In the October issue of Motor Sport editor Damien Smith wrote a piece on Rockingham Motor Speedway. Just over ten years ago today it hosted the first-ever Champ Car meeting in the United Kingdom.
It was a strange moment, as Damien reminded us in the article. “As Saturday afternoons go, this is trippy,” he said. “The collective howl of 26 Champ Car engines engulfs all the senses as the multi-coloured missiles sweep off Turn 4. Deep breath, blink, pinch a forearm. Have we been teleported to the American Midwest? No, apparently not. This is Middle England, not the Midwest. And this is really happening.”
Unsurprisingly the 10-year anniversary didn’t pass by unnoticed at the track itself. In order to celebrate, Rockingham organised a demonstration run with a Penske Champ Car ‘similar to that which won the Rockingham 500’ when Gil de Ferran was at the wheel in 2001.
The Penske PC-26 managed to break the 200mph barrier in the run and worked up to an average lap speed of 169mph with ex-Formula 3 racer Gary Ward driving.
Even if you missed it, there’s a video to remind us all of what it was like to have Champ Car at Rockingham. It was certainly a golden two years at the Northamptonshire track, and although I doubt we’ll see another American single-seater series visiting the banked oval any time soon, at least we can sit back and enjoy the video. It really was a Herculean effort to make those two races happen a decade ago.