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Hooniverse’s Massively Oversized Guide to Motorsports, 2015

Eric Rood March 23, 2015 Featured, Motorsports 5 Comments

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Every week, Hooniverse gives you a simple weekly guide to the looming weekend in motorsport. Racing in those previews runs the gamut from the unobtainium-grade engineering of Formula 1 to the duct-tape-and-beer-can-aluminum garage necesseering of the 24 Hours of LeMons. However, in a quest to simplify those previews and create less work for the person who writes them by omitting explaining what each series is every week, we offer a guide to the racing series covered in the Motorsports Weekend Guide. Follow the jump for the Guide to our Weekly Guides.

It should be noted that this is not a definitive list, but it should capture the most important and/or interesting series that one may be able to follow in the U.S. or elsewhere. As this will post will be referred to and linked in every subsequent Motorsports Weekend Guide this year, consider this a living document with revisions and additions (which will be marked and dated) being instituted as necessary. So if there’s something missing from the list, let us know in the comments or via email and it will be added as long as it’s something of general interest to the Hooniverse at large.

Because this post is pushing the length of a novella, here is a Table of Contents with clickable jumps to the different categories of racing with the series listed below each ctegory.

Open Wheel Series

  • Formula 1
  • IndyCar
  • Formula E
  • AutoGP
  • Japanese Super Formula
  • World Series by Renault
  • Formula 3 European Championship
  • Euroformula Open
  • Brazilian Formula 3
  • Australian Drivers Championship (F3)
  • All-Japan Formula 3 Championship
  • SCCA Atlantics Championship

Stock and Silhouette Cars

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup
  • NASCAR Xfinity Series
  • NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series
  • NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West
  • ARCA Racing Series
  • NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
  • NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series
  • NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
  • V8 SuperCars Championship
  • DTM
  • Japanese Super GT
  • Trans Am Series
  • Brazilian V8 Stock Cars
  • Turismo Carretera

Drag Racing and Land Speed Chasing

  • NHRA
  • IHRA
  • FIA European Drag Racing Championship
  • Southern California Timing Association & Bonneville
  • East Coast Timina Association
  • The Texas Mile

Sports Cars and GT Racing

  • FIA World Endurance Championship
  • European Le Mans Series
  • TUDOR United SportsCar Championship
  • Asian Le Mans Series
  • Blancpain Endurance Series
  • Blancpain Sprint Series
  • Pirelli World Challenge
  • Hankook 24H Series
  • ADAC GT Masters
  • International GT Open
  • British GT Championship
  • Italian GT Championship
  • FFSA GT Championship
  • Australian GT Championship
  • Endurance Racing Championship
  • GT Asia
  • SuperTouring Series/Euro V8 Series
  • Dutch Supercar Challenge
  • African Endurance Series
  • One-make championships

Touring Cars

  • World Touring Car Championship
  • British Touring Car Championship
  • European Tourin Car Cup
  • TCR International Series
  • United State Touring Car Championship
  • Canadian Touring Car Championship
  • Scandinavian Touring Car Championship

Motorcycles

  • MotoGP
  • Superbike World Championship
  • MotoAmerica
  • British Superbikes

Off-Road: Long Distance and Point-to-Point

  • World Rally Championship
  • European Rally Championship
  • Rally America
  • Canadian Rally Championship
  • Dakar Rally
  • SCORE Off-Road Series
  • Mint 400
  • ULTRA4 Racing & King of the Hammers
  • FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies
  • Rainforest Challenge
  • Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
  • Climb to the Clouds/Mount Washington Hill Climb
  • FIA European Hill Climb Championship

Off-Road: Short-track and Closed Circuit

  • World RallyCross Championship
  • British RallyCross Championship
  • Red Bull Global RallyCross
  • Stadium Super Trucks
  • The Off-Road Championship (TORC)
  • Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS)

Truck Racing

  • European Truck Racing Championship
  • British Truck Racing Championship
  • Formula Truck
  • ChampTruck World Series

Club and Vintage Racing

  • SCCA Majors
  • SCCA Solo Nationals
  • SCCA RallyCross
  • NASA National Championships
  • NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship
  • Britcar 24
  • Historic Sportscar Racing & The Mitty
  • Sportscar Vintage Racing Association
  • Monterey Historics
  • Goodwood Hill Climb and Revival
  • BOSS GP

Crapcans

  • 24 Hours of LeMons

Totally Not Crapcans

  • ChumpCar World Series
  • World Racing League
  • American Endurance Racing

Other

  • Formula Drift
  • Global Time Attack
  • H1 Unlimited
  • Red Bull Air Races

 

 

 

OPEN WHEEL SERIES

At one time, open-wheel racecars were the archetype of the word “race car.” Colloquially known as “formula” cars in some parts of the world, they all share one thing in common: Unmistakable purpose. They tip the scales at well under a ton while also running with power approaching 1.5 pounds per horsepower in some cases. When added with complex aerodynamics, you’ll find these the most capable racecars around a racetrack.

 

Formula One 

Formula One is the very pinnacle of motor racing in the eyes of much of the world. The cars are spectacular road-racing instruments with some of the absolute best drivers in the world in the cockpits. The cars, which are high-level studies in aerodynamics powered by 1.8-liter V6 hybrid powerplants, race at finely manicured racing circuits all over the world. The racing can be a bit dry at times and a fiendish muppet lords over the series—which is worth billions of dollars—but these are the absolute fastest race cars around any road course. The precision of both the engineering and the drivers are both spectacularly worth the price of admission. The prestige event of the season is always the Monaco Grand Prix on the city’s winding, narrow, hilly streets.

2014 champion: Lewis Hamiltron/Mercedes
Feeder and support series: GP2, GP3, Formula Renault 3.5, Formula 3.
F1 Website

 

IndyCar Series

IndyCar is the top level of American open-wheel racing with some stellar race drivers piloting the 20-car field of Dallara chassis all over North America and with a single (canceled) date in Brazil. The two 2.2-liter V6 engine manufacturers, Chevy and Honda, will offer in 2015 for the first time custom bodywork whose effects bring a variable to the series this season. IndyCar currently produces some of the closest racing and, moreover, no other series in the world challenges drivers with such a varied schedule of big ovals, small ovals, street courses, and road courses. The season peaks in May with the Indianapolis 500 with a 33-car grid (the grid is normally around 20) and 200,000 fans packing Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

2014 champion: Will Power/Penske Racing
Feeder and support series: Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, GP3, GP2, Formula 3.
IndyCar Website 

 

Formula E

The Formula E season actually spans two calendar years, but the all-electric racing series is attempting to look toward motorsports’ future and capture a unique audience with single-day events in the middle of cities not renowned for racing fandom. Without super-sticky tires or massive aerodynamic aids, the racing has proven rather raw. You may dislike the lack of engine noise–the electric motors are virtually silent leaving only the whine of the drive gears–but the racing really has been entertaining in its inaugural season.

2014/2015 champion: Not yet named.
Feeder series: Any open-wheel racing series.
Formula E Website

 
AutoGP 

AutoGP is a mostly European open-wheel series that runs in support of several FIA series, like World Touring Car Championship, Blancpain GT Series, and DTM. The Lola B05/52 cars are a little long in the tooth, having originally been designed for the A1 Grand Prix series with a 550-horsepower Zytek V8. Nevertheless, this is still a perfectly entertaining second-tier formula series.

2014 champion: Kimiya Sato (Japan)
Feeder series: Formula 3 and other lower formula.
AutoGP Website

 

Japanese Super Formula

The pinnacle of Japanese single-seater racing produces some great racing and is the part-time gig of many top-level sports car racers. Formerly known as Formula Nippon, series weekends consist sometimes of two races, sometimes one. Cars run a spec Dallara chassis that was new in 2014 with power from either a Honda or a Toyota turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. The dates are almost all in Japan and the racing is close and carefully crafted by a number of first-rate drivers.

2014 champion: Kazuki Nakajima (Japan)
Feeder series: Formula 3, GP2
Super Formula Website 

 

World Series by Renault – Formula Renault 3.5 

Formula Renault is actually a series of formulae that make up regional championships, but the World Series by Renault brings the best drivers in the each of the categories. Formula Renault 3.5’s power level and competition present an alternative to the GP3 and GP2 feeders series for Formula 1, as evidenced by 2014 champion Carlos Sainz Jr. jumping to Toro Rosso in 2015. The top-class Formula Renault 3.5 cars run a 500+ horsepower V8 in the spec chassis and like many junior championships, a handful of drivers are almost always the class of the field.

