Motorsports encompass a lot of specific leagues and types of racing. For those who simply love cars and want to see them performing at the highest level, the distinctions aren’t always important.
Any race, from NASCAR to Formula 1, can be an incredible treat. And as is the case with most leagues and sports, there are certain occasions that stand above the rest as being particular historic and, at this point, iconic. These are just a few of our tips on visiting some of the big ones in person if you ever get the chance to do so.
The Indianapolis 500, often shortened to “Indy 500,” is regarded by some as the most famous and most prestigious auto racing event in the world. Sometimes mistaken by non-fans as a NASCAR race, it’s actually part of the Verizon INDYCAR Series, which holds contests with open-cockpit Indy cars.
Its prestige is derived in part from its history, having been run annually since 1911, though it’s also noteworthy because of its massive crowd (up to 300,000 spectators), frequent dramatic races, and now unofficial status as part of the worldwide “Triple Crown” of racing (alongside the next two races we’ll mention here, incidentally).
Visiting the Indianapolis 500 means traveling to Indianapolis, Indiana, which is an almost surprisingly enjoyable city in the American Midwest. A clean and walkable city known for hosting the occasional Super Bowl or college basketball Final Four, it’s ideal for major events. Cozy hotels and restaurants with hearty American fare are easy to come across, and there are a few specific attractions as well. Most notably the Central Canal is a lovely 3-mile loop that flows by some of the main landmarks in the city (including the Indianapolis Zoo and the State Museum), and some visitors enjoy renting paddleboats or kayaks with which to drift along its length.
Monaco Grand Prix
A second Triple Crown event, and arguably the most internationally renowned of the bunch, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the permanent staples of the Formula 1 season. Typically held in late spring, it brings the best F1 drivers in the world to the gorgeous seaside streets of Monte Carlo. It’s one of the most unique and picturesque circuits in the world, and lends the city a festival-like atmosphere for a few days, such that the drama of the race always seems heightened, regardless of what actually happens between the drivers.
As for visiting, it’s hard to be in Monte Carlo without splurging a little bit on a hotel, but there are still some additional attractions to take in. Chief among them is one of the most legendary casinos in the world. You may have grown used to hearing about an online gaming takeover in the casino industry, and it’s true that there are dozens if not hundreds of new online casinos emerging each year, providing a convenience brick-and-mortar establishments can’t match. No convenience can offset the sheer opulence and movie-like quality of Casino de Monte Carlo though, such that even if you don’t play a single hand of poker, you have to see it. Aside from the casino you’ll want to try a few recommended restaurants, get a look at the local palace, and spend some time on Larvotto Beach.
24 Hours Of Le Mans
Rounding out the unofficial, international Triple Crown is 24 Hours Of Le Mans. And unlike the first two races mentioned here, it’s all about endurance rather than speed or power. Shockingly exactly what it sounds like, it’s a 24-hour race that places a heavy emphasis on mechanics and maintenance, as the cars have to last for 24 hours (which a majority of them tend to do). Held at Circuit de la Sarthe in the town of Le Mans, it’s been part of the FIA World Endurance Championship since 2012, though the race debuted originally way back in 1923. Naturally, attendance is a little bit different, for an event like this, but spectators still flock to the course year after year.
This race aside, Le Mans itself is not a particularly well-known French destination. But in a way that’s part of the fun for visiting. You can head to town to experience the race and in the meantime enjoy the fact that you’ll be just a couple of hours from several other popular destinations around the country. You can easily reach the Atlantic Coast in a short time, visit nearby national parks, and also see Versailles. Sometimes billed as a day trip from Paris, Versailles is only about two hours from Le Mans, which means you’re in close proximity to one of the most stunning man-made landmarks in all of Europe.
Guest post by Oscar Mason
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