Heavy metal thunder
V8 muscle, FF 1600 and hotdog-eating contests – the SpeedFest isn’t quite your typical race weekend
The sixth American SpeedFest, on June 9/10, continues in the same spectacular vein as its forebears. The event is a celebration of American muscle and motor sport at Brands Hatch, and the line-up mixes the two in familiar style.
Headlining will be the third round of the Euro NASCAR Series (NWES), which has been given a fresh lease of life in recent years.
Bobby Labonte, 1991 second-tier NASCAR champion and NASCAR Cup champion in 2000, is competing full-time in the series and the stock car racing legend lines up against sports car veteran Marc Goossens, Briton Alex Sedgwick, former Champ Car driver Bruno Junqueira and 2017 NWES champion Alon Day.
The series has gained further traction lately, with a number of drivers taking seats in the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series in the United States, while former Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver and current Ferrari test driver Daniil Kvyat also tried a NWES stock car in the pre-season test at Franciacorta.
The spec-series fields cars powered by 5.7-litre V8 engines, boasting 400bhp engines – and competition is close. The double-header is bolstered by the Legends Championship, Bernie’s V8s, Formula 5000 and a Formula Ford 1600 race on the Saturday, which makes for a packed weekend of club racing along with the FIA-sanctioned double-header. Demo runs ensure that US-spec NASCAR stock cars will feature, as will 1950s and ’60s stock cars.
Off-track, the second-generation Dodge Charger will be celebrated on its 50th birthday, with other displays paying homage to the best of Americana.
There is, of course, a healthy dose of the more gluttonous side of American sports: a barbecue competition and a hotdog-eating contest only add to the competitive but light-hearted spirit of the weekend.
Weekend tickets start from £32 for adults, while day tickets begin at £25 – grandstand entry costs extra.
HOW TO GET THERE
Brands Hatch is on the A20, 20 miles away from Central London and just off the M20 and M25 motorways. Public transport can take visitors from London Victoria to Swanley station, about six miles away.
ALSO GOING ON
Brands Hatch also hosts ‘Deutsche Fest’, featuring – you guessed it – the best of German motor sport, on June 16-17. F1 demo laps, the Volkswagen Racing Cup, the M3 Cup and big helping of car culture fill the weekend.
The NASCAR Euro Series hits just one oval circuit this year and that’s at Tours, France. The weekend of June 29-July 1 features another festival celebrating all that is Americana on a short-oval – often where the best stock car racing takes place.
IN THE UK
June 2-8, Isle of Man TT, UK The 99th Isle of Man TT promises another close rivalry between Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop, the pair having switched teams for 2018. John McGuinness won’t be competing for Norton, but there’s a strong field hoping to lap the course at more than 130mph in front of 45,000 spectators.
IN THE UK
June 9/10 XK70 Jaguar Festival, Shelsley Walsh At the heart of this event, celebrating 70 years of the stunning Jaguar XK, will be a world record bid as the XK Club aims to assemble 700 XK-engined cars. Plus, the Le Mans XJ220 runs up the hill with various Group C racers.
June 10, Formula E, Zurich The Formula E Zurich ePrix will be the first circuit race to be held in Switzerland since a ban imposed in the wake of the 1955 Le Mans disaster. A legislative change in 2015 opened the door to the all-electric category.
June 13-16, Le Mans 24 Hours, France Toyota swept the privateers away at the Spa 6 Hours, but Le Mans has a habit of throwing spanners in the works. Will Toyota finally be able to secure its first outright success?
June 17-24, Pikes Peak Hillclimb, Colorado, USA Volkswagen’s electric I D R has stolen the headlines for the 96th Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, but Bentley will be gunning for SUV supremacy with time attack and open-wheel class records also up for grabs. Turn to page 122 to find out more.
JUNE 3 MOTOGP Italy
JUNE 3 INDYCAR Detroit
JUNE 9 INDYCAR Texas
JUNE 10 FORMULA 1 Canada
JUNE 10 WRC Italy
JUNE 17 MOTOGP Catalunya
JUNE 24 INDYCAR Road America
JULY 1 MOTOGP Assen
JULY 1 FORMULA 1 Austria