2014 champion: Carlos Sainz, Jr. (Spain)
Feeder series: Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 1.6, Formula 3
WSBR Website

 

Formula 3 European Championship

As with Formula Renault, F3 is actually a series of regulations used by many national and regional championships. F3 cars run a 200-horsepower, stock-block engine on pump gas, making these a popular formula car for young drivers moving up from junior formula. The European Championship is the most important international F3 series and, like Formula Renault, Euro F3 driver Max Verstappen will be in an F1 car in 2015 as the youngest Formula 1 driver in history.

2014 champion: Esteban Ocon (France)
Feeder series: Lower formula like Formula Ford/Formula 1600 and/or karting.
F3 Euro Website

 

Euroformula Open Championship

The Euroformula series uses F3 formula and runs (usually) concurrently with International GT Open; both series are similar to a national F3 and GT series for Spain, where the series is based. Race weekends include two races each. Of interest, 2013 Euroformula Open champion Ed Jones will drive in Indy Lights next season while several other series champions have picked up 2015 rides in GP2 and GP3.

2014 champion: Sandy Stuvik (Thailand)
Feeder series: Lower formula like Formula Ford/Formula 1600 and/or karting.
Euroformula Open Website

 

Brazilian Formula Three Championship 

Brazil is still a hotbed of single-seater driving talent and the national F3 championship was revived in 2014 to stoke that fire. The series holds eight two-race rounds in Brazil and Pedro Piquet—son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet—absolutely dominated the 2014 title. He could be headed to Europe in 2015 to drive in the Formula 3 European Championship.

2014 champion: Pedro Piquet (Brazil)
Feeder series: Lower formula like Formula Ford/Formula 1600 and/or karting.
Brazilian F3 Website 

 

Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship 

Like most national F3 championships, Australian F3 is the fastest series in the country. Unlike most national F3 championships, some of the best drivers in the series have raced in it for many years without looking abroad for a faster ride. Some have scored drives in V8 Supercars or Australian GT, but 2014 champion Simon Hodge–who is only 20–was spectacular and could find international fame like former Australian Drivers Champions Will Power, Scott Dixon, and David Brabham.

2014 champion: Simon Hodge (Australia)
Feeder series: Lower formula like Formula Ford/Formula 1600 and/or karting.
Australian F3 Website

 

All-Japan Formula 3 Championship 

Like the bigger Japanese Super Formula and Super GT series, Japanese F3 draws some serious competition from outside the country. The list of former Japanese F3 champions includes heavyweight names like Tom Kristensen (Mr. Le Mans), Benoit Treluyer, Adrian Sutil, Michael Krumm, and Pedro De la Rosa. However, the last five champions have all been from Japan and most of the field these days are Japanese as the country again is crafting outstanding drivers.

2014 champion: Nobuharu Matsushida (Japan)
Feeder series: Lower formula like Formula Ford/Formula 1600 and/or karting.
Japanese F3 Website

 

Atlantics Championship Series

The Atlantics Championship is not unlike F3 with 2.0-liter Toyota engines powering the open-wheeled car, but the series’ existence under the SCCA Pro Racing banner means that the field is a mix of up-and-coming drivers and veteran racers who want to go as fast as an amateur racer can. The series is regional to the East of the U.S.

2014 champion: Daniel Burkett (Canada)
Feeder series: F2000 and F1600.
Atlantics Website

 

STOCK AND SILHOUETTE CARS

The biggest racing in America at one time was open-wheel racing, buoyed by the Indianapolis 500. Today, American stock cars dominate American racing coverage and fandom. However, the idea of a “silhouette” racing car is nothing new or unique to the U.S.; several international series also race tubeframe cars with body panels added to make them appear superficially like street cars from the same manufacturers.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

Outside of F1, NASCAR’s top competitive series is the biggest racing series in the world, a marketing steamroller that also happens to host races 36 times a year around the U.S. The series runs primarily on ovals and while the marketing machine panders to the lowest common denominator in a lot of cases, the racing can be surprisingly good and complex. The championship is determined in a playoff-style elimination called The Chase. Races throughout the season tend run up to 600 miles with 43-car grids, meaning kerfuffles are common enough and big wrecks are just part of the gamble. The big season-opening Daytona 500 has already come and gone the series now holds more than 30 races over the next eight months.

2014 champion: Kevin Harvick
Feeder series: NASCAR Xfinity, NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series.
Sprint Cup Website

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

NASCAR’s lower Xfinity Series (formerly the Nationwide Series) resembles Sprint Cup in almost every way, racing almost entirely on ovals (with two road course races). However, unlike the Sprint Cup cars, the Xfinity cars still run carbureted V8s and the championship is based on points only. Most Sprint Cup drivers climbed the ladder through NASCAR’s system, driving through the Xfinity/Nationwide series first. In fact, many more Sprint Cup drivers will drive in both series when they share a weekend.

2014 champion: Chase Elliott
Feeder series: NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West, ARCA Racing Series.
Xfinity Series Website

 

NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series

The pickup trucks in the series are really only trucks in silhouette; like every other stock car series we’ll mention, the trucks are simple tubeframe machines. Like the higher NASCAR series, the Camping World Trucks race almost entirely ovals with one exception at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, which has produced stellar racing in the past. The season’s highlight has quickly become the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway’s clay half-mile oval.

2014 champion: Matt Crafton.
CWTS Website

 

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West

I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but the K&N development series both run a schedule comprised almost entirely of ovals with a road course or two a piece. This is where young guns take their first steps in the big-bodied NASCAR stock cars and the K&N Series, along with the ARCA Racing Series, will get a new chassis and new engine in 2015. The races are seldom televised, but if you can catch one, you’ll be watching NASCAR’s future.

2014 champion: Ben Rhodes (East) and Greg Pursley (West)
K&N East Website, K&N West Website

 

ARCA Racing Series 

The Automobile Racing Club of America brings with them, like NASCAR, an oval-heavy schedule. However, the Midwest-based stock car series tack on a road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park but, more impressively, they run a whole bevy of ovals from Daytona to tiny Berlin Raceway to the Illinois State Fairgrounds’ one-mile dirt oval. The competitors range from young phenoms trying to take an alternate route to NASCAR’s pro ranks to veteran stock car drivers. 

2014 champion: Mason Mitchell
ARCA Website

 

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series

NASCAR’s sanctioning extends beyond the Unites States with three international series. The Canadian Tire Series run, as you might expect, in Canada. The races are an interesting mix of short (smaller than half-mile) ovals and road courses, including the only NASCAR race in the world at a temporary street circuit, the Trois-Rivieres circuit that historically has hosted Trans Am, Can Am, ALMS, and Grand-Am. 

2014 champion: L.P. Dumoulin
CTS Website 

 

NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series

NASCAR also maintains a series south of the border. Well, mostly south of it; the Toyota Series opens its season at Phoenix supporting Sprint Cup. With one exception, the series runs entirely ovals and most of them are one-mile circuits. The cars are considerably smaller than other American NASCAR series, weighing in at 2,600 pounds (a half-ton less than a Sprint Cup car) and with a simple, 400-horsepower V8 providing power.

2014 champion: Abraham Calderon
Toyota Mexico Website

 

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

Europe even has its own NASCAR series, a road-course-heavy schedule run with cars similar in size and power to the Mexico Series. Gone from the calendar in 2015, however, are dates at Nurburgring and Le Mans, replaced with Netherlands’ high-banked short oval at Venray and Autodromo dell’ Umbria in Italy. The racing is divided into two classifications, Elite 1 and Elite 2, that run separately with the Elite 2 drivers graduating to Elite 1 eventually. You’ll find Whelen Euro Series is often accompanied by a Americana overtones; the United Kingdom date runs as part of American SpeedFest, a sort of freak show of American motoring.

