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Toughest road circuits


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#51 ex Rhodie racer

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 21:14

Originally posted by Rob Semmeling
Firstly, many circuits on this thread are road circuits in the American sense, but not the British.

Secondly, since you mentioned road circuits in Belgium and the Netherlands...

The new version of my website www.wegcircuits.nl will be online next Monday, 1 December. It lists over 150 places in both countries that once upon a time had a road course.

Rob, please can you explain what the American´s regard as road circuits? I´ve always understood them to be (in Europe anyhow) circuits that utilised public roads, which were closed off for the duration of the meeting.
I will be looking forward to reading your website. :up:

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#52 cpbell

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 21:56

That circuit around the volcano looks incredible! :eek: :cool: :up:

#53 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 22:27

To me road circuits are circuits were road racing/circuit racing happens. Which includes street circuits of course.
These days a lot of them are streets transformed into race circuits,
All the famous ones are, Bathurst is a race circuit that happens to be used as a public road these days, Monaco the same. Even the Albert Pk AGP circuit is and Surfers to a lesser extent. The Adelaide Parklands is part street part race circuit.
In the old days they were pure roads, closed for the duration of the event with proper cambered roads, street kerbing, huge bumps, broken edges the lot which ofcourse no modern racetrack of any description could ever get away with. Like Lobethal which has recently had an reenactment and has its own thread on here. A street circuit these days is a collection of public roads and then spend millions transforming it into a race track generally at taxpayer expense, and they are still generally unacceptably dangerous!!
Lets try some of the airport tracks which are/ were generally safer for runoff and safety but generally are fairly bumpy still. The English have lots, some which these days are purely racetracks, the Americans have a couple, the Indycars used to run at one until recently, we have still Mallala which though really a pure racetrack these days started off as WW2 airforce facility and a lot of the original buildings and facilities still exist.
And if you wish a very hard circuit on brakes Mallala is probably the toughest in Australia.

#54 TheStranger

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 22:47

Originally posted by ex Rhodie racer

Rob, please can you explain what the American´s regard as road circuits? I´ve always understood them to be (in Europe anyhow) circuits that utilised public roads, which were closed off for the duration of the meeting.
I will be looking forward to reading your website. :up:


As an American, I think I could answer the question too: "road course" means any circuit that is not an oval and uses various left and right turns on its layout, even if it is a completely purpose-built venue like Riverside was or Road Atlanta is. (Elkhart Lake and Watkins Glen each started off with the classic, public-road circuit, only to get purpose built tracks later on.)

In that vein, I'm not sure if "street course" (i.e. Long Beach) or an aiport circuit (Sebring, Cleveland) would then be a subtype of the term "road course" really. I don't think the US has had any active long-form public-road courses of the classic European variety (Le Mans, Spa) since the Elkhart Lake/Watkins Glen courses stopped being used in favor of their permanent brethren.

#55 Angus Lamont

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:52

I'm surprised that Macau doesn't get more attention. No errors allowed there (especially in the pre-armco days)!

#56 stevewf1

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 02:12

Originally posted by Winegod
Anyone heard of the Virgina International Raceway? I just saw a bike race there on Fox Sports West. It looks like a really sweet, twisty track.


http://www.silhouet....tracks/vir.html

Never been there in person, but I saw some kind of sports car race there on SPEED a couple of years ago. They used the long circuit and it looked fantastic. Fun to watch on TV. Lots of undulations and twists without looking too slow and tight...

#57 brooster51

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 06:20

What about Garda in the lakes region of Northern Italy. I remember an interview of Jonathon Williams where I think he said that winning the F3 race there in 66(?) was one of the highlights of his career. I vacationed there a while back and while I don't know if I was on the right roads, I found the speed limit in a Fiat a challenge. Bringing Garda up also makes me think of Caserta and the old Mugello (a mini-MM). All 'road' courses in the literal sense.

