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  • Published: Feb 17th, 2012
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Three of the Best Formula 1 Races of All Time

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English: at San Marino/Imola Grand Prix in 1989.

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The recent passing away of British racing hero Peter Gethin brought back memories for Formula 1 fans of his victory in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix, the closest race in F1 history.

The famous bout in Monza saw him crossing the line just 0.01 seconds ahead of second-placed Ronnie Peterson, with just 0.61 seconds separating the top five drivers in one of the most exciting ends to a race ever seen.

Over the years, Formula 1 has been the place to experience days of racing excitement like know other. We look back at three more classic F1 races which will live long in the memory and have been firmly cemented in the sport’s history.

Japanese Grand Prix, 1989

One of many classic battles between McLaren teammates and fierce rivals Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost as both went head-to-head for the drivers’ championship going into the penultimate race of the season. Despite sitting on pole, Senna saw Prost race ahead for a five-second lead right at the start but he clawed it back to just one second with seven laps to go in this potentially title-deciding race. Senna took a brave inside line but Prost refused to budge, with both cars sliding into the gravel. With Prost’s car forced into retirement, the determined Senna refused to give up on the title, crawling back to the pits to have his damaged car repaired before eventually storming past new leader Alessandro Nannini on the same chicane on the final lap. He appeared to have rescued his chances of pipping Prost to the championship by crossing the line first, before he was disqualified for failing to properly complete the chicane after his earlier clash with his French rival.

Spanish Grand Prix, 1991

On this occasion, the rain in Spain fell mainly on the track, contributing significantly to a thrilling battle between racing legends Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna. Gerhard Berger Jean Alesi and a young Michael Schumacher made things interesting in the early laps too, with Berger storming into the lead. After a thrilling tussle, Mansell emerged ahead of Senna and the rest of the chasing pack after the pair’s wheels touched and the Brit soon slipped ahead of Berger, while Brazilian Senna spun in the watery conditions, condemning him to a fifth-placed finish as Championship rival Mansell held his nerve for the win.

Brazilian Grand Prix, 2008

In just his second year in Formula 1, British hopeful Lewis Hamilton took his place on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix knowing he needed just a fifth place finish to secure the championship title on which he had narrowly missed out the previous season. Lining up fourth with closest rival Felipe Massa on pole ensured a nervous start for the young Briton, while the arrival of rain 63 laps in threatened his title dream further. After changing tyres, Hamilton watched in vain as first Timo Glock and then Sebastian Vettel slipped past him to leave him in a title-crushing sixth place. Massa crossed the line for the win with his Ferrari team celebrating what they thought was also championship victory. But Hamilton persevered and as Timo Glock’s dry tyres struggled in the torrential rain, the 23-year-old snuck past him on the final corner for that all-important fifth place and with it became the youngest ever Formula 1 Champion.

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How Do You Become A Racing Driver?

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Michael Schumacher driving for Scuderia Ferrar...

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Motorsport has been big business for over half a century, and rightly so. Whether it’s the glitz and glamour of open-wheeled Formula One racing, the all-American thrills of NASCAR or the more obscure feeder series’ for these and other high profile racing events, seeing those death-defying vehicles race around might well inspire you to ask ‘couldn’t I do that?’. This blog post aims to answer that question with some simple tips and difficult truths:

The Age Question

If you’re a fan of motorsport, it won’t have escaped your attention that drivers are often very young. Michael Schumacher is the oldest racing driver in Formula One at 42, and despite being seven time world champion, he is considered past his prime (as he was five years ago, when he announced his initial retirement). The last time anyone over forty one a world championship was Jack Brabham, back in 1966. In the last decade, the only person over 35 has been Schumacher himself.

If you’re reading this how-to guide for yourself whilst seriously considering a career in motorsport, you will have to understand that starting young is considered essential for competing in most of the big-name championships. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions (Damon Hill started motorcycle racing at the age of 21 and didn’t step into a racing car until the age of 23).

It also doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of opportunities for competitive racing out there. Anyone who has obtained a driver’s license can then train for a racing drivers license at a number of centres. There are also plenty of local (and legal) racing events for everything from clapped out old commercial cars to pickup trucks and stock cars. With a little investment, you could have a fun new weekend hobby!

Starting Young

The reality is, if you haven’t started racing by the time you’re a teenager, you will almost certainly never make it to the higher echelons of motorsport.

Why is this? Well, progression in motorsport certainly isn’t any different to progression in many other sports. Footballers (American or ‘Soccer’ players), tennis pros, athletes and more start very young and become full professionals around school leaving-age. Just because driving is something that millions of people do, doesn’t mean we’re all trained to racers: billions of people can run, but a statistically insignificant number of us can compete with Usain Bolt.

Racing drivers must learn racing skills: how to overtake, how to find the correct racing line, how to belt it round a track at the highest speed possible. The vast majority of drivers start learning this in local karting championships, usually in their preteens. With practice, some will show their talent. For others, it’s simply not meant to be.