2014 champion: Anthony Kumpen (Elite 1) and Maxime Dumarey (Elite 2)
Feeder series: Any and all kinds of European racing.
WES Website

 

V8 Supercars Championship

While Australia’s V8 Supercars are often considered touring cars, their tubeframe construction merits classification with American stock cars. Unlike NASCAR, however, the road-racing-only V8s have long run fuel injected engines and water-cooled brakes to contend with their cars’ considerable heft. The series looms on the brink of many changes, including turbocharged V6 engines (and a subsequent rebranding of the series name) and major changes to its TV deal. The racing tends to be intense and often door-banging on the race courses, of which several are spectacular street circuits. Most race weekends are divided into a three races, although the three-weekend Pirtek Endurance Championship features three long races, including the crown jewel of V8 Supercars, the Bathurst 1000 km on the incredible Mount Panorama Circuit.

2014 champion: Jamie Whincup
Feeder series: Dunlop Development Series. V8 Utes Championship. Touring Car Masters. Aussie Racing Cars.
V8S Website

 

DTM

Like the V8 Supercars, Germany’s premier tin-top racing is usually considered touring car racing (the “T” stands for “Touring”), but these cars really fall somewhere between a Le Mans Prototype and a tubeframe stock car with a carbon fiber tub at its base and a rollcage structure making up much of the remaining chassis. Regardless, the V8-powered national series brings a heavy dose of tactics and pitwork to the fore with cars having to use both a standard and a softer option tire during races and with three-second tire changes putting a premium on pitcrew execution. The driving is usually F1-precise, which is no surprise when former F1 drivers usually take up a grid spot or three.

2014 champion: Marco Wittman
Feeder series: Everything from touring cars to Formula 1.
DTM Website

 

Japanese Super GT

Super GT runs two classes, GT500 and GT300. The top GT500 cars share a chassis design with DTM, but instead of V8s, the Super GT cars run turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The lower GT300 class is a mix of FIA GT3 cars and series-specific tubeframe cars that actually compete pretty evenly. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are all heavily invested in the series with many drivers running both Super GT and Super Formula. Each car has a driver pairing with a driver change required in the middle of each race, adding a sports car-like element to the racing.

2014 champion: Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli (GT500) and Tatsuya Kataoka/Nobutero Taniguchi (GT300)
Feeder series: As with DTM, everything from domestic open-wheelers to European tin-tops.
Super GT Website

 

Trans-Am Series

Trans-Am is, of course, the continuation of the famed American road-racing series started in the late 1960s. The basic idea of the racing remains the same–Big American V8s and big rubber on road courses–but the cars are now tube-framed beasts not unlike NASCAR chassis running in three classes. The Top TA1 class cars spit 900 horsepower out of their carbureted V8s while the TA2 cars almost all run the same Howe chassis with current pony-car bodywork from The Big Three. Trans-Am runs two races as a support series with NASCAR Xfinity and shares weekends with vintage racing in several instances, but it often runs standalone events.

2014 champion: Doug Peterson (TA1), Cameron Lawrence (TA2), Jason Berkely (TA3I), and Ernie Francis, Jr. (TA3A).
Feeder series: Club racing, mostly, but drivers come from all walks of road racing.
Trans Am Website

 

 

Stock Car Brasil

Brasil’s top racing series has a lot in common with V8 SuperCars, running tubeframe silhouette versions of the Chevy Sonic and the Peugeot 408 powered by thundering V8s on road courses. And again like V8S, the racing can be spectacular and aggressive on the country’s several race tracks. The driver rosters are mostly Stock Car specialists like five-time champion Caca Bueno, but retired Brazilian Formula 1 drivers Rubens Barrichello (the 2014 champion) and Ricardo Zonta grace the field with some international star power.

2014 champion: Rubens Barrichello
SC Brasil Website

 

Turismo Carretera

Argentina’s own stock car (again, called “touring cars” in many places) are an interesting curiosity in the stock-car world. The bodies on the tubeframe cars look, to be kind, awkward and the engines are old American designs that include old Ford, Chevy, and AMC/Jeep straight sixes. The cars themselves are supposed to be 1970s Argentine imports of the Ford Falcon, Chevy SS, Dodge Polara, and the IKA-Renault Torino, of all things. It’s a strange world to those outside the country, but it’s hard to argue with 33-car grids and, ultimately, highly entertaining racing. Interestingly, Turismo Carretera is the longest-running racing series under a single sanctioning body, having crowned its first champion in 1939 (Juan Manual Fangio won the next two).

2014 champion: Matias Rossi
Turismo Carretera Website

 

NHRA photo

NHRA photo

DRAG RACING AND LAND-SPEED RACING

In the pantheon of motorsports, no form of racing spends so much time to prepare for such short time at full-tilt as drag racing. In its fastest forms, a weekend winner can carry away a trophy for less than a minute of open-throttle work. Nevertheless, the racing is undiluted, physics-ending horsepower and intensely exciting in its precision mixed with raw, face-melting power. Drag racing’s kissing cousin in the hot rodding is land-speed racing, wherein hot rodders take their streamlined machines out into the desert or to the salt flats or to an airport to see just how fast they can be over a longer distance.

 

NHRA 

The National Hot Rod Association is the standard for drag racing, a long-running sanctioning body that trades in seven-second (or much shorter) races. Cars’ power levels are measured in thousands of horsepower and when every thousandth of a second counts, hundredth-second reaction times to the starting lights matter all the more. The NHRA sanctions drag racing at all levels, but the four pro classes of the Mello Yello Series are the ones that garner the most attention and coverage. Races are bracket drags, meaning the elimination rounds play out like a big tournament.

2014 champion: Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock), Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle)
NHRA Website

 

IHRA 

The International Hot Rod Association is recovering from several changes of ownership in the last 20 years, but their significant presence and popularity at the PRI Show last December showed the IHRA is making a concerted effort to regain popularity for its drag racing show. The series’ prime support comes from the fact that it owns most of the dragways where it races, including hosting events in Canada and Aruba (hence the “international”). The IHRA offers an alternative playground to the NHRA and while the classes may not be quite as out-and-out fast, the difference between a three-second run and a four-second run matters little when there’s ample noise and bombast.

2014 champion: Mike Koontz (Top Sportsman), Keven Brannon (Top Dragster), Scotty Stillings (Super Stock), Jimmie Hutto (Stock).
IHRA Website

FIA European Drag Racing

Yes, the FIA sanctions drag racing in Europe, although it is almost exclusively the territory of the British and Scandinavians, places where there’s still a modicum of American hot rod culture. Several European Drag Racers also ply their trade in the U.S. so there’s no dearth of talent, although the fields aren’t nearly as deep as they are in America. The big spot is Santa Pod Raceway in England, which was Europe’s first permanent drag strip, built in 1966 on an old Royal Air Force airfield.

2014 champion: Thomas Naatas (Top Fuel), Mattias Wulcan (Pro Modified), Jimm Alund (Pro Stock), Johan Lindberg (Top Methanol Funny Car), Chris Polidano (Top Methanol Dragster)
FIA European Drag Racing Website

 

SCTA/Bonneville 

The Southern California Timing Association boasts its proving grounds at El Mirage and, more famously, Bonneville’s Salt Flats. There, builders run their cars, aerodynamically smoothed and hot-rodded, to the very limits on the dry lake beds over runs several miles long. The basic tenets are similar to drag racing (Extract gobs of horsepower from the engine), but the power levels are slightly lower since the engine must run a few minutes at a time instead of a few seconds.

SCTA Website

 

ECTA

The country’s eastern half is devoid of dry lake beds, which means that top-speed runs for the East Coast Timing Association are done at the Ohio Mile on a wide runway. The distance run is far shorter than the several-mile courses in the West, which keeps top-speeds a bit lower, although cars regularly blow past 200 miles per hour from a standing start.

ECTA Website

 

Texas Mile 

The Texas Mile has drawn considerably more attention in recent years with more speed junkies vying for records in the heart of Texas and also for several intense 200 mile-per-hour wrecks. Like the Ohio Mile, the Texas Mile runs a few times a year.

Texas Mile Website

 

Sports Cars and GT Racing

Sports car racing draws its roots from endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it comes in many forms today. Generally, there are two categories of sports racers: prototypes (which have no road-car analogue) and grand tourers (abbreviated GT, these are based on road cars, although usually highly adapted for racing). Each of those can be subdivided, but we’ll leave the hair-splitting for another day. Modern sports car racing includes both endurance and sprint formats and GT racing (GT3-regulation racing, especially) is growing like crazy.