#58 bschenker

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 07:06

You can find info on the site from Guido de Carli (also english)

Circuit

Go to Italy and Garda (Salo)

You can find also the others.

#59 Quixotic

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 07:08

How about Mount Panorama Bathurst.........

A real road circuit.

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#60 Spaceframe

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 11:37

The old Mugello circuit must have been something special - about the same length as the Piccolo Madonie , and passing through the beautiful landscape of Northern Tuscany.

It went out of use around 1970, to be replaced by the present purpose-built Mugello circuit. Most likely the roads still are available for a lap, if anyone should happen to be in the area.

#61 fines

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 16:23

Originally posted by ex Rhodie racer
Firstly, I would like to clarify something. Strictly speaking, the original Nürburgring wasn´t a road circuit per se. It was a purpose built facility, and as such, didn´t comprise of any public roads, as far as I know. Certainly the Nordschleifer was a pure race track without any public roads included.

While you're right in principle, i.e. the Nürburgring was purposely built as a racing track, technically you're wrong, because to this day, all of the Nordschleife is "officially" a public road, and has always been! I'm not sure of the particulars, but I used to be amazed at the sight of road signs along the track (you can see them in a lot of racing photographs, old and new), until it was explained to me.;)

#62 cpbell

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 21:23

Originally posted by fines

While you're right in principle, i.e. the Nürburgring was purposely built as a racing track, technically you're wrong, because to this day, all of the Nordschleife is "officially" a public road, and has always been! I'm not sure of the particulars, but I used to be amazed at the sight of road signs along the track (you can see them in a lot of racing photographs, old and new), until it was explained to me.;)


I'd always wondered why there were road signs there - I'd never heard that it was officially classed as a public road, so I wondered if they were there to give it a "closed-road ambience" or some other obscure reason! :lol:

#63 Nick-Beach

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 19:45

Here's what I know about that infamous Shelby quote about VIR and Watkins Glen:
1) The new VIR owners certainly didn't make it up in 2000 - I first came across it on a 1971 brochure for Richard Hudgins' VIR School of Motor Racing - http://www.virhistor...hool/school.htm
2) When I asked, Richard told me the following in 2001 -
"That quote came from an autographed picture of Shelby that Paul Rembold had in his office at the airport. That was the inscription on the photo with CS signature. Also, I do not remember a date on the photo, but it certainly could of been done anytime up to 1969 as that is when Paul Rembold showed me this photo and recommended that the quote be used in the brochure."
3) Paul Rembold was the track owner/operator/promoter from 1960-74. His son remembers the photo and thinks his father may have gotten it from Shelby at some race at Watkins Glen in the 1960's. It certainly sounds to me like something Paul Rembold the promoter would ask Shelby to write on a photo. The photo was evidently discarded along with lots of other VIR memorabilia in the 1980's. Sigh.
4) Did Shelby actually write or say that phrase? - I'd say the evidence is in favor. *Would* Shelby say such a thing even though he hadn't raced at Watkins Glen and only raced once at VIR (in 1957)? Someone else will have to answer that one.
5) Me - I've raced at both VIR and Watkins Glen and love 'em both for similar reasons - fun twisty bits and elevation changes.
6) I don't have anything official to do with the new VIR or their use of any slogans - I'm just an unofficial amateur track historian who's tried to collect and post as much info about VIR's early days as possible.

Cheers,
Nick England
www.virhistory.com




The Nick England site that FEV refers to is worth looking at for no other reason than it repeats a self serving piece of garbage that VIR has been publishing since it reopened. It's really quite a joke.

Please understand that I like VIR very much. I raced there last September and liked just about everything about it. It is a very challenging circuit - set in drop dead beautiful Virginia country side right on the North Carolina border. The facilities are first rate and getting better all the time. They are really doing everything right as far I can tell.

So why would a facility with everything in the world going for it continue to tout a supposed quote from Carroll Shelby who is alleged to have said in 1957 "one lap here is like 100 at Watkins Glen" ?

