The Grand Tour
If you've taken our advice in point 16, then try and stay out there for at least 10 days, because Italy bleeds motorsport tradition like America, England and France. Here are just four ways to let it soak in.
20) Pescara, on the east coast of Italy, was the setting for the longest circuit in Formula 1 World Championship history, and is almost intact because it was a temporary road course. As you climb and plunge through picture-perfect villages around its 16.032 miles, you can reflect on Juan Manuel Fangio's pole position speed of 98.726mph…
21) The Alpine Rally featured the legendary Stelvio Pass which remains one of the greatest driving roads in the world. Take it easy and enjoy the breathtaking scenery or if you want to press on a little, make sure your car has good brakes and quick-rack steering…
22) A trip to Maranello is going to be worthwhile anyway, if only to eat at the famous Il Cavallino restaurant, but get on a Ferrari factory tour, too, and immerse yourself in the history of the place. Should you succumb to the temptation of purchasing one of their current models, you'll also be allowed to test drive it on the company's private Fiorano track.
23) If you've gone all the way to Italy, how about hopping across to Sicily and taking in the Targa Florio course? There were several versions of it, so it's worth doing your research carefully to get the most from the experience. But as you're passing through the little villages, it will be hard not to get goosebumps at the thought of Porsche 908s and Ferrari 512s whipping past at high speed within a few feet of the bravest and/or least imaginative spectators.
With all those air miles you've stacked up from the various U.S. trips (and an F1 race or two, perhaps), get out of your U.S./European comfort zone with these two bad boys:
24) The Bathurst 1000 is the essence of all things Australian. For most of the year, the Mount Panorama circuit is a sedate, but scenic drive in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Then, for the week of the Bathurst 1000, it's the spectacular stage for big-banger V8 sedans from Ford and Holden (GM), driven by no-nonsense local heroes doing battle in front of their rabidly partisan fans. Watching the action at the top of the spectacular Mountain section, with several thousand beer-fueled Aussies for company, will be life changing. bathurst.v8supercars.com.au
25) Macau is a former Portuguese colony on the Chinese coast that makes its living from casinos and tourism and is pretty much left to its own capitalist devices by the communist government – a situation that benefits both sides. For a week in November, the Macau Grand Prix hosts Formula 3, the World Touring Car Championship, and even motorcycle racing on a fast, tight and, quite frankly, frightening street circuit called the Guia. To try to describe it is to do it a huge injustice – it's best that you go there. www.macau.grandprix.gov.mo
Off the Beaten Track
For many, it's all about getting down and dirty
26) Head south of the border for the granddaddy of all off-road races, the Baja 1000. The Trophy Trucks and Class 1 buggies redefine spectacular, the atmosphere borders on the insane and, despite the dreadful things going on in the border regions, chances are you'll come back not only alive but also desperate to return. www.score-international.com
27) Head even farther south, to Argentina and Chile, for the Dakar Rally, where Europe's best off-road racers (plus the evergreen Robby Gordon) face the ultimate test of endurance on some of the planet's most spectacular stages. Proving the naysayers wrong, moving the event from North Africa to South America has given it a new lease on life. www.dakar.com
28) Watch the fastest machines on dirt at Rally Finland, the most intense event in the World Rally Championship. Not for nothing is it nicknamed The Finnish Grand Prix. The pace, precision and commitment of the local heroes, as well as WRC megastars such as Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg, over the yump-filled, tree-lined roads has to be seen to be believed. www.nesteoilrallyfinland.fi/en/
29) Switch to two wheels and catch a MotoGP race – preferably with the soccer-stadium atmosphere of a Spanish round. Despite the factories feeling the economic squeeze, with just 18-bike grids at present, it's a golden era for motorcycle racing's pinnacle series. Nicknamed “The Aliens” for their out-of-this-world skills, messrs Lorenzo, Rossi, Stoner and Pedrosa are taking the racing to new levels, and American rising star Ben Spies is poised to join their lofty ranks. www.motogp.com/en/Race+Tickets
30) Take a race school. All pro racers took a racing school before launching their careers, and you can do the same – at the same schools and with the same sanctioning bodies.
Many pro racers started out in SCCA (www.scca.com) or NASA (www.nasaproracing.com), so try one of their sanctioned race schools on for size.
31) Then enter a race. It sure would be a shame to let that racing school knowledge go to waste – so enter a real race. SCCA and NASA both sanction races you can compete in with your newly acquired race license. Don't own a racecar? You can always rent one for the weekend. There is no excuse not to race at least once in your life.
