Every petrolhead has a top-five dream list when it comes to racetracks to visit. Most of these tracks are spread across Europe, but are still conveniently located within a day’s drive of each other. Keep in mind that racing a rental car on most tracks can incur heavy fines – if you’re going to “drive at a track” it’s simpler to rent a car by the hour from specialist rental agencies around the circuit.
Monaco – A blue-blood line
As racetracks go, this street circuit in the blue-blooded principality of Monaco epitomizes the spirit of racing. From its rich history to the aura of wealth and opulence that surrounds it, Monaco has it all. Along with the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 hour race, it forms the triple crown of motor racing.
With its frequent elevation changes, tight corners and a tunnel section, the average speeds are moderate. Briton Graham Hill dominated the race in the 60s with five wins, while Brazilian Ayrton Senna ruled the 80s with five consecutive wins from 1989-93.
Monza – Viva l’Italia
A scenic drive from Monaco along the Ligurian seashore of Italy takes you to Monza, thirty miles north-west of Milan. The Autodromo Nazionale Monza, close to the city, is home to the Italian Grand Prix. The venue has three tracks: a 3.6 mile track used for the Formula One races, a 1.5 mile junior track and a 2.6 mile high-speed oval that is historic but has been unused for decades. Monza is a high-speed track characterized by long straights and fast corners. It is a venue that allows both man and machine to showcase their abilities.
Max Mosley finished eighth in a race at Monza in 1969. A barrister by qualification, Max Mosley has enjoyed success both as a racing enthusiast and as a capable administrator of the sporting body. As President of the FIA from 1993 to 2009, he has spearheaded many initiatives to make motor racing a safer sport, and his influence is still being felt, particularly in the light of the recent Jules Bianchi crash. You can see his comments on the crash online.
Spa – A racers delight
A nine-hour drive from Monza via the Swiss Alps and through the French province of Bordeaux brings you to the Stavelot district in southern Belgium, home to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The circuit is home to the Belgian GP and the Spa 24 hour race. It is a track replete with a long and pedigreed racing heritage. The 4.3 mile circuit winds its way through the scenic countryside, with the first race held here dating back to 1922.
Spa is rated as one of the fastest tracks on the Formula One circuit. Spa is notorious for its fickle weather – often during a race, part of the circuit is wet and slippery with rain, with bright sunshine over the rest. Ferrari with 16 wins and Michael Schumacher with six wins are the team and driver with the most victories at Spa.
The Formula One season runs from mid-March to end November, with the European leg running from May to early September. A road trip across Europe to visit these historic tracks while taking in the local sights and sounds would be any petrolhead’s fantasy. So what are you waiting for?