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    Circuit Histories Guide by Wolf Feather

    Version: Final | Updated: 10/15/02 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    LE MANS 24 HOURS: CIRCUIT HISTORIES GUIDE
    
    
    by
    Jamie Stafford/Wolf Feather
    FEATHER7@IX.NETCOM.COM
    
    
    
    
    
    Initial Version Completed: October 11, 2002
    FINAL VERSION Completed:   October 15, 2002
    
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    ACCOLADE: The Le Mans 24 Hours: Circuit Histories Guide was
    designated as Best In-depth Guide for October 13, 2002 on the
    FAQ Contributors Message Board on GameFAQs :-)
    
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    CONTENTS
    Spacing and Length
    Permissions
    Introduction
    Assumptions and Conventions
    Brno
    Bugatti
    Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain)
    Donington Park
    Le Mans
    Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center (Braselton, Georgia, USA)
    Suzuka (Japan)
    Contact Information
    
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    SPACING AND LENGTH
    For optimum readability, this driving guide should be
    viewed/printed using a monowidth font, such as Courier.
    Check for font setting by making sure the numbers and letters
    below line up:
    
    1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012
    ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
    
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    PERMISSIONS
    Permission is hereby granted for a user to download and/or
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    Remember:  Plagiarism in ANY form is NOT tolerated!!!!!
    
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    INTRODUCTION
    This predecessor to this guide was created due to a personal
    inquiry, wishing to learn more about the history of the race
    venues currently used in F1 competition.  This guide uses
    similar information for the race venues included in Le Mans
    24 Hours.  This is not intended to be a detailed history of
    all the race venues, but more of a general overview of the
    circuits.  As more information is gained, this guide will be
    modified and expanded accordingly.
    
    The majority of information for this guide comes from
    circuits' official Web sites.  To the extent possible, I will
    try to update circuit wins as best as I can, although that
    admittedly is not initially a priority in writing this guide.
    
    Those with additional information and/or suggestions should
    contact me (FEATHER7@IX.NETCOM.COM).  Please note that some
    of the race venues included here have multiple configurations
    used in Le Mans 24 Hours.
    
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    ASSUMPTIONS AND CONVENTIONS
    Most race circuits outside the United States (and a very few
    within) name most corners and chicanes, and even some
    straightaways.  Where these names are known and relevant to
    the circuit histories, they will be given.  These names have
    been gathered from course maps available on the courses'
    official Web sites, my memory of how races have been called
    by American TV sportscasters (Fox Sports Net and SpeedVision,
    in 1999 2001, and Speed Channel in 2002), and/or from the
    Training Mode of F1 Championship Season 2000 (corner/segment
    names are listed at the bottom of the screen).  To the extent
    possible, these names have been translated into English.
    
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    BRNO
    This 5.403-kilometer (3.377-mile) circuit is also kn0wn as
    the Masaryk Circuit, and is located near Brno in the Czech
    Republic.  The official Web site provides this excellent
    location information:
    
       Difference in elevation and attractive forest areas were
       the attributes of the classical Masaryk Circuit where
       motorcycle and automobile aces raced in 1930-1986.
       The same character was kept in the project of the modern
       closed circuit named Automotodrom brno - Masaryk Circuit
       and located at Kyvalka. The 5,4 km long track is so well
       positioned in the natural surroundings that it evokes
       feeling like it had been there always. Forests around the
       Masaryk Circuit make everyone feel very relaxed whether
       the racers or visitors and even tourists.
    
    Events at Automotodrome Brno include Motojaro and Motopodzim
    (which allows the average persons to use their own cars and
    motorcycles on the Brno circuit), Czech Automobile Hill Climb
    Championship, International Czech Championship of Touring and
    Formula Cars, FIA GT Championship, FIA Sportscar
    Championship, FIA European Touring Car Championship, Road
    Racing Motorcycle Endurance World Championship, International
    Czech Championship of Touring and Formula Cars, Central
    European Zone Championship of Touring and Formula Cars,
    International Cup Racing, Road Racing Motorcycle World
    Championship (125 cc, 250 cc and MotoGP), Formula 3000 Euro
    Series, and International Czech Motorcycle Championship,
    Epilog 2002 (International 6hrs. Endurance race of Touring,
    Grand Tourismo, Sporting and special cars).
    
    Circuit history from the official Web site:
    
       More than 70-year-old history of the Masaryk Circuit may
       be divided into two main eras.
    
