The Definitive Bucket List of Automotive Destinations
Earlier this week, Andrew Comrie-Picard had a great piece on five cars to drive before you die. It got us thinking: there are automotive events and activities that are essential to take part in before you drive off to that big salvage yard in the sky. Here is our definitive list of car events/activities to attend. Being a participant would be quite the achievement, but for many of these events, just attending is worth the effort and travel to get there, providing you with a lifetime of memories. 24h of Le Mans:
No-brainer here. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the single most prestigious race in the world. Nothing compares to the stresses put on the drivers and cars over a 24-hour period, and the experience of attending this race is something worthy of the grand effort required to get there. Camping in the infield has been described as something close to attending an automotive Woodstock.
Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion:
Some may argue that the Pebble Beach Concours should be on this list, but what you really want is to see the vintage metal in motion. Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca is one of the great tracks in North America, and seeing a Ferrari 250 GTO negotiate turns 8 and 8A -- more commonly referred to as the “Corkscrew” -- is a sight that any true enthusiast must experience.
Goodwood Festival of Speed:
This car show of rare historic vehicles is held at the Goodwood House in West Sussex, England. The crown jewel event is the hill climb, where brand new supercars and actual Formula 1 racecars take to the same course as vintage racecars like the Porsche 917. Famous drivers -- both historic and current -- typically pilot the entrant vehicles on the hill climb. What more do you need to know?
The Dakar Rally should be on everybody's bucket list, too, especially now that it's been moved to the infinitely safer desert in Argentina. But it's a schlep, and the Baja 1000 is just next door. It's a non-stop, rolling party with breathtaking performances from some of the world's top off-road racers, hammering trucks, dune buggies, VW Beetles and motorcycles to their limits. At the very least, see Dust to Glory before you book your trip.
Lime Rock Historic Weekend:
There are more notable historic races, but few are as approachable and personable as Lime Rock Park on Labor Day weekend. Lime Rock is full-on racing on Saturday and Monday, divided by a Concours held along the track on Sunday. The way to do it is camp in the infield. You'll wake to the sound of Alfa Romeos passing by on the track, no more than 30 yards from your site. In all, it is a pretty special place and weekend.
Woodward Dream Cruise:
It’s the largest single-day car event, with 400,000 cars and an estimated 1.5 million in attendance. Cars of all kinds participate, but it's mostly classic American iron rolling down Woodward Avenue. It is the cruise night to end all cruise nights. Head on down the third Saturday and August and check it out for yourself. Best of all, it's free.
So you think you’re a better driver than all your friends because you can memorize your Vehicle Identification Number? Passion for driving only goes so far, and if you want to back up your garage trash-talk then learn to hone your driving skills at a school. Next week, I’ll be taking my skills to the next level at the Skip Barber Racing School and be chronicling my progress. I won’t become Mario Andretti overnight, but with any, luck this auto writer will have been enhanced with a few skills that will make me a safer driver - especially on the track.
A NASCAR Race:
Motorsport fans tend to fall into two groups: F1 fans and NASCAR fans. The former tends to look down on the racing interests of the latter, but you’d have to be a cadaver to not get riled up by the sounds of dozens of V8 engines rushing past. It is a sport where the most affordable seats are CLOSEST to the action. Oh yeah, and some of these tracks are BYOB. Does this sound like heaven? Yes– Yes, it does.
The Petersen Museum:
It is one of the world’s largest auto museums, with roughly 150 vehicles on display. It is a beautiful collection and a wonderful educational tool, inspiring future gearheads. Given that the current executive director has begun selling off some of the collection, you might want to go sooner than later.
Enter in a LeMons Race:
So you’ve gone to a racing school, and spent countless hours repairing and modifying cars. The next step is to race, but professional race teams require massive budgets. LeMons racing requires only a $500 car, a modest budget for safety equipment, and a team of friends who can give up a handful of weekends prepping a low-rent racecar. It's grassroots racing at its finest.
The Rubicon Trail:
If you off-road, this trail is a must. It is like Le Mans meets Baja, topped off with a whole assortment of unseen challenges. It will chew up seasoned drivers and advanced rock-crawling rigs. If you go slow, take your time, and have a co-pilot spot you through some of the worst bits, you and your rig just might make it to the other side of the 22 mile trail.
Image Credits: off-road.com, www.blouinartinfo.com, DavidMoorePhoto.com, and George Kennedy for Boldride