What Are The Best Motor Races You Should See?

F1 cars race in the Monaco Grand Prix - one of the best motor races on Earth
There’s Formula 1, WRC, World Endurance Championship, MotoGP and several premier racing series. But what are the best motor races you should see? Here’s a list. 

As soon as cars were invented, races of various sorts were organized. The first organized race was recorded as early as 1867. Soon, these races became an important way for competing makers to demonstrate their machines. I’m sure you remember the competition Ford and Ferrari had back in the 60s – further popularised by the recent Hollywood flick.

The two companies were almost at each other’s throats where they both looked to construct the fastest car at Le Mans. In this fierce competition, the Ford GT40 Mk I was born (a prototype used in Daytona which managed to bring fear to Ferrari), with the second prototype to win the Le Mans. For more on the ‘Ford vs. Ferrari’ competition, I recommend viewing the movie by the same name.

For this post – just as manufacturer rivalries have headlined through the years, here is a list of some of the best motor races across various racing series (four wheelers). 

The Monte Carlo Rally

Monte Carlo’s state isn’t only about the Monte Carlo Casino, which you see in the movies, and hear stories of people playing some table games like roulette, blackjack, or poker. Monte Carlo is also known for its rallies. One of them is officially called Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo. Each year, this rally is organized by the Automobile Club de Monaco, and it takes place along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco and southeast France.

From a racing perspective, this rally has everything, from unpredictable conditions at each starting point to famous special stages in the world. Race drivers will have to face sometimes single-stage race conditions like dry tarmac, wet tarmac, snow, and ice. The stage rally is run from La Bollene-Vesubie to Sospel, or sometimes it is the other way around. The racetrack is composed of steep and tight mountain roads with many hairpin turns.

The route is about 31 km, which passes over the Col de Turini, a mountain pass road with ice and/or snow on some sections. The first race that happened at The Monte Carlo Rally was in 1911. The cars used for this race are in the Rally category, such as Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Renault Clio etc.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Pikes Peak Hill is also called The Race to the Clouds, which is considered the king of all hill climbs. This race is the second oldest motorsports race in the US, and it has a long-standing tradition. The first race happened in 1916, and it has a 12,42-mile course with 156 turns that begin at 9,390 feet tall, and it finishes at the foot summit of Pikes Peak (14,115 feet tall).

This race can be considered a challenge for the driver and the car because as the driver climbs towards the summit, the thin air slows reflexes and saps muscle strength. The vehicle is also affected because the thin air robs the engine of 30% of its power. Of course, there is also a record set by Sebastien Loeb in 2013 – 8:13.878, one that is yet to be beaten.

The race requires an incredible amount of focus, tenacity, and guts to conquer it because it requires just one mishap, which can send you tumbling off a cliff. The track is also called The Devil’s playground, and there is no other racecourse in the world like The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. That’s why this motor race attracts race crews that are willing to spend months of preparation to compete for the right to be the King of the Mountain.

Sauber’s 50 Years In Motorsport: From Hill Climbs To Formula 1
24 Hours of Nurburgring

We spoke earlier of 24 hours of Daytona (in the US) and 24 hours of Le Mans (France). Now it’s time for 24 hours of Nurburgring, which is central Germany. Like Daytona and Le Mans, this motor race is a 24-hour annual touring car and GT endurance racing event held at the famous Nordschleife since 1970. The racetrack, which has a single lap length of approx. 25 km, allows more than 200 vehicles and over 700 drivers to participate.

This motor race has a very tough track called The Green Hell. Many believe that this event is the world’s most epic and grueling endurance race. The scenery and surroundings are beautiful, but the action is non-stop. The race itself is the ultimate test of man and machine.

Monaco Grand Prix 

Coming back to glamorous Monaco and Monte Carlo, the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix first started in 1929 around the tight streets of Monte Carlo. Since then, the race is undoubtedly seen as the most glamorous of all races – also known as the ‘crown jewel’ of Formula 1. Monaco Grand Prix is the race where you see all the celebrities in attendance. You can also see how this race tests the driver because it is an incredibly tight, narrow circuit with run-off areas. A single mistake can be devastating, costing a driver not just race results and damage to machinery but even bodily injuries.

The street circuit has a plethora of twists and turns. The lack of a run-off area and presence of armco barriers on both sides of the track has proved to be a punishing layout. To get an idea of how tight this course is, you should look at late Ayrton Senna, where in 1990 he was trying to manhandle his car around the track.

Indianapolis 500

One of the most famous races in America is coincidentally organised on the same day as the Monaco Grand Prix (most recent years) often forcing a driver to choose between the two. The race is hosted at the famous ‘Brickyard’ circuit (otherwise known as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) in the suburb of Indianapolis – and as the name suggests, the race is a 500 mile event.

Held in 1911, the Indianapolis 500 (or Indy 500) is also one of three crowns of Motorsport – the other two being the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the earlier days, the prestige of winning the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’ (all three races) was far higher and several drivers attempted it, most-recently being Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso.

Despite the dangers of oval racing, the Indy 500 attracts top-racing talent in the world. The race has a unique qualifying format and serves the winner a bottle of milk instead of the traditional champagne!

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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