Very interesting read on the history of Rockingham Motor Speedway in the October issue, particularly as I attended both Champ Car races as well as the opening test event when 1993 Indycar champion Nigel Mansell achieved an average speed of over 160mph. We thought that was pretty fast, until the Champ Car teams managed over 210mph on the first day of testing. Apparently the cars were at full throttle for the entire lap, apart from a little lift going into Turn 2 because it was downhill. They drafted and ran wheel to wheel all through the race, but the best part was that you could see the entire circuit from the grandstands – something no other UK track can offer.
On the subject of ‘weepers’, I lived in Indianapolis from 1990-96 (after visiting the Indy 500 in 1990, I liked it so much I enrolled in college just so I could stay and watch more racing) and remember the ’91 race being delayed by over three hours due to weepers. They had all the marshals with brooms brushing the water away, with three of those jet engine blowers drying the moisture as it came through the surface. As you say, it was like sitting next to a runway. So weepers are not unique to Rockingham – several circuits in the USA have similar problems, particularly Indy itself.
I have been to Rockingham several times since the Champ Car races, both for BTCC and ASCAR rounds (remember those?), and also with various car magazines who use it for performance testing or Car of the Year features.
We’ve also hired the circuit ourselves for PR test drive activities to promote the Ferrari Approved programme. It’s a fantastic circuit, with excellent pitlane and corporate hospitality facilities.
However, when I visit I’m always a little sad that the UK wasn’t able to sustain a round of the IndyCar (or even NASCAR) championship as I’d make sure to be there every year. It would also silence any nay-sayers who think oval racing is boring because they just go round in circles. I defy anyone to visit an IndyCar or NASCAR race and come away with the same opinion.
Jason Harris, Communications Director, Ferrari Northern Europe, Berkshire