 

World Endurance Championship

The FIA’s WEC is the grandaddy of all sports car racing, hosting the Automobil Club d’Ouest (ACO) 24 Hours of Le Mans and also a full schedule of six-hour races. The multiclass racing features the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) category, which may very well be the zenith of motorsports ingenuity in the world with four major manufacturers (Audi, Toyota, Porsche, and Nissan) running thousand-horsepower hybrids in 2015. Manufacturers also compete in the GTE-PRO class while the LMP2 and GTE-AM classes feature a mix of professional and “gentleman” drivers, generally running for private teams.

2014 champion: Anthony Davidson/Sebastien Buemi (LMP1), Sergey Zlobin (LMP2), Gianmaria Bruni/Toni Vilander (GTE-PRO), Kristian Poulsen/David Heinemeier Hansson (GTE-AM)
WEC Website

 

European Le Mans Series 

The ACO oversees the ELMS, as well, which omits the LMP1 class with the LMP2-category cars instead at the front of the field. There are also two GT classes with the LMGTE cars and the pro-am GTC class. While the WEC’s LMP2 field waxes and wanes, the ELMS seems to draw a deeper field of the prototypes without having to worry about faster LMP1 cars. The ELMS runs four-hour races and, incredibly, the series saw five different overall winners in five 2014 races.

2014 champion: Paul Loup-Chatin/Nelson Panciatici/Olivier Pla (LMP2), Andrea Bertolini/Sergey Zlobin/Viktor Shaitar (LMGTE), Anton Ladygin/David Markozov/Olivier Beretta (GTC)
ELMS Website

 

Tudor United Sports Car Series

The United States’ top sports car series vaguely mirrors those of the WEC and ELMS with multiclass racing split between prototypes and GT cars. The top Prototype class smooshed  together the former American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am Series with LMP2-spec cars racing Grand-Am’s Group C-inspired Daytona Prototypes. The GTLM category features cars that can more or less run in GTE-PRO at Le Mans and a few—notably Corvette Racing—will do so. LMPC is a spec prototype car using Chevy LS engines and a pro-am driver lineup while GTD is a class unique in the world of GT racing. Races are mostly around three hours except the North American Endurance Championship, a four-race sub-series that includes the prestigious 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Six Hours of Watkins Glen, and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

2014 champion: Joao Barbosa/Christian Fittipaldi (Prototype), Jon Bennett/Colin Braun (PC), Kuno Wittmer (GTLM), Dane Cameron (GTD).
Support series: Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Cooper Prototype Lites, Porsche GT3 Cup USA.
TUSC Website

 

Asian Le Mans Series

The ACO’s Asian series with rules somewhat similar to the ELMS has largely failed to gain traction, running most of the 2014 season with fewer than 10 entries. The allure of a guaranteed Le Mans entry for the series champion is apparently not a major motivator. Howerver, to help recover the series, the ACO has regained control of it and will race an abbreviated three-race schedule in 2015 with a revised class structure as a means of re-launching the series.

2014 champion: David Cheng (LMP2), Naoki Yokomizo/Akira Iida/Shogo Mitsuyama (GTE), Andrea Bertolini/Michele Rugolo/Steve Wyatt (GTC)
AsLMS Website

 

Blancpain Endurance Series

Stephane Ratel’s Blancpain GT series has become one of the recent success stories in motorsports, capitalizing on the growing popularity of the FIA’s GT3-spec cars. The Blancpain Endurance Series mostly runs three-hour races, except the marquis Total 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps. While the cars are all GT3, the racing is divvied up into three classes depending on the driver pairings: All-pro lineups race in the Pro class, a pair with one amateur run in the Pro-Am, and an all-amateur pair race for the Gentleman’s Trophy.

2014 champion: Laurens Vanthoor (PRO), Andrea Rizzoli/Stefano Gai (Pro-Am), Peter Mann/Francisco Guedes (Gentleman)
BES Website

 

Blancpain Sprint Series

Having arisen from the FIA GT Championship, the Sprint Series uses GT3-spec cars like its endurance-racing cousin and also includes three similar classes. The races, however, are one-hour sprints with a mandatory driver change during the middle 10 minutes.

2014 champion: Maximillian Gotz (Pro), Marc Basseng/Alessandro Latif (Pro-Am), Vincent Abril/Mateusz Lisowski (Silver Cup)
BSS Website

 

Pirelli World Challenge 

The SCCA’s World Challenge has been around for a quarter of a decade, but the series experienced a huge boom last year by simultaneously allowing GT3 entries, by simply offering an alternative to the United SportsCar Championship, and by offering free livestreaming of the races. This season sees PWC taking several huge steps: the addition of the GT-Cup class for Porsche GT3 Cup cars, the division of the classes in racing, TV coverage for all classes, several standalone events, and extraordinary numbers in the GT class. Races run around an hour with no driver changes or pit stops to simplify the pitlane logistics when World Challenge is a support series.

2014 champion: Johnny O’Connell (GT), Michael Mills (GT-A), Lawson Aschenbach (GTS), Michael DiMeo (TC), Jason Wolfe (TCA), Brian Price (TCB)
PWC Website

 

Hankook 24H Series

The Creventic-owned series is yet another indicator of GT racing’s strength with the Hankook Series’ banner Dubai 24 Hours drawing a field of 90 cars, more than half of which are GT3, GT4, and Porsche Cup Cars. After several years running more or less bespoke endurance races of 12 hours or more, the 24H Series is an official championship for the first time in 2015. The biggest factor in the series’ growth has been free Webcasts of the races and the chance to see cars of greatly varying performance sharing the track.

2014 champion: Not a championship in 2014.
24H Series Website

 

ADAC GT Masters

Germany’s national motoring association, ADAC, also sponsors racing, which includes everything from F3 cars to historics. However, the GT Masters racing is the premium event, hosting GT3-spec racing as a de facto national GT series (one of many such national GT championships). The racing sees packed fields in the sprint races, which are similar to the Blancpain model with mandatory driver changes.

2014 champion: Kelvin Van Der Linde/Rene Rast
GT Masters Website

 

International GT Open

International GT Open has grown out of the Spanish GT Championship to hold rounds throughout Europe. Weekends include two races with a mandatory driver change in the midle of each. Each driver change has a minimum stop time and “performance balancing” is accomplished by adding to the stop times of round winners. The cars are an interesting mix of GT machinery with old GT2 and modified GT3 cars in the top class while slower, older GT3 cars populate the lower class, which is still often competitive for the overall podium. Most weekends are shared with the Euroformula Open F3 series.

2014 champion: Roman Mavlanov/Daniel Zampieri (GT) and Giorgio Roda (GTS)
GT Open Website

 

British GT Championship

Several European countries run their own national GT series and the British GT has seen growing fields in recent years, including entries from the Isles’ own Bentley with the Continental GT3. Race weekends see two hours of racing with either a pair of one-hour races or a single two-hour race. The racing includes three classes for GT3, GT4, and GT Challenge (cars from one-make series like Ferrari Challenge or Porsche Cup). The drivers aren’t always household names, but you’ll likely see them popping up as additional drivers at longer GT events like the Spa 24 Hours and Dubai 24 Hours.

2014 champion: Michael Caine/Daniele Perfetti (GT3), Warren Hughes/Jody Fannin (GT4), Ryan Hooker/Gary Eastwood (GTC).
British GT Website

 

Italian GT

Italy’s national GT series is, as one might imagine, heavy on the Ferrari 458 GT3 cars, although an Audi R8 LMS GT3 nearly stole the 2014 championship. Races are 48 minutes long with a mandatory driver change, a pretty typical setup for short-distance GT races in case you haven’t figured that out by now. The drivers are, as one might imagine, mostly Italian, but among them are occasional appearances by sports car heavyweights like Rinaldo “Dindo” Capello and Matteo Malucelli.

