus. All of it. Strange, ridiculous and amazing.

Avus was not built as a freeway, it was a circuit first and a freeway later.


#44 Allan Lupton

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:22

Avus was not built as a freeway, it was a circuit first and a freeway later.

Actually, when you see that its acronym was short for Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungs-Straße you'll find that racing isn't mentioned and use as a road is.

#45 David McKinney

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:14

...but the inclusion of the word "testing" suggests it might not have been part of a road network

#46 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:22

And this, I feel, underlines what I posted earlier...

It was built in an era when racing or testing were all about achieving speed on long straights.

#47 wenoopy

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 10:56

The AVUS was built as a test and race track and was also a toll road. Cyril Posthumus' "The German Grand Prix" has a photo of the starting lineup for the 1926 GP showing the toll-house in the background, a 2-storied building (labelled "Automobil-Strasse") with 2 archways through it. The building is still there in a post-1937 picture, beside the new high-banked North Curve, and with the traffic lanes clearly going through it. Apparently the AVUS road was incorporated into the Autobahn system around 1939, at which time the South Curve was dismantled.

#48 David Shaw

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:22

The crossings of the horse track at Warwick Farm I think fall into the unusual category. I can't remember exactly, but I think they were composed of wooden planks attached together over the top of the horseracing turf. I'm sure others will have a better idea.

#49 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:33

They had a steel frame with timber fill and tar seal over the top...

There might have been some cloth in there somewhere as well.

According to Geoff, when the AJC talked about the crossings having to be temporary he said, "But at Aintree we had the hotmix track and sand was laid over top of it for the horses."

The AJC responded by saying that the British don't know how to run horse races.

#50 D-Type

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 12:36

The crossings of the horse track at Warwick Farm I think fall into the unusual category. I can't remember exactly, but I think they were composed of wooden planks attached together over the top of the horseracing turf. I'm sure others will have a better idea.

That makes me wonder what they do/did at Aintree. As the roads are permanent it's the horses that need protecting rather than the turf. I think they simply put a cushion of about 6 inches of dirt over the road surface on race days.

Whoops! Posts overlapped. Fortunately for me they don't contradict each other.

Edited by D-Type, 06 July 2011 - 12:39.