Around the world in eight races

By Simon Maurice, November 24, 2011
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● DAYTONA 500 - Florida, USA

When: February

Why go: Remember Days of Thunder, or Disney's CARS? Well that's NASCAR - the good ol' boys getting down and dirty in packs of 30 at a mere 200mph.

The Daytona 500 in February is NASCAR's jewel in the crown. Located in North Florida, this festival of speed is a two-week affair, so you can escape the UK weather and take in Disney or Cape Canaveral on the same holiday outing. Lots of accommodation, inexpensive tickets and your chance to feel the ground shake as 43 of the world's best-roofed racers rip past you. Unforgettable.
www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com

● INDIANAPOLIS 500- USA

When: May

Why go: Think of a huge football stadium with two-and-a-half mile oval race track running round the bottom of the stand - that pretty much describes "Indy".

With a seating capacity of something around 400,000 it is the biggest sporting event in the world. This race will give you 33 Formula One-type cars circulating at a sobering 230mph for 500 miles but with something that F1 rarely delivers… overtaking. The "Great American Race" is a bit like the Superbowl meets the British Grand Prix on steroids – tacky, over-the-top but truly breathtaking and Indianapolis city itself is actually quite a nice place. A motor race of epic proportions. www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com

● MONACO GP - Monte Carlo

When: May

Why go: The race around the streets of Monte Carlo is a complete anachronism in racing terms, but it's still the race that every Formula 1 driver wants to win. The cars tear through some of the world's most expensive real estate at speeds up to 180mph, inches from unyielding steel barriers with, truly, NO margin for error.

The yachts, the celebs, the sound of screaming Grand Prix engines echoing off the buildings . . . Monaco is your chance to join the glitterati for a weekend. Perhaps combine it with an early summer holiday on the fabulous Cote d'Azur. If you're feeling well heeled - as even a cheap few days at the Monaco GP won't be (cheap, that is) - Monaco is a must.

www.monaco-grand-prix.com

● LE MANS 24 HOURS - France

When: June

Why go: Incorrectly billed as "The Great Race" – The Le Mans 24 Hours in mid June is much, more than that – it's a week long tribute to so many things that makes the automobile (and motor racing) great. A quarter of a million souls will descend on the French town (more than a third of them British) to enjoy just being around fantastic cars. The race itself is like no other and is the one that every manufacturer will spend millions on trying to win. Porsche, Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Peugeot, Ferrari, Toyota, Nissan, Lotus, McLaren and defending champs, Audi will all be there in 2012 as it forms the centrepiece of the newborn World Endurance Championship. Cheap to get to and offering a range of accommodation from tents at one end to Chateaux at the other, there is something for every pocket. Don't even bother to think of an excuse - GO!

www.lemans.org

● RALLY FINLAND

When: August

Why go: It used to be called the Rally of 1000 Lakes (because that's about how many lakes the track passes) but if you've ever wanted a mind-blowing experience in a forest, look no further than Rally Finland. Rallying is done on public roads (thankfully closed for the duration) and many of Finland's are gravel rather than tarmac. The word 'spectacular' just doesn't begin to describe watching very close-up as cars try to stay out of the trees at about 130mph. The tracks are often straight for kilometres at a time, with huge "yumps" that send the cars airborne – indeed, they apparently spend about 17 per cent of the time in the air on the rally's Special Stages (the flat-out, competitive sections). Finns learn the fine art of extreme car control at an early age and rarely does it get more extreme than at Finland's round of the World Rally Championship. The incredible scenery and heart-stopping action is a potent mix. Head to Jyvaskyla (about 3 hours North of Helsinki) and prepare to be astounded.

www.nesteoilrallyfinland.fi/en

● SINGAPORE F1 GP

When: October

Why go: Asia is rapidly becoming the new heartland of Formula 1 – around a third of the F1 championship is now held out there. Out of all of these races nowhere quite offers the experience of the Singapore GP.

Take Monaco, make it faster and with more chance to overtake, then run the race at night - that's Singapore. OK so F1 cars don't run lights, but the nice folk at Philips have taken care of that with 1600 light projector units that probably make it brighter to drive on than during the day.

The Marina Bay circuit is spectacular enough in its own right to make it worth the trip, but Singapore has created a whole festival around the race in October with parties, race-themed events, concerts, exhibitions and dining experiences.

Then of course, there's the legendary shopping ... Singapore is a fascinating place to visit but, at Grand Prix time, there is a whole extra dimension to the place and it offers the unique chance to experience F1 at night. Enough said.www.singaporegp.sg

● BATHURST 1000 NSW - Australia

When: October

Why go: Pull out your little hat with the corks on, hug a koala, pack up your didgeridoo and your cooler bag full of "Tinnies" and head off to Australia's epicentre of motorsport, Mount Panorama, Bathurst in New South Wales. Australia is best known in racing circles for big eight cylinder "muscle car" racing and the V8 Supercar drivers are probably even more popular in Oz than F1 star, Mark Webber.

The Bathurst race is the daddy of them all, 1000 kms of door banging action, fought out on a track that is public road for most of the year, as it winds it way up, down and around Mount Panorama.

It will be the 50th anniversary of race there in 2012 and that will make an already huge event even bigger. If you're in Sidney for Sukkot, head west into the countryside during Chol Homoed and enjoy a uniquely Australian motorsport extravaganza.
www.bathurst1000.com.au

● SAN LUIS WORLD GT FINALE - Argentina

When: November

Why go: You will find beaches to sunbathe on, mountains to ski on, the Pampas plains, Antarctic lands, jungle rain forests, the most spectacular set of waterfalls in the world and an amazing capital city complete with Kosher McDonalds.

It hosts the final of the World Championship for GT Cars (such as Porsches, Ferraris, Aston Martins), at one of the world's most beautiful racetracks.

The Lago Potrero de los Funes circuit is just outside San Luis, the capital of the San Luis Province, which is in the centre of the Argentina.

The track winds its way for four miles around the lake (an extinct volcano) after which the circuit is named. The racing is fast and furious and, with its undulations and mixture of corners, the drivers simply love it.

Spectators rapidly fall in love with it too. A great place to finish your global motorsport odyssey.

http://gt1world.com

    Last updated: 11:49am, November 24 2011