2014 champion: Raffaele Giammaria/Lorenzo Case (GT3), Omar Galbiati (GT Cup 1st Division), Gianni Giudici (GT Cup 2nd Division)
Italian GT Website

 

FFSA GT Championship

Like the German ADAC GT Masters series, the French national GT series is sanctioned by the national automobile association, the FFSA. This is yet another series with a one-hour race and mandatory driver change. However, the French GT grids are full only of GT3 cars; the drivers are perhaps unknowns to American audiences, but regulars to the larger sports car series above will recognize names like Nicolas Armindo, Raymond Narac, and Enzo Ide to say nothing of factory Audi LMP1 drivers Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer keeping themselves occupied there on occasion.

2014 champion: Henry Hassid/Anthony Beltoise
FFSA GT Website

 

Australian GT Championship

The Australian national GT series is a bit odd compared with its European counterparts; the series on its own website proclaims that its primary purpose is not driver development but rather to cater to privateers looking to compete in high-performance cars. Race formats vary in length and in number of drivers and the racing comes in four classes with Championship running GT3 cars, Trophy running older GT3 cars, Challenge running GT cars that don’t fall into either category (mostly one-make series cars), and Sports running GT4-spec cars.

2014 champion: Richard Muscat (Championship), Rod Salmon (Trophy), Ben Foesel (Challenge), and Mark Griffith (Sports).
Aussie GT Website

 

Endurance Racing Series

The five-round, Britain-only ERC debuts this season in April at Rockingham. With a mix of three-hour and two-hour races, it provides an alternative to the full British GT grids. The top classes are for GT3 and one-make GT series like Ferrari Challenge or Ginetta Supercup, but production cars can also run in the lower classes.

ERC Website

 

GT Asia

Asia (outside of Japan) is a burgeoning market for racing and GT racing has started to make real inroads there. While the Asian Le Mans Series has struggled, GT Asia has drawn 20-car fields for their 40- or 50-minute races. These races have a compulsory stop and driver change and the racing comes in two classes: GT3 and GTM, which is basically a class homologated by the series. The final race of the championship is held on the narrow streets of Macau at the Macau Grand Prix.

2014 champion: Weng Soon Muk
GT Asia Website

 

Dutch Supercar Challenge

The Dutch tin-top racing series feature seven classes of racing with GT3s in the top Super GT and GT classes down to touring-car classes, though they don’t all share the track at the same time. Additionally, the championship also includes a Superlites class with CN-style prototypes, which are common in European hill climbs. Races are 45 to 60 minutes with mandatory stops and driver changes with performance balancing with time added to mandatory stops.

2014 champion: Roger Grouwels/Arjan van der Swan/Robert de Graff (Super GT), Patrick Glabeke/Frederique Jonckheere (GT), Max Koebolt (GTB), Cor Euser (Supersport), Dennis Breast/Martin de Kleijn (Sports), Henk Home (Super Light 1), Carlo Kuijer (Super Light 2).
Dutch Supercar Website

 

African Endurance Series

The series’ name is perhaps a bit misleading; all six rounds of this new series are held in South Africa. Not only are the races a bit of everything (from one-hour sprints to a nine-hour season finale), but the entries include many prototype-style sports racers from old 1970s SCCA cars to LMP2 cars and some GT and touring-car style entries, to boot.

AES Website

 

One-make championships: Porsche Carrera Cup, Ferarri Challenge, Maserati Trofeo, Aston Martin GT4 Challenge, Ginetta Supercup, etc.

A number of manufacturers maintain regional one-make championships with Porsche’s Carrera Cup leading the way with 19 different series using Porsche 911s. These serve a couple of purposes: They allow non-professional drivers the chance to compete at big race weekends in a support series and they also can serve as development series for young, aspiring sports car pilots.

 

 

TOURING CARS

Ah touring cars. These beauties look, at least with a bit of squinting, just like a low-to-mid-tier passenger car. And in fact, nearly all touring cars come off the factory production floor, although the race shops immediately strip the chassis down to a body-in-white before turning them into snarling (usually front-wheel-drive) racecars. Touring-car pros tend not to shy away from the occasional paint trading.

FIA World Touring Car Championship 

In the world of “Win Sunday, Sell Monday,” no racing is probably quite as close to road cars as touring cars and the WTCC is the FIA’s only world championship for touring cars. Regulations limit cars to a production-based 2.0-liter engine in a production chassis (obviously torn down to a bare shell by race teams). The end result are cars that make 250 or so horsepower and, with a bit of bumping and knocking, race each other hard. In the recent past, one manufacturer has maintained run of the series. For many years, it was Chevy and last year saw Citroen’s debut with the make dominating. This year, Citroen return with a factory effort while Sebastien Loeb will enter his own Citroens as a privateer.

2014 champion: Jose Maria Lopez (Overall) and Franz Engstler (Yokohama Trophy)
WTCC Website

 

Dunlop British Touring Car Championship

If the WTCC is predictably dominated by one team, the BTCC is its polar opposite: Until the checkered flag, the entire field is in flux. Colin Turkington won the 2014 championship in a privateer BMW entry, but the various Hondas and even MGs are always in contention. The racing is close not only because of the similar performance of cars but also because argy-bargy always looms at every corner. This is “physical” racing and a good spectacle.

2014 champion: Colin Turkington
BTCC Website

 

FIA European Touring Car Cup

Like the European Rally Championship, the ETCC serves as a proving ground and feeder series for the FIA’s related world championship. Four of the five ETCC rounds are spent in support of the WTCC with the final round at Pergusa in Italy the sole exception. The ETCC regulations are governed by the Super 2000 ruleset, which confusingly cap engine displacement at a maximum of 1.6 liters with a turbocharger.

2014 champion: Nikolay Karamyshev (TC2 Turbo), Petr Fulin (TC2), Gilles Bruckner (Super 1600), Dmitry Bragin (Single Make)
ETCC Website

 

TCR International

While the top classes of FIA-sanctioned racing run to a 2.0-liter engine formula that has favored bank-rolling manufacturers, the new TCR regulations seek to return touring cars to an affordable form of racing. The FIA passed on adopting this formula, so TCR’s backers have launched their own international championship that kicks off this year in support of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

TCR Website

 

United States Touring Car Championship

The USTCC runs concurrently with the National Auto Sport Association with regulations that fall somewhere between short-distance GT racing and touring cars. The races require a driver change, like GT races, but they also are short distance and feature (modified) four-seat production cars. Some weekends feature two races while others are a single, longer race. Of note, the USTCC will allow cars running to TCR regulations this season.

2014 champion: Ali Arsham/Gary Sheehan
USTCC Website

 

Canadian Touring Car Championship

Like the USTCC, the Canadian championship includes some kind of mash-up between GT racing and touring cars, but the CTCC usually supports a variety of other Canadian series, from the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series to the open-wheel Canadian F1600 Championship. The racing has featured Touring Car (for cars with little modification) and Super Touring classes in the past and will add a Grand Touring (GT) class for 2015.

2014 champion: Roger Ledoux (Super Touring) and Michael Sallenbach (Touring Car).
CTCC Website

 

Scandinavian Touring Car Championship

Hooniverse has a relatively large Scandinavian following, so here’s the Swedish championship. It grew out of the Swedish Touring Car Championship and features only Swedish tracks and teams so I’m not positive where the rest of the “Scandinavian” in the name comes from. Nevertheless, the STCC’s main series includes an interesting mix of cars like the factory Volvo S60 Polestar, Saab 9-3s, BMWs, Kia Optimas, and a Dacia. STCC weekends also feature the supporting V8 ThunderCars series, which is ideally comprised of the Big Three’s current pony car offerings, although last year’s lineup was almost entirely Chevy Camaros.

2014 champion: Thed Björk
STCC Website

 

MotoGP photo

MotoGP photo

MOTORCYCLE

Motorcycle road racing: Half the wheels of car racing, twice the skill. There are other forms of two-wheel racing, but for the purposes of this weighty volume, we’ll keep it to road racing. Motorcycle racing demands much of its riders physically; seldom do competitors race a high level beyond their early 30s. Injuries remain relatively common, even with modern road racing circuits generally well-equipped safety-wise for riders discarded from their machines.