32) Drive a Formula 1 car. Yes, you can! OK, it's not a 2010-spec machine, but gunning a 700hp-plus, carbon-braked Arrows A18 around the Monticello Motor Club track in New York State is still an experience like no other. Short of stowing away on the Space Shuttle, it's got to be the ultimate thrill ride for mere mortals. www.worldclassdriving.com
33) Unbelievable, but true: For just 22 euros (30 bucks at current exchange rates), you can take your own car, as fast as you dare, for a lap around the 13 miles and 70-plus turns of Germany's anachronistic, but totally awesome and epic Nurburgring-Nordschleife. For a couple hundred of those euros, you can take a lap with a pro in a BMW “Race Taxi” or Nissan GT-R. You. Must. Go. www.nuerburgring.de
34) Be amazed by the Goodwood Festival of Speed, an annual garden party for racing's past and present hosted by Lord March in the grounds of Goodwood House, his stately pile in southern England. As eclectic as it is breathtaking, the event brings together hundreds of era-defining racecars and generations of top drivers – then sends them up his Lordship's driveway in a blur of revs and tire smoke. www.goodwood.co.uk/festival-of-speed
35) And be equally amazed by the Goodwood Revival, an exquisitely staged recreation of racing in the 1950s and '60s on the Goodwood race circuit. The crowd and competitors come dressed for the period, the machinery is immaculate…and the racing? Hardcore. www.goodwood.co.uk/revival
36) The USA has its own unmissable retro race festival. The Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a celebration of American muscle and European ingenuity at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's annual jamboree. In attitude and execution, it's a little more laidback than Goodwood, but it's all about the on-track action, and that is always top shelf. www.mazdaraceway.com
37) No track celebrates its heritage like the Brickyard, so for its huge range of racecars alone, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is unmissable. Add in the “500” artifacts and the possibility of meeting Indy oracle Donald Davidson and it's an essential trip.
38) With the Ayrton Senna Collection as its stunning centerpiece, the Donington Collection is an unmatched array of Formula 1 cars, started by the late Tom Wheatcroft and housed at the Donington Park track in England. www.donington-park.co.uk/pages/motorsport-museum.html
39) While in the UK, head to Scotland and drop in on the Jim Clark Room at Duns in the Scottish Borders. Small and understated, it's all the more poignant and memorable because of it. A fine tribute to a driving great and a true gentleman. www.duns.bordernet.co.uk/local/clark.html
40) Phoenix, Ariz., should be your destination for the Penske Racing Museum, a compact, but concise tribute to the past and present of America's greatest team owner, Roger Penske. The cars on display are a gorgeous reminder of how much the Captain and his organization have dominated the American racing landscape for four decades. www.penskeracingmuseum.com
41) Now that the paint's dry, check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.. Sure, it has its moments of theme-park excess, but overall it's a fine and evocative tribute to the good ol' boys who turned a regional distraction into a national powerhouse. www.nascarhall.com
If you're going to Le Mans anyway, give yourself a treat and leave early. From Paris, head east to the superfast Reims
track where many prestigious races – including the French F1 Grand Prix – were held between 1925 and '69. Then travel northwest to Rouen
, a classic four-mile public road course, where Dan Gurney won the French GP in 1962 and '64. From Paris to Le Mans via Reims and Rouen is less than seven hours.
43) Go west and pay silent tribute to the Ontario Motor Speedway. For a few short years, it was California's answer to Indy. Now, it's buried under San Bernardino County's urban sprawl, with only the street names providing any clues. Ditto, Riverside Raceway itself.
44) Walk a defunct downtown street course. There are many. At one extreme, you could revel in the quaintness of Watkins Glen, raced on before they built the permanent course. At the other, piece together more recent efforts, like Sacramento, Phoenix, Dallas, Detroit or Des Moines, and imagine the grandeur of an F1 or Indy car pointing and squirting out of yet another 90-degree turn.
45) Hang part of a racecar on your living room wall – the bigger and more roadworn, the better. F1 or Indy car wings and endplates are cool enough. But something more substantial, like the whole nose section from a Porsche 962, would be even tastier.
46) Gather together a fearsome collection of classic race DVDs. Your call on what constitutes classic, but it must at least contain Grand Prix, Le Mans, Speed Merchants and Winning. By contrast, Driven is most definitely banned.
47) Frame and hang something signed by Mario, Moss or Gurney (or hero of your choice). Tank tops and bill caps not included.
48) Make a donation to the Team USA Scholarship program and maybe, just maybe, play a part in getting an American driver into Formula 1. www.teamusascholarship.org
49) Probably goes without saying, but take out an auto-renewal subscription to RACER magazine. www.racer.com/subscribe
50) We're leaving this one to you. Thing is, setting the limit at just 50, there are literally hundreds more we've either forgotten or been forced to leave out, and that's where you come in. What's on your personal racing bucket list? What life-affirming experiences have we been misguided enough to miss? Send in your additions, thoughts and admonishments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Editor.