Bob McMurray: Tracks on-track for big day out
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The list of great Formula 1 race circuits often overlooks Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Commonly know as Interlagos (meaning between two lakes), it was first used in 1940, with the first grand prix held in 1972, and has been the Brazilian home of Formula 1 since 1990.
Sadly it seems the 2019 Formula 1 race will likely being the last, as avaricious property developers circle this valuable piece of real estate.
The track’s future has been uncertain for years. But the clouds of uncertainty have become even darker with the lack of Brazilian drivers in grands prix.
Without a local driver, the huge crowds of traditionally passionate fans have drifted away and the TV ratings faded.
Armed robberies and attempted robberies of F1 staff have not helped the event’s reputation.
Arguably, a nail in the coffin came when the Brazilian Grand Prix’s biggest ally, Bernie Ecclestone, lost control of the sport.Ecclestone, with a Brazilian wife and huge farms in that country, always seemed to keep a benevolent eye on the event and Carlos Pace, the F1 driver after whom the circuit is named, was a favourite of his.
The track has been surrounded in recent years by the sprawling suburbs and favelas (slums) of Sao Paulo and is now becoming almost an island in a sea of high-rise apartments and crowded city streets.
Interlagos has produced fantastic races with fast, challenging corners, bumps and undulations, combined with unpredictable weather, and it rewards the bravest of drivers. The winner of this weekend’s Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix will have earned that win, but the facilities are tired, old and in need of a major renovation.
Perhaps this is reminiscent of another track recently in the news?
Last weekend Pukekohe Park Raceway produced one of the most dramatic and exciting Supercars events of the season.
It’s a track that also rewards brave driving, and is bumpy with fast demanding corners, including a challenging final corner called The Mountain, scene of many a spectacular incident.
And the raceway has often been the focus of speculation that it may have to close due to suburban sprawl and the associated problem of excess noise.
Happily for Kiwi race car fans, those threats appear to have faded.
Pukekohe Park Raceway was at its finest for the Supercars event with unpredictable weather and track conditions catching out the best of the drivers and producing a qualifying Top 10 Shootout with all five Kiwi drivers in the series involved.
A record crowd saw the best Supercar drivers in some great on-track battles with the top championship contenders, both Kiwis, coming out best.
Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin shared the honours, as well as being the centre of some controversy but make no mistake, this was racing at its finest. F1 could only wish for the drama and closeness of the battle — decided only at the last round.
It matters not that the Supercars on track were almost identical in technical term: what did matter was that the drivers and the show they put on, incited a passionate response from the fans, especially and importantly, the younger fans.
Parochial they may have been but the combination of Pukekohe Park Raceway, Kiwi drivers, the championship battle and the drama that went on sent people away fizzing about the weekend.
As one who can easily criticise the council for anything and everything, that organisation’s Ateed arm and personalities in the Franklin Local Board should be applauded for their continued support of the event.
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