MotoGP

MotoGp is the pinnacle of two-wheel circuit racing in the world, analogous in many respects to Formula One for cars. The bikes are at the extreme performance end of the motorcycle spectrum, limited primarily by maximum engine displacement (1000cc) and minimum weight (160 kg for 1000cc bikes, 150 kg for 800cc bikes). Very little of the elements—probably none of them, actually—are common to road bikes, making this essentially prototype racing. Spanish riders tend to dominate the championship with young Spanish phenom Marc Marquez winning 14 of 18 grands prix (including the first 12 to open the year) last year on the way to his first title for Honda. Last year’s runner-up was the ageless Valentino Rossi, a six-time world champion who nabbed two stunning victories last year at the ripe riding age of 35. MotoGP travels with its own pair of support series, Moto2 and Moto3. Moto2 bikes run a spec Honda 600cc engine while Moto3 are single-cylinder, 250cc bikes. Last year’s Moto3 was Alex Marquez, whose big brother also won the top series’ title.

2014 champion: Marc Marquez
Feeder series: Moto2, Moto3.
MotoGP Website

 

Superbike World Championship 

Superbike racing, in general, uses homologated road bikes as the basis for competition, although racers are allowed some liberties in rendering the motorcycles more raceworthy. There are a number of national Superbike series, but the World Championship is, well, a world championship. Last year’s winner, Sylvain Guintoli, stole the championship with a two-race sweep of the season’s final weekend, earning just enough points to squeak past Tom Sykes, who had held the championship lead for most of the season.

2014 champion: Sylvain Giuntoli
Feeder series: Supersport World Championship, FIM Superstock 1000 World Championship, European Superstock 600 Championship.
WSBK Website

 

MotoAmerica

After several years of NASCAR ownership of American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Pro Road Racing into the ground, American two-wheeled road racing gets a reboot in 2015. At MotoAmerica’s helm is Wayne Rainey, triple world champion on 500cc bikes in the early 1990s, and the series will be sanctioned both by the AMA and FIM (the FIA’s motorcycle analogue). The rules and classes are the same as those in the FIM’s Superbike World Championship with an additional spec support series, the KTM RC390 Cup, for junior-level (14 to 22) competitors. The series debuts at Circuit of the Americas in April as support for MotoGP.

2014 champion: None. New series.
Feeder series: Superstock 1000, Supersport, Superstock 600, and KTM RC390 Cup.
MotoAmerica Website

 

British Superbike Championship

The United Kingdom holds its own national motorcycle championship using Superbikes classing. There’s not much else to add, other than this series is generally easy to keep track of if you can keep up since the commentary is all English. We’ve also covered BSB here occasionally here.

2014 champion: Shane “Shakey” Byrne
Feeder series: British Supersport Evo, Superstock 1000 National Championship, Superstock 600 National Championship, Motostar British Championship, KTM RC Cup, Ducati Cup, British Sidecar Championship.
BSBK Website

 

OFF-ROAD: STAGE/LONG DISTANCE/POINT-TO-POINT

This is a broad category that probably contradicts itself in some ways, but in many cases, drivers jump from one form of this racing to another with ease and frequency. Stage rally remains most popular in Europe, which is also true of hill climbs (although most of those are paved and the biggest one is in the U.S.). If you’ve never seen either somehow, onboard video will make you believe that the best (or at least craziest) drivers test their mettle in rally and hill climbs. Rally raids are like super-long-distance stage rally, usually conducted with more robust vehicles, although most also have motorcycle and quad-bike classes.

FIA World Rally Championship

This is the top of the rallying world with purpose-built turbocharged compact cars spitting out 300 crackling horsepower through all four wheels on rallies that run the gamut from dusty desert mountain roads to serpentine asphalt to gravel-covered forest stages. Modern rally cars anymore run similar stage times to the bonkers Group B cars of the 1980s, except they do so with more refinement and manners. Nevertheless, the racing is often seat-of-the-pants and still plenty hairy. The marquis rallies include Rallye Monte Carlo (with the epic Cul de Turini stage) and the absolutely insane Rally Finland, where cars have to survive massive jumps on narrow Scandinavian(-ish) roads. The support series run concurrently with the main WRC competitors.

2014 champion: Sebastien Ogier
Feeder series: WRC2, WRC3, WRC Jr.
WRC Website

 

FIA European Rally Championship

The ERC carries plenty of off-road credential on its own merit, although the WRC frequently cherry-picks successful young ERC drivers rather than pulling them from its own support series. The European series runs several of its own famous spectacular rallies like the Cyprus Rally and Rally Azores with its amazing vistas. There’s also space for privateers and regional entrants on many of the ERC entry lists.

2014 champion: Esapekka Lappi
Feeder series: ERC Junior.
ERC Website

 

Rally America 

Unlike the ERC where there are factory-backed efforts, Rally America’s field are almost entirely privateers and while superstars Ken Block and Travis Pastrana occasionally run in RA events, the real (and perhaps only) big star of the series is British driver David Higgins. That leaves lots of space for regional competitors who bring an incredible variety of machinery, including a Plymouth Fire Arrow and even a vintage Saab 96 if you’re at the right rally.

2014 champion: David Higgins
R-A Website

 

Canadian Rally Championship 

Canada holds its own version of Rally America, where Antoine L’Estage plays the roll of series superstar (He formerly competed head-to-head with Higgins in RA).  Again, privateers make up the entire field and the country’s broad expanse means a lot of regional entries at each rally.

2014 champion: Antoine L’Estage
CRC Website

 

Dakar Rally

By the time this gets published, the 2015 edition of Dakar will likely have concluded and named new champions. That doesn’t make this cross-country rally raid, which crosses deserts and mountain ranges in South America, any less amazing. Four classes run thousands of kilometers from Buenos Aires over the Andes Mountains and through the Atacama Desert to the Chile’s Pacific Coast before returning. Competition stages (much of the rally is transit stages) run the gamut in terms of surface types, requiring the winners to manage every kind of road condition imaginable

2014 champion: Andrey Karginov (Trucks), Nani Roma (Cars), Ignacio Casale (Quads), Marc Coma (Bikes).
Dakar Website

 

SCORE International Off-Road Series

The SCORE series holds a handful of races in the California and Mexican deserts, sometimes making several circuits of shorter courses and, in the case of the marquis Baja 1000, running point-to-point over the length of the Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The top Trophy Truck class may be the most incredibly engineered race vehicles in the world, running incredible horsepower to push the brick-like trucks well north of 120 miles per hour while the suspension is capable of traveling feet. Those are only the top class; SCORE includes a whole slew of classes with Baja Bugs and motorcycles along with purpose-built Baja machinery.

2014 champion: Too many to list
SCORE Website

 

ULTRA 4 Racing/King of the Hammers

The Ultra 4  series’ big feature is the King of the Hammers competition, a brutal single-day off-road race with two laps of a huge 70-plus mile course that requires capability to run well over 100 miles per hour and also to rock-crawl. There are several classes in the races, but the Ultra 4’s main technical requirement is four-wheel drive and are generally otherwise unlimited.

2014 champion: Loren Healy
ULTRA4 Website

 

FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies

The Cup for Cross Country Rallies is a relatively obscure rally raid series, perhaps, but Minis that crop up for the Dakar Rally to wipe the floor with the other “car” class entries run regularly in this series. The rally raids vary in length, but the month of April should be brutal for the competitors with back-to-back 18-hour rallies in Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

2014 champion: Vladimir Vasileyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov
WCCCR Website

 

Rainforest Challenge

…and now for something completely different. The Rainforest Challenge is a rally in the sense that there are stages held off the beaten path, but it is more of a safari-style rally, done frequently at slow speeds on extremely poorly prepared roads (and frequently off roads entirely). It’s a pretty niche event, admittedly, held in the rain forests of Malaysia.

Rainforest Challenge Website

 

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

It’s a stretch to call hill climbs “off-road” racing, but they are point-to-point so we’ll start with the grandaddy of hill climbs: Pikes Peak. Sebastien Loeb smashed the record by more than 90 seconds in 2013 and with the mountain road paved all the way to its top, one has to wonder how long it will take until someone smashes the record further. Give it a year or two and I hope to see some old turbocharged F1 cars on the mountain. Anyway, in the meantime, electric vehicles appear to be the new frontier of record-chasing, but the most spectacularly death-defying class will always be the sidecar-motorcycle class.