       The first period belongs to the classical circuit, the
       history of which began with the first automobile race on
       Sunday September 28th 1930. The circuit's history is not
       only long but also very rich and interesting. Breathtaking
       races on a 29,1 km long track were held on the main road
       (Brno-Prague) and other local roads before WWII.
       Motorsport fans going to the Masaryk Circuit nowadays have
       to drive for a short time on a cobblestone road (hill at
       Popuvky), which brings the drivers back to the history and
       let experience the original pre-war track. Today we can
       only admire the brave knights flying with full throttle at
       the wheel of Tatras, Z Alfas, Mercedes, Auto Unions ...
       Yellowish photographs remember the first triumphs of
       Bugatti cars, the winning hattrick of the Monaco knight
       Chiron, the rising star and later Formula 1 Champion
       Farina. Photographers did not miss mad tricks of the 'red
       devil' Nuvolari, smiles of von Stuck, Rosemeyer, Lang and
       Caracciola who took the wheel of Mercedes and Auto Union
       cars. They represented the unbeatable line up of the pre
       war times. The archives revealed that the first race
       winner at the Masaryk Circuit was Morgen and the last
       battle on the endless classical track won Caracciola in
       1937.
    
       The Masaryk Circuit was shortened to 17,8 kms after the
       war. The first post-war race was held in 1949 - the
       legendary Czechoslovak Grand Prix, which was ridden in the
       opposite direction than the pre-war races. Over 400.000
       spectators saw a fantastic victory of Whitehead (Ferrari)
       from England, while the favourites - Maserati's Farina,
       Parnell, Bira and Chiron had to retire due to technical
       problems or accidents. Motorcycle took over the reign at
       the Masaryk Circuit in 1950. The political regime at that
       time was not in favour of the automobile sport and it
       named it 'bourgeois'. Year after year Brno hosted more
       quality riders. The success of Czech heroes Stastny,
       Havel, Bartos, Parus, Kostir, Slavicek and Srna riding
       with Czech made Jawa and CZ bikes caused a rapid growth of
       popularity. Newly reconstructed 13,9 km long classical
       circuit hosted the Road Racing Motorcycle World
       Championship GP in 1965 for the first time. Brno hosted
       regularly the series until 1982. The organizers were
       unable to meet the strict FIM safety regulations and
       though the track was shortened to 10,9 km the GP could not
       be held there any more.
    
       Before the old circuit finished its history in 1986, it
       still hosted 4 European Championship events and saw the
       revival of automobile racing. Cars returned to the Masaryk
       Circuit in 1962 thanks to Formula Junior races, which were
       followed by new Formula 3 series two years later. European
       Touring Cars Championship introduced in 1968 strengthened
       the image of the Brno circuit. Together with the
       motorcycle World Championship the Touring cars attracted
       many spectators to the Masaryk Circuit till the last
       sporting event. There were many recognised drivers racing
       in Brno -F1 champions Rindt and Lauda from Austria or
       Hulme from New Zealand.
    
       The new chapter in the history of the Masaryk Circuit was
       started in 1987 when the special closed circuit was
       inaugurated. The new track was well positioned into the
       beautiful natural terrain. It was located not even 10 km
       far from the old pits. The atmosphere of pre-war
       automobile races remember the narrow roads leading from
       Zebetin to Ostrovacice where the motorised knights cut the
       corners in the 1930s. The newly built track brought
       worldwide connaissance of Brno and the Czech Republic
       however the architects and engineers ad to dedicate a lot
       of time and effort to finish the construction.
    
       With the new track Brno figured again in the motorcycle
       World Championship calendar after a four year break. Those
       who admired Agostini, Hailwood, Read, Saarinen, Ivy,
       Cecotto, Ballington could find their new heroes at the
       modern Masaryk Circuit among such stars like Gardner,
       Spencer, Rainey, Lawson, Kocinski, Doohan, Roth, Bradl,
       Martinez. Some of the old favourites like Mang or sidecar
       ace Biland returned to Brno, too. Except year 1992 when
       the organizers did not agree on financial demands with the
       new series promoter, the Masaryk Circuit hosted the World
       Championship series regularly.
    