Next Steps

Depending on what area of motorsport you’re aiming for, the step after karting is to jump to through advanced cars in the intermediate and advanced local-level divisions below your target sport. In American stock car racing, hopefuls aim for the ‘Late-Model’ local divisions. Those targeting Formula One go from karting to the one make Formulae (like Formula Renault, Formula Toyota and the like), before making the leap to feeder series like Formula Two, Formula Three and GP2.

Of course, there are regional biases: it’s difficult for a British racer to take the stock car route, for instance. Drivers frequently crossover between the various types of racing, being taken wherever they feel the thrill of speed (and sponsorship money) is to be found. It’s tough to make it as a professional driver, much less a driver who makes it to the top. You get there by winning races, getting sponsored and getting noticed. You’ll notice that there are holes in this general advice, because neither talent nor blind luck are things that I can prepare you for!

Jo Johnson is a copywriter working on projects for MWVC, a Vauxhall vivaro hire company.

Formula 1200 Is The Racing League For The Rest Of Us

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Emerson Fittipaldi dominated the 1994 Indianap...

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Race car driving is challenging, fun and expensive. Many people who have the talent to become a competitive driver and appear on television in the Indy 500 or on the streets of Monaco in a Formula One car never get the chance. The sport is simply too expensive for most young talents to give it a try.

Harry O’Neal believes that just isn’t fair and knows an affordable way for boys and girls to test their talent on the track. Harry is the president of the Ontario chapter of the Formula 1200 Driver’s Association. If you aren’t familiar with Formula 1200, perhaps you have heard of Formula Vee. They are the same international racing league.

A decent Formula 1200 car costs between $10,000 and $12,000. Fees and expenses for a race weekend run from $350 to $500. Expenses will be higher if the car gets damaged, but not significantly. O’Neal points out that rebuilding the front end costs about $500 for a Formula 1200 car compared to $2000 for a Formula Ford.

O’Neal is quick to point out that the key to success in Formula 1200 is the driver’s skill. The rules dictate that every car in the field has nearly identical performance. Stock Volkswagen 4 cylinder, 1200 cc, air-cooled engines are in every Formula 1200 car. They cannot weigh less than 464 kilograms and the wheels, brakes and transaxle are all VW stock.

Even though the engines only produce 55 to 60 horsepower, the cars can reach 200 km/h on a long straight. Because these are small cars, with a low center of gravity, it feels much faster to the driver. Formula 1200 is an exciting racing league and a great way for young drivers to experience the sport of open wheel racing. Best of all, this is a league that doesn’t require a huge budget to compete.

Make no mistake, however, if you have the talent in Formula 1200, there is every possibility you could pilot a car in one of the major racing leagues down the road. Nikki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi and Bobby Rahal all proved themselves in Formula 1200. This is a growing sport in Canada and around the world. If you know a youngster with a passion for racing but lacking the budget to compete in Formula Atlantic or Formula Ford, introduce them to Formula 1200. There is no telling how far they might go.


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The “New” Grand Prix

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Eddie Irvine, Indianapolis, 2002

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The Grand Prix has been offering indoor go-kart racing for the last few years during the race, but this year organizers wanted to try something new. Event organizers approached Tom Kutscher, the owner of Kart Express, to set up an outdoor half-mile go-kart track with the sights and sounds of the Grand Prix in the background. For $15, fans can take a spin on the track at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.

So far, fans have really taken to the new racetrack, but some others have come for something a little different. From flocks of young girls who turned out to see boy band sensation and celebrity race participant Kevin Jonas to fans looking for a chance to listen in on headsets as drivers talk to their crews to the aforementioned go-karts, the Grand Prix offered an impressive experience to the thousands of new and longtime racing fans in attendance. This has gone a long way towards turning the Grand Prix from something aimed at die-hard racing fans to a family-friendly event that promises to turn first-time attendees into lifelong fans.

Longtime racing fans such as 51 year-old John Reese, who has missed just one Grand Prix back in 1977, turned out to see the exciting action that they have grown to love. Reese himself has been involved with the Grand Prix since he was a teenager working in the hot dog stands. The Irvine resident now handles security for the event. He says that there is a “great group of racers this year,” and that the races are some of the best he’s seen in a long time.

Nick and Karen Lombardo say they used to videotape the Grand Prix so they could watch it with the commentary and not miss a thing. They were two of the many fans who opted to pay $40 to rent the headsets for the weekend.

Many of the new fans turned out for the family-friendly spectacle of the event, but for fans such as 42 year-old John Glencoe, racing was the sole attraction.

To many, The Grand Prix is an event to look forward to. However exciting this event can be, it is always important to remember that driving responsibly always comes first. For driver of any age and sex, it is required by law to have car insurance whenever you are operating a vehicle. Without proper insurance, you may be penalized.


If you are a Canadian resident and looking for the best rates for car insurance in Ontario, you should use an online service to compare quotes. Using a quote comparison service allows you to get the best rates for automobile insurance as you can compare prices offered by multiple insurance providers.

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