2014 champion: Too many to name in a lot of classes.
PPIHC Website

 

Climb to the Clouds/Mt. Washington Hill Climb

The Mount Washington Hill Climb was part of the Rally America schedule last year and, unfortunately, was held on the same weekend as Pikes Peak and so didn’t get as much attention. Nevertheless, the climbs are slated for separated weekends this year, which could allow a little more starpower at the Climb to the Clouds.

2014 champion: Too many to name in a lot of classes.
Climb to the Clouds Website

 

FIA European Hillclimb Championship

As with rallying, hill climbing is actually far bigger across the pond. The FIA holds its own championship with a dozen hill climbs throughout the continent and the machinery that turns up is nothing short of a horsepower menagerie. Historic cars come out in droves, but the real excitement comes from CN-class sports racers and the occasional retired open-wheel circuit racer, repurposed to scream up European hill sides. There’s no real TV coverage, per se, but the videos on YouTube are legion and seldom disappointing.

2014 champion: Igor Stefanowski (Category I for production-based cars) and Simone Faggioli (Category II for prototypes and open-wheel cars).
FIA Hillclimb Website

 

720_ShortTrack_LOORRS

LOORRS photo

OFF-ROAD: SHORT/CLOSED-CIRCUIT

Long-distance rallies have the unfortunate characteristic of taking place in the middle of absolutely nowhere. While this is largely because the best driving takes place with no one around, that also means that, well, no one’s around to watch it. Short-course off-road racing amends that issue by bringing a taste of rally to spectator-friendly venues, usually courses around a mile long.

FIA World RallyCross Championship

Rallycross originated in the late 1960s in the United Kingdom as a way of bringing the spectacle of stage rally to a short, closed circuit where people can actually watch it. It has grown in recent years, along with other short-track series. World RallyCross is the FIA’s only official world championship in rallycross and while the cars resemble stage rally cars, they make considerably more power. The WRx Championship includes a number of big motorsports names like Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve and WRC champion Petter Solbeg. A RallyCross weekend also includes several lower classes.

2014 champion: Petter Solberg
Feeder series: RallyCross Lites
World RX Website

 

British Rallycross Championship

The British Isles’ rallycross series brings with it fans who have followed that form of racing for decades. The old rallycross series were spectacularly entertaining and the modern variant includes an immense spread of classes with varying capabilities. The sport started at Lydden Hill Circuit in 1967 and the series still visits the simple, short circuit at Lydden twice a year with big crowds on hand especially for the Easter Monday races.

2014 champion: Too many to name in a lot of classes.
BRX Website

 

Red Bull Global RallyCross

While World RallyCross and British Rallycross have the pedigree of European short-course racing, Red Bull’s “global” series (which never travels outside of North American and the Caribbean) maintains a huge presence, as Red Bull-sponsored series are wont to do. With starpower from Ken Block and Tanner Foust and a television deal with NBC, Global RallyCross is perhaps the most highly visible form of short-course racing.

2014 champion: Joni Wiman
Feeder series: GRC Lites
GRC Website

 

Stadium Super Trucks 

Robby Gordon’s trucks racing wheel-to-wheel is probably the highest-profile racing for big-truck racing. Uniquely, SST serves as a support series for several IndyCar weekends, most notably at the temporary street circuits in Toronto and St. Petersburg. To add to that, Gordon will be packing his trucks up to go Down Under in support of the 2015 Australian Grand Prix with Formula One and the V8 SuperCars’ season opener in Adelaide.

2014 champion: Robby Gordon
SST Website

 

The Off-Road Championship (TORC)

The mostly Midwestern TORC series features a number of classes with the top-dog Pro4 and Pro2 trucks, which closely resemble the Baja/SCORE Trophy Trucks, at the top. Added to a given weekend are skeletal buggies and junior off-roading karts, all of which gives TORC its own feeder series. With a little luck, this writer will make it to a TORC weekend in 2015 for you, kind readers of Hooniverse.

2014 champion: Johnny Greaves (Pro 4), C.J. Greaves (Pro 2), Jerett Brooks (Pro Light).
TORC Website

 

Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) 

The Lucas Oil series is analogous to TORC in most ways with Pro4 and Pro2 classes, buggies, and karts. They really only differ in where they race, with LOORRS racing primarily in the American West and Southwest.

2014 champion: Kyle Leduc (Pro 4), Brian Deegan (Pro 2), Sheldon Creed (Pro Lite).
LOORRS Website

 

TRUCK RACING

Car racing, motorcycle racing, big pickup racing…those are all good racing, but it takes a real empty head or full racing-suit between the legs to race a five-ton semi-truck. This form of racing is by far most popular in Europe, where it’s rumored to have outdrawn Formula 1 last year in at least one country. And who can blame fans? The spectacle of 100 tons of racing metal running inches from each other down the front straight of a racing circuit is just mind-boggling.

 

FIA European Truck Racing Championship

One can denigrate European racing for being weak compared to the U.S.’s heavy hitters like NASCAR and the NHRA, but Europe has one thing that America doesn’t: Professional truck racing. This is absolutely bonkers to watch and if you’re not familiar, go watch an onboard or even a race where 25 of these five-ton beasts careen around a road course. The racing defies physics and while the speeds are limited to 100 miles per hour, a few seconds of spectating will tell you that’s plenty.

2014 champion: Norbert Kiss.
ETRC Website

 

British Truck Racing Association 

The United Kingdom also holds its own version of truck racing, which is similarly incredible on the hallowed grounds of British circuits like Donington Park and on a few of the lesser-known tracks like Pembrey. If this sounds familiar, that’s because Hooniverse scribe Chris Haining has been and written about it.

2014 champion: Mat Summerfield (Division 1) and Simon Reid (Division 2).
BTRA Website

 

Formula Truck

Brazil’s truck racing series is unfortunately probably best known for one of the craziest motorsports accidents in recent history, but the racing is tremendous (pun intended) around the country’s own circuits.

2014 champion: Leandro Totti
Formula Truck Website

 

ChampTruck World Series

The United States, however, will be getting a truck racing series this year in the form of ChampTruck World Series. Launched by the people who founded crapcan racing series ChampCar World Series, it features repurposed road trucks going toe-to-toe on American road courses. This is the series’ inaugural season and while its schedule is ambitious, it may very well pay off if there’s ample spectacle over the course of a half-dozen sprint races in the massive trucks.

CTWS Website

 

CLUB and VINTAGE RACING

Real racing aficionados know that real racing happens at the club level, where there’s little glory or fame to be gained. Those fans know that the best racers do it because they love it and that few race harder than the amateurs to live 355 days a year to put the bit between their teeth for those 10 days of bliss. Vintage racers live by a similar creed and while many vintage races turn very competitive, they are usually more attuned to reliving some facet of history for the appreciation of themselves and others.

SCCA Majors Tour

The Sports Car Club of America is the country’s oldest racing club and the Majors are currently the closest thing to a road racing series they have. The Majors Tour splits the country into five regions with each region hosting a handful of events with sprint races for each of the region’s classes. Winners take home some hardware and contingency money, but more importantly, they also qualify for the SCCA Runoffs, the club’s national championship, which will be held at Daytona International Speedway this year for the first time.

Majors Tour Website

 

SCCA Solo National Championships

The SCCA runs more than road racing, however. Their autocross, SCCA Solo2, is serious business at the regional level, but the big deal comes at the Solo nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska, when an incredible variety of cars gather to navigate the sea of cones. High-quality autocross is always entertaining, but it’s probably most incredible to watch those in the unlimited classes.

Solo Nationals Website

 

SCCA RallyCross

The SCCA includes all kinds of events, actually, and has since its post-War inception. Time-Speed-Distance rallies have always been popular and there was stage rally at one time, but the RallyCross is the most popular form of SCCA off-road racing currently. It is not exactly the same as European-style rallycross, however; the SCCA’s version closely resembles autocross on dirt, mud, gravel, and whatever other surfaces can be thrown at the cars. Competition includes a number of classes where everything from Mazda Miatas to Subaru WRXs can be competitive.

RallyCross Website

 

NASA National Championships

It’s worth noting that the National Auto Sport Association isn’t a “club” by the IRS definition of the word, but it is still amateur racing wherein racers must pay membership dues. So that’s why it’s here. Pedants and SCCA-NASA arguments can go straight to hell. Anyway, NASA runs its own series of regional races and while they don’t quite have an analog for the SCCA Majors Tour, they do have one of the Runoffs: dueling national championships. The idea is that they have Western and Eastern championships so competitors don’t have to tow upwards of 2,500 miles in some cases to compete for a club-level title.