       The Czech Grand Prix became the most important sporting
       event broadcasted thanks to TV to all continents. Brno
       organizers did their maximum to keep the series, since
       1996 they have managed to rebuild the start/finish area,
       put on new pit boxes, reconstruct the paddock and prolong
       the track from 5,394 to 5,403 km. The organizers are very
       proud of the IRTA Trophy, which they received for the best
       GP in 1999. In between the motorcycle champs changed. Fans
       hurry to Brno in order to grab autographs of Rossi,
       Biaggi, Capirossi, Harada, Elias, Poggiali, Roberts jun.,
       McCoy, Nakano, Jacque and also the Czech heroes Hules and
       Jakub Smrz. The busy life of the Masaryk Circuit saw also
       twice the Superbike World Championship, once Sport
       prototypes World Championship, three times the
       international German Touring Cars and Formula 3
       Championship, which brought to the Brno track such stars
       like Schumacher, Frentzen, Rosberg, Schneder, Danner,
       Wendlinger and many other formula 1 stars. Coulthard,
       Häkkinen and the triple F1 World Champion Stewart were
       among honorary guests to the circuit, too.
    
       The rich programme of the circuit hosted the International
       Sportscar Championship, German and Swiss motorcycle
       Championship, Austrian automobile Championship or charming
       battles of historic Formula 1 cars. The international
       Czech motorcycle and Automobile championships visit Brno
       regularly. More and more spectators are attracted by the 6
       hrs. Touring and sports cars Endurance race however the
       number on among car races belongs to the FIA GT
       Championship. The Masaryk Circuit hosts every year a
       number of test drives, company presentations, social
       meetings and also other than motorsport activities (dog
       sledge competition etc.).
    
    See the official Web site
    (http://www.automotodrombrno.cz/index.asp?sekce=0&jazyk=en)
    for more information.
    
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    BUGATTI
    Located 5 kilometers (3.125 miles) from the city of Le Mans,
    the 4.305-kilometer (2.6756-mile) Bugatti Circuit was built
    in 1965 and comprises part of the Le Mans circuit.  Events
    held at Bugatti include Les 24 Heures du Mans, FIA F3000, and
    French Touring Car and GT races.
    
    I have been unsuccessful in finding either an official Web
    site or an official history for the Bugatti Circuit, but have
    found his (from
    http://jc.racesimcentral.com/guide/track_bugatti.htm):
    
       The Bugatti circuit at LeMans was not a great success. It
       was run on what was regarded as little more than a car
       park. One driver even managed to start the Phrase 'Mickey
       Mouse' which is used much more in modern F1. The drivers
       of 1967 were so critical of the track that a Grand Prix
       never returned to the track. A Feature of the track is the
       low grip nature of the circuit when you make a transition
       to and from the La Sarthe track onto the Bugatti short
       circuit.
    
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    CATALUNYA (BARCELONA, SPAIN)
    The Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona has hosted the Grand
    Prix of Spain since 1997.  The circuit hosts numerous forms
    of racing, including FIA Sportscar Championship, Spanish
    Formula-1 Grand Prix, 24 HOURS MOTORBIKE ENDURANCE, 24 HOURS
    CAR ENDURANCE, Catalunya Motorbike Championship, Spanish GT's
    Championship, Truck GP, and certainly F1 Racing; Catalunya
    even holds courses for the preparation of racing officials.
    Many teams also use the circuit for practice and testing.
    The circuit has three configurations: Grand Prix (7.563
    kilometers, or 4.727 miles), National (4.907 kilometers, or
    3.067 miles), and School (2.725 kilometers, or 1.703 miles).
    
    F1 winners at Catalunya: Jacques Villeneuve (1997), Mika
    Hakkinen (1998-2000), and Mika Hakkinen (2001 and 2002).
    
    See the official Web site (http://www.circuitcat.com) for
    more information.  Unfortunately, it does not have any
    historical information on the circuit, nor can I find any
    such information online.
    
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    DONINGTON PARK
    The Donington Park venue holds two circuits: the National
    Circuit and the International Circuit (the latter includes
    the parallel straightaways behind the Paddock Area).
    Donington Park is billed as a great place for car testing and
    launches, and also has days where the average drivers can
    take their cars and motorcycles to the tracks.  The Honda Ron
    Haslam Race School also used Honda Hornets, CBR600 and
    CBR900RR Fireblades to train people of all ages and abilities
    on motorcycles.  There is also the public Donington Grand
    Prix Collection museum, which contains more than 150 grand
    prix cars from the 1930s to the present.
    
    Race events include: Historic Sports Car Club Championships,
    British Formula 3 and British GT Championships, German
    Touring Car Masters, Donington Vintage and Historic Car
    Weekend, Cinzano British Motorcycle Grand Prix, Ford Racing
    Festival, Mini Racing Festival, MCN British Superbike
    Championship, BRSCC Car Championship, and British Truck
    Racing Championship.
    
