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Bucket List

Not unlike A Prairie Home Companion’s Guy Noir, I continue my search for the answers to life’s persistent questions, first and foremost among them: Is the bucket half empty or half full?  In this case, the bucket is my personal bucket list of motorsports events I’d love to see at least once in my time on earth.  Not surprisingly, spending a quarter century as an itinerant/free lance motorsports scribbler gave me a leg-up on checking-off a number of items on that list.

Indy 500 blogIndianapolis 500?  Check.  I’ve been to virtually every Indianapolis 500 since 1982 – indeed, given that the event was once a month long, it’s fair to say I devoted more than a year of my life to covering the Indianapolis 500.

Grand Prix of Monaco?  Check.  Purely by coincidence :) I arranged a trip to interview then-Monaco resident Alex Zanardi nine months after his crash at the Lausitzring to coincide with the 2002 Monaco Grand Prix.

World Rally Championship event?  Check.  Covered the first ever WRC Mexico in 2004 and loved every moment of it; even when I arrived in the city of Leon to find I had no rental car and the hotel I booked for the event was in the Yucatan . . .

NHRA?  Check.  While I wouldn’t want to make a steady diet of it, nothing I’ve experienced in motorsports comes close to matching the complete sensory overload of witnessing my first Top Fuel run which, in my case, took place at Pacific Raceways.

Formula Ford Festival?  Check.  This cauldron of emerging road racing talent was a springboard for the careers of Festival champions like Derek Daly, Roberto Moreno, Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine, Mark Webber and Jenson Button.  I tagged along with Jeremy Shaw’s Team USA Scholarship in 1992 when a young lad named Bryan Herta scored what was then the best finish (P7) by an American in the history of the Festival.The Ring

The Nordschliefe?  Check.  Just about any race at the Green Hell would do, and I’d love to experience the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring.  But I wouldn’t trade having watched the 1973 Grand Prix of Germany from the hillside along the Adenau descent for a lifetime VIP pass to some of today’s Tilke-dromes.  Did I mention it was Jackie Stewart’s 27th and final F1 win?

Finally, not a single event, but a list of events/circuits I thank my lucky stars I had the good fortune to experience before they disappeared or materially changed:  the original Laguna Seca, Riverside Raceway, the one and only Las Vegas Champ Car Grand Prix, Burke Lakefront Airport, Trois Rivieres . . . alas, never made it to Bridgehampton.

So that’s the half full part; the half empty part goes like this:

Bristol NASCAR Sprint Cup?  The night race, of course.  43 Sprint Cup Chevies, Fords and Toyotas on a high-banked, concrete, half mile ringed by grandstands reaching to the stars and amplifying the sounds of 35,000 horsepower.

Pikes Peak Hillclimb?  From run what ya brung to the craziest full-on hillclimb machines manufacturers can imagine, this 12.41 mile course with 156 turns climbs to the 14,110’ summit of the iconic Rocky Mountain the Unser family made their own.pikes peak (2)

24 Hours of Le Mans?  What more need be said?  THE world’s ultimate endurance race on a circuit and in a setting oozing motorsports lore.

Knoxville Nationals?  Think of it as the Formula Ford Festival on steroids and featuring what, to my mind, are the world’s toughest drivers racing for food.

United States Grand Prix (Circuit of the Americas)?  By all accounts a world-class race facility that does the world’s top drivers and fastest cars justice . . . in the United States . . . in Austin, capital of Texas cool.

Bathurst 1000?  One of the world’s last open road circuits, it’s a great one from the Conrod Straight to the Dipper. Throw-in the world’s coolest touring cars and racing that’s part NASCAR, part F1 in a land whose unofficial motto is “no worries.”TT

Isle of Man Tourist Trophy?  Speaking of open roads!  The awesome 37 mile Mountain Course would be daunting in any vehicle.  But to watch a week’s worth of motorcycle racing on this most spectacular and unforgiving of stages must be to gain a new-found appreciation for the words commitment and courage.

About DavidPhillips

David Phillips is the editor of inRacingNews.com. Phillips, a long-time contributor to print and electronic publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Racer, Autosport, AutoWeek, Motor Sport and SPEEDtv.com, oversees the daily updating of news stories and assigns, edits and contributes feature material for inRacingNews.com.

7 Comments

Your lovely piece kickstarts a string of memories, Like: When I was living in London in the sixties, I rented a motorscooter, put my wife on the back and rode down to Spa to watch my first F1 race and Dan Gurney’s First GP win. Flying to the Monaco GP from Britain with Jackie Stewart and his family on the Stewart jet. Team Stewart came in second for their first podium. Etc. etc. smile, chortle, grin and laugh out loud.

June 26th, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Bob Judd

I went to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 2011; the last year it had dirt for any portion of the racing surface. I want to go again, but I feel like the magic is lost now. Monster no longer is running in a 900HP beast, but in an overgrown R/C Car. And given the paving, all the old records seem meaningless now. That said, I’d imagine it’s still an amazing experience. I recommend talking to people who have gone before, there’s a lot of things that you need to have with you and make sure you do if you want to have a good time there.

I’d say Bristol has lost its magic too, ever since they repaved it. They’re desperately trying to fix that, but I’d recommend Martinsville over it for now. That said I’ve only been to Martinsville (both spring and fall), a Nationwide Charlotte race, and The Brickyard 400.

One thing that I’d like to add to the list is Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC on any given race night. If you’ve ever gone to a football game and seen a running track around the field, that’s essentially what they’re running on there. These are some of the best wheelmen around, and the tickets are dirt cheap. The modifieds get so intense there, History had a TV show on it called Madhouse.

July 10th, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Braden Carlson

Nurimburbgring. That’s were it’s at. I would love to go there and experience that race track one time.

July 10th, 2013 at 12:47 pm
Josh Rogers

You have to make a trip to Knoxville if not for the nationals for
a regular show there is no dirt track like it and no racecar like a winged 410 Sprint car.

July 10th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Anthony Warren

Great article Dave! You lucky ×%×%×_×! ;) Don’t forget to make the Chili Bowl one day. l

July 10th, 2013 at 6:45 pm
Tim Doyle

Great work David, as always. Many a motorsport fan’s bucket list will have commonalities with another..! If you ever make it Down Under for the Bathurst 1000, we’ll be sure and take you to some fine wineries, and some nice pubs in the Blue Mountains. No worries!

July 11th, 2013 at 5:50 am
Patrick Atherton

I would love to see some dirt track oval tracks and cars. The roots of oval racing.

September 1st, 2013 at 8:02 pm
Brad Lawson
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