And here's the joke. In 1957 Carroll Shelby had never been to Watkins Glen. Better still he never did race at Watkins Glen - ever in his career!

Call it a rant if you wish - say it struck a nerve - all true perhaps. But I just really object to people making things up out of whole cloth.



#64 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 22:37

While you're right in principle, i.e. the Nürburgring was purposely built as a racing track, technically you're wrong, because to this day, all of the Nordschleife is "officially" a public road, and has always been! I'm not sure of the particulars, but I used to be amazed at the sight of road signs along the track (you can see them in a lot of racing photographs, old and new), until it was explained to me.;)

The Nurburgring is a public road built into a race circuit. That still doubles as a public road. I thought that was very well known. I am not sure of the closures as it is used extensivly for people 'to have a go' as we have all seen on You tube. And they race their on occasion too.
People I know have played tourist around there when open as a road.
Bathurst is the same, racetrack about 10 days a year, tourist drive the other 355

#65 D-Type

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 23:36

Can somebody please clarify the status of the Nurburgring? Is it really classified as a public road? Or is that just a legal trick for insurance purposes?
I know it was purpose-built as a racing and test circuit. I know that provided they book in advance virtually any tourist can pay the 33 Euros and do a lap in his own car or pay 300 Euros to be driven round in an Aston Martin with various options in between. I don't think it's possible to just turn up and pay any more. But I suppose technically it is a toll road.

#66 Paul Hamilton

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 00:06

The Nurburgring is a public road built into a race circuit. That still doubles as a public road. I thought that was very well known. I am not sure of the closures as it is used extensivly for people 'to have a go' as we have all seen on You tube. And they race their on occasion too.
People I know have played tourist around there when open as a road.
Bathurst is the same, racetrack about 10 days a year, tourist drive the other 355



The level of public access to the Nurburgring and Bathurst is in no way comparable..

Bathurst remains a public road in the sense in that it is open to traffic in both directions at all times of day and is the normal means of access for many property owners and anyone visiting the parklands at the top of the mountain. In stark contrast, access to the Nurburgring is one directional and restricted to those who, within strictly limited hours, are prepared pay for the privilege and, while not subject to speed restrictions, are expected to comply with the normal rules relating to behavior on race circuits.

The Nurburgring provides a much greater challenge than Bathurst ever could but it demeans both to attempt comparison. The ring is several multiples longer but It simply does not go anywhere but around the mountains whereas Bathurst has always been and remains a public access facility.

#67 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 00:50

Originally posted by D-Type
.....But I suppose technically it is a toll road.


Not really...

A toll road is a road on which you are charged a toll for it to take you somewhere. Even if that's just to a lookout (as at Pikes Peak?) or through some scenic area.

The sole purpose of the Nurburgring's 'toll' is to allow people to try the racing circuit.

As Paul points out, Bathurst's Mt Panorama Scenic Drive has always been freely available to traffic except when it's closed for races or hillclimbs. It requires, I gather, an Act of NSW Parliament to increase the number of days it's closed to the public. Even then, it's was always the case that it was only closed during the hours of competition (with an allowance for setting up), though today it tends to be closed on a full-time basis with periodic access for residents only.

In John Medley's book it explains that though the original proposals to join the two ends of the straights which provided access to the farms on the lower ground by building the scenic drive over Bald Hills would seem to have been benign, right from the beginning can be seen 'sporting interest' in the road.

Like the Nurburgring, the use of 'relief labour' was a part of the construction. Poor economic circumstances of the times in both countries meant that projects such as these employed people who had no other work.

But at Bathurst there was an already-existing interest in racing motorcycles on public roads (the Vale circuit on the Perthville road) and people in authority who took an insterest in motor sport. Moreover, people in the Light Car Club of Australia were making overtures to the Council suggesting that they could run motor racing on the 'circuit' when it was completed.