    The official Web site (http://www.donington-park.co.uk/)
    unfortunately does not include any historical information.
    
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    LE MANS
    Dating back to 1923, The 24 Hours of Le Mans (Les 24 Heures
    du Mans) is one of the classics of auto racing.  In terms of
    endurance racing, this is THE race to win to turn a driver's,
    team's, or manufacturer's name into a household name at
    domiciles worldwide.  Part of the circuit uses the Bugatti
    circuit, while the rest is run on public roads.
    
    The 24 Hours Legend (from http://lemans24hb.free.fr/):
    
       All begins on May 26, 1923. By an execrable weather, but
       with 16 car manufacturer on the starting grid;
       manufacturer which engage for three years since the
       difficult challenge, rewarded by the cut Rudge and
       Whitworth, will be allotted only to the evening of the
       edition 1925....
    
       First steps of this ' historical ' race, the history
       retained the 100% french victory of Lagache and Léonard,
       with a Chenard and Walcker of 3 liters cubic capacity
       (entirely of series; it was the first criterion of
       participation required), with the average of 92 km/h. The
       English sportsmen, completely allured by the formula of
       competition which then leaves the free field with the
       gentleman-drivers, will react as of the following year,
       with Duff and Clement, on Bentley.  Lorraine (in 1925 and
       1926) will certainly take a shingling revenge, before
       Bentley does not display its superiority until 1930, Woolf
       Bamato won three victories for its the first three
       participations. Then, Italian industry with Alfa Romeo
       will get going to give a righter counterpart to this
       Anglo-Saxon domination and during four years (1931 - 32 -
       33 and 34). The greatest pilots have now rendez vous
       each year, in Le Mans. And their competitions delight the
       spectator... as in 1933, when incomparable Nuvolari
       surprises Chinetti's Alfa-Romeo, in the final lap, in the
       Arnage turn, for finally triumphing with a gap of 401
       meters.
    
       With Jean-Pierre Wimille, France has to join again with
       success and Bugatti will register two successes 1937 - 39,
       pulverizing the record at the distance, very close to the
       average of 140 km/h. The war of 1939 - 1945 will stop the
       effort of this brilliant French industry, which in
       addition of Bugatti can count on Delahaye (victory into
       38), Delage or Talbot. June 25, 1949 marks for the race a
       new start : the start was given by the president Vincent
       Auriol and within a renovated framework (24 Hour old
       village, grandstands, stands and... track), the name of
       Ferrari will enter officially the history of the
       competition. The author of this victory is Luigi Chinetti,
       still him, which sign its third success there by leaving
       the wheel only one small hour with its team mate, the
       english lord Selsdon.  Louis Rosier will do however better
       the following year, authorizing his son only two small
       turns with the Talbot victorious.  From 1951, the large
       car manufacurer will investing, on the Le Mans notoriety,
       with increasing budgets and with the best drivers.  The
       names of Jaguar (1951 and 1953), Mercedes (1952), and
       again Ferrari (1954) will fit little by little in the
       imaginary popular one, thanks to the 24 Hours impact. One
       follows the race to the radio, one is caught for Fangio
       and one cries with the listening of the drama of 1955. In
       any case, never the public will not have been also
       numerous with the traditional rendez vous of June ! And
       numbers British then discover the Old continent by
       beginning their holidays in Mans and with the triumphs of
       Jaguar (55 - 56 and 57) and Aston-Martin (59). But the
       Ferrari period is arrived. In particular with Gonzales and
       Trintignant, in 1954. However, Commendatore wants more and
       better; i.e. to impose to the world the quality of the
       sports cars which leave Maranello.
    
       From 1960 to 1965, the 'pulled up horse' will reign as a
       master on the Le Mans track, as well with the
       classification scratch as in the GT category or with the
       index of  performance. Olivier Gendebien and Phill Hill
       will thus pass the threshold of the posterity, and with
       them all these young drivers noticed by Enzo Ferrari and
       very honoured to have reached the scuderia : Pedro and
       Ricardo Rodriguez were these. Whereas Ferrari accumulates
       the victories, a man decided to succeed to him the 24
       Hours prize list. Since 1964, Henry Ford swore himself to
       gain the match Europe-America, intended definitively to
       open the large world export market. The commercial and
       sporting stake is so important than Ford does not even
       consider the possibility of a failure. In 1966, Ford with
       McLaren-Amon and Miles-Hulme finish on the same line... in
       fact the A.C.O. will slice... in favour of the first
       because they make a best times during qualifications.
    