The planned course of the scenic drive, therefore, took shape with a view to meeting some of the requirements of the racing fraternity. The Council were keen to go down this path because the expected influx of spectators (and racers) a couple of times a year would also be good for the Bathurst economy.

I think that's also true of the region in which the Nurburgring was built...

#68 timbo

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 00:59

The right handers after the "home" straight were a test of "balls over brains!"


Or as someone once said, Its more "Testicle" than "Technical". :)

#69 Tim Murray

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 07:55

According to the Wiki entry on the Nürburgring, the old track is classed as a one-way public toll road:

The Nordschleife has remained a public one-way toll road for nearly 80 years except when it is closed off for testing purposes, training lessons, or racing events. Since its opening in 1927, the track has been used by the public for the so-called "Touristenfahrten," i.e. anyone with a road-legal car or motorcycle, as well as tour buses, motor homes, or cars with trailers. It is opened mainly on Sundays, but also many Saturdays and weekday evenings. The track may be closed for weeks during the winter months, depending on weather conditions and maintenance work.

German road law applies during Touristenfahrten sessions. There is no general speed limit, although speed limits exist in certain areas in order to reduce noise and risks. Passing on the right is prohibited, and the police prosecute poor driving with the aid of helicopters.

(etc)

The 'Ring, although for all intents and purposes a race track when used for racing, still remains a public road when opened to the public and is policed as such. Anyone caught or reported as driving dangerously can be fined or banned by the authorities.



#70 DampMongoose

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 10:52

Clermond-Ferrand? Drivers wearing open face helmets because they're worried about motion sickness, must make it tougher than some?

Rouen? Six Freres before the change and the quick right hander through the woods must have taken some brass lap after lap?

#71 jjordan

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 14:18

Mongoose, having barfed in my new Bell Star at Road Atlanta back in "my day" I support the open face helmet concept. Ran some really great circuits: Riverside, the old VIR, although anything with elevation changes fascinated this kid from Kansas. The toughest road circuit I ever raced was Lake Garnett. Go back and look at it now (my son races go-karts there twice a year) and the narrowness, trees and stone dam scare me.

#72 LittleChris

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 21:43

Mongoose, having barfed in my new Bell Star at Road Atlanta back in "my day" I support the open face helmet concept. Ran some really great circuits: Riverside, the old VIR, although anything with elevation changes fascinated this kid from Kansas. The toughest road circuit I ever raced was Lake Garnett. Go back and look at it now (my son races go-karts there twice a year) and the narrowness, trees and stone dam scare me.



Think I posted an In Kart video on the You Tube thread a whiler back. Certainly a quick place for Karts but sadly flat as a witches t!t.....

#73 ralt12

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:28

In the context of the most thrilling sequence of turns, I have to hand it to Michael, as Bridgehampton was a fantastic circuit to race on. The first turn approach looks like this (today):
No big deal, just a blind corner at the end of a very fast straight... (without the golf course clubhouse entrance....Pits were on the right..)
Posted Image

At the bridge, you can see that this turns into a corner that may not be quite so easy...Can-Am cars were approaching 200 mph at this point...and a howling pack of Formula Fords at 110-115, well, it was a thrill even to watch.
Posted Image

Just past the bridge, it doesn't look too bad, but there is a substantial elevation change, and judging your speed gets harder. You CAN pass on the outside, but it certainly isn't recommended. (like once out of a hundred works)..
Posted Image

Looking back from turn 3 toward turns 2 and 1, you can see the elevation change. Turn 3 was a prime overtaking point if you made it through 1 and 2.
Posted Image



The complex doesn't look like much broken up into its component parts, but if you're in a fast car, on a very fast track, it is what Bruce MacInness called "the edge of the earth"...for good reason. And..the rest of the track wasn't any easier, just a fabulous place to race.

Edited by ralt12, 17 February 2013 - 06:32.