       The following year, Gurney-and Foyt won, with an average
       of 218 km/h, 'the battle of the century'. P. Rodriguez and
       L.Bianchi will repeat the following year, before Ickx and
       Oliver ' do not sanctify forever ' Ford GT 40 with a gap
       of a few tens meters in front of Porsche of Hermann
       Larrousse. Porsche then has announced one new era. Notably
       with the fabulous and still unmatched record of Marko and
       Van Lennep, established in 1971, with an averge of 222
       km/h and a distance of 5.335 km with the mythical Porsche
       917.
    
       The modern era, it is Matra which will inaugurate it ,
       with a triptych (72-73-74) to which Pescarolo will be
       nicely associated. Era where French successes (Renault in
       1978, Rondeau in 1980, Peugeot in 1992 and 1993) will be
       made rather rare if one wants to take well into account
       crushing it domination of Porsche (10 victories in 20
       years) and a hierarchy unceasingly hustled since 1986...
       Jaguar (1988 and 1990), Mercedes (1989) and especially
       Mazda (1991) will touch the reward of their fidelity
       before Bernie Ecclestone does not decide, one fine day,
       that the endurance definitely made the too beautiful share
       with imagination.
    
       The A.C.O. failed to lose until its heart, but it seems
       today that spring, again, flowers over the 24 Hours of
       Mans. McLaren, first hatched flower of a new GT category,
       suggests in any case that the ' 24 Hours ' remain,
       initially and above all, an imposing festival of the car.
    
    See the official Web site (http://www.lemans.org/) of Les 24
    Heures du Mans.  Visit http://24h-le-mans.maxximum.org/ for
    the results of all Le Mans races since its inception.  See
    http://lemans24hb.free.fr/ for an EXCELLENT historical
    overview of Les 24 Heures du Mans, maps for ALL circuits used
    in the history of Les 24 Heures du Mans, and download
    features (including video of the 1999 Mercedes CLR suddenly
    going airborne and a full lap from the pace car).
    
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    ROAD ATLANTA MOTOR SPORTS CENTER (BRASELTON, GEORGIA, USA)
    With its triple configurations, Road Atlanta hosts numerous
    racing events, notably the Petit Le Mans.  Other events
    include SCCA Regional and National competition, Historic
    Sportscar Racing Walter Mitty Challenge, Ferrari Challenge,
    AMA Superbike 'Big Kahuna' Nationals, WERA National, SCCA
    Double SARRC Regional, Historic Sportscar Racing Atlanta
    Historics. WERA Grand National Finals, and SCCA American Road
    Race of Champions National.  The Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School
    and the Porsche Driving Experience also operate at Road
    Atlanta.
    
    Visit the official Web site (http://www.roadatlanta.com/) for
    more information.  Unfortunately, no history section is
    available.
    
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    SUZUKA (JAPAN)
    In operation since at least 1962 and the host of F1 races
    since 1987, Suzuka Circuit is the host of many forms of
    motorsport - including F1 and other Formula series, and
    motorbikes (including MotoGP) - as well as several racing
    schools.  Suzuka comprises two different circuits: the 5.821-
    kilometer (3.638-mile) International Racing Course (used for
    F1 events) and the 1.264-kilometer (0.790-mile) Southern
    Course (which itself contains numerous configurations).
    
    F1 winners at Suzuka: Gerhard Berger (1987 and 1991), Ayrton
    Senna (1988), Alessandro Nannini (1989), Nelson Piquet
    (1990), Riccardo Patrese (1992), Ayrton Senna (1993), Damon
    Hill (1994 and 1996), Michael Schumacher (1995, 1997, 2000,
    and 2001), and Mika Hakkinen (1998 and 1999).
    
    Unfortunately, the official Web site
    (http://www.suzukacircuit.co.jp/) is almost exclusively in
    Japanese. Many section titles are also given in English (such
    as Event Calendar, Group Enjoy!, and Circuit Queen), but the
    only truly-English area is a single page with downloadable
    files of information for buying tickets to the next Grand
    Prix of Japan.
    
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    CONTACT INFORMATION
    For questions, rants, raves, comments of appreciation, etc.,
    or to be added to my e-mail list for updates to this driving
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