NASA Championships Website

 

NASA Western Endurance Racing Championship 

The WERC is a regional only series with endurance races of varying lengths. It’s usually five rounds long and breaks the racing up into NASA’s regular endurance classes. At this point, it’s worth mentioning NASA’s marquis event, the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The 25 is not technically a WERC round, but it’s held in the middle of WERC territory and many of the 25’s competitors run regularly in the regional endurance championship.

WERC Website & Thunderhill 25 Website

 

Britcar 24

The British Racing Driver Club’s Britcar series encompasses its own variety of events, including sprints and short endurance races, but this year’s big news is the return of the Britcar 24 to the calendar. Those who regularly watch Top Gear will know the Britcar 24 from the episode where the chaps (and The Stig) raced a biodiesel BMW. This is one of the biggest sources for excitement in British club racing this year.

Britcar 24 Website

 

Historic Sportscar Racing/The Mitty 

Historic Sportscar Racing is, well, exactly what the name is: a place where owners of vintage sports cars can take them racing. The cars include everything from late-model Le Mans Prototypes to early post-War British sports cars. The marquis event is The Mitty at Road Atlanta, a massive event with hundreds of entries.

HSR Website

 

Sportscar Vintage Racing Association

The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association is another vintage racing club in the U.S. There’s not much else to add; the SVRA draws a similar crowd to HSR, although the SVRA’s marquis event now seems to be the Brickyard Invitational, a race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that debuted last summer with much fanfare and an incredibly huge entry list.

SVRA Website

 

Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Monterey Historics)

Run concurrently with the Pebble Beach Concours show, the Historics is big-dollar vintage racing in motion. It draws not only the regular HSR and SVRA fare, but it also sees some incredibly rare and valuable racecars pulled out of collector garages and flogged for the enjoyment of spectators at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Monterey Historics Website

 

Goodwood Festival of Speed Hill Climb

Like the Monterey Historics but one louder and in England. This event has grown to become an international automotive obsession, streamed live on the web.

Goodwood Website

 

BOSS GP 

Big Open Single Seater is exactly what it sounds like: Somewhere to race the old ChampCar or GP2 or even Formula One racecar from your collection. It’s more than exhibition, however; drivers in this European series push these cars hard.

BOSS GP Website

 

 

Crapcan Racing

Low-buck endurance racing, referred to hereafter as “crapcan racing” because it’s shorter, has swelled in popularity since its inception less than a decade ago. The general idea is the same as club racing with amateur racers taking the reins, but instead of highly tuned cars, cheap road cars headed for the Crusher otherwise are the fodder. Races are usually endurance tests, which stretch cars’ abilities to hold together and also give racers the most seat time per dollar of anywhere in the world short of karting.

 

24 Hours of LeMons

This is the series that started the crapcan revolution, arising in 2006 out of the depraved depths of automotive journalist Jay Lamm’s brain. The general idea: Bring a car worth $500 to a 14-½ hour race over two days. If the car keeps running, you’re either a lucky S.O.B. or someone with a painstaking attention to detail. The light-hearted nature of the racing brings an eclectic mix of racers and cars; it’s not unusual to see a three-cylinder Saab 96s or Studebakers sharing the track with BMW 3 Series or Mazda Miata. Still, this is one of the great venues to get a lot extremely cheap wheel-to-wheel time in a racecar.

LeMons Website

 

Totally Not Crapcan Racing

The following series—which are completely and utterly not crapcan racing—include many crapcan racing features such as no comp school requirements for licensing, primarily long endurance races, and an unbeatable tremendous dollars-per-seat-time ratio (But don’t call it “cheap” because that’s like calling it “crapcan racing”). They all allow more than just stereotypical crapcans with club racers welcome at all three (a bit moreso in WRL and AER), but crapcan (racers’ money) is welcome, too. No one can tell me in a word what these three series (and especially WRL and AER) should be called, but they’re totally not crapcan racing. If someone can ever come up with a name for it, I just might use that. And they might even get a photo above there.

ChumpCar World Series

ChumpCar originally was something of a LeMons spinoff; Chump organizer John Condren was the track promoter at the early LeMons races at Altamont Raceway and in 2009, he started his own crapcan series. The two have divulged since ChumpCar’s first full season in 2009 with Chump catering to a slightly more serious racing crowd by allowing teams to race at prestigious North American circuits like Road Atlanta, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and Road America.

ChumpCar Website

 

World Racing League

WRL’s founder resents the term “crapcan” when referring to his series and here’s why: The endurance racing series derives its competition classes from power-to-weight ratio rather than valuation, so there are a good mix of what are traditionally “crapcans” and club-racing cars from the Porsche or BMW clubs. Nevertheless, it unceremoniously falls in here somewhere as a series branched off from ChumpCar that features a similar product: Low barrier to driver entry and inexpensive running on U.S. circuits.

WRL Website

 

American Endurance Racing

The AER model follows the WRL’s more than others and, again, is not strictly a “crapcan” series. It is, in fact, heavily subscribed by club racers and the quality of cars and racing was high in its inaugural three-race season. Founded by a group of LeMons regulars and some club buddies, there is no car valuation, but car classes are split by qualifying times with penalties for sandbagging.

AER Website

 

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Red Bull photo

OTHER

A number of racing series don’t really fall into the pantheon of racing “genres,” so I’ll file a number here. Keep in mind there are also additional one-off events that will be highlighted in the Motorsports Weekend Guide, so be sure to check that out every week.

 

Formula Drift 

It’s still had to know where to plug drifting into the motorsports pantheon, but the thousand-horsepower, sideways-at-100-mph spectacle is still properly entertaining. There’s no racing, per se, just the adrenaline of sliding on the edge of control mere inches from an opponent while judges rate technical things about the driver’s car control. 

2014 champion: Chris Forsberg
Formula D Website

 

Global Time Attack 

GTA is the polar opposite of drifting: The only objective is lap time. The time trials series produces some interesting extremes in the car building world where all that matters is driving as fast as mechanically and humanly possible.

GTA Website

 

H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Series

Is there really anything crazier than ripping across a body of water in a boat with a helicopter turbine strapped to it? This remains one of those last frontiers for crazy with boats occasionally topping 200 miles per hour. In a boat. While racing other boats. Nope, not much crazier than that.

2014 champion: Jimmy Shane
H1 Website

 

Red Bull Air Race

Before World War II, air racing was one of the great adrenaline-fueled sports. It produced plenty of legends and while Red Bull’s version is essentially time trials, it’s still spectacular to watch lithe stunt planes fly between gates just a 100 feet or so above the ground.

2014 champion: Nigel Lamb (Master) and Francois Le Vot (Challenger)
Air Race Website

 

Surely, in 11,000 words, we havent missed anything, have we? If we have, leave a comment below or shoot an email to Eric@Hooniverse.com and we’ll add any series to this list and to the Weekend Guides that you’d like to see.

 

 

[Source images as credited]

  • Alan Cesar

    Since “mostly a style competition” isn’t a disqualifier (you included drifting in your list), monster trucks should also be included for all the 12-year-old boys out there.
    http://www.monsterjam.com/

    • The Rusty Hub

      Monster Jam is more of a concert-tour kind of thing, I guess, with multiple dates throughout a given week. I’m not sure how I can really fit that into the weekly guide constructs, but I’ll try to wedge it in.

      • Alan Cesar

        I was mostly just busting your nuts.
        But I did see a bit of Monster Jam on TV recently, and it was pretty awesome. I mean, that one time. Maybe just for the novelty.

  • engineerd

    The only one I see missing is the Africa EcoRace. They actually go to Dakar (the place in Africa), as it is the answer to the move of the Dakar Rally to South America. Long in the shadow of the Dakar Rally, it seems to be gaining more traction as a less costly alternative to Dakar. http://www.africarace.com/en/

  • Joey Todd

    Just for clarification – World Racing League is “Endurance Racing”. Labeling the series as “Totally not Crapcan Racing” while comparing it to crapcan racing isn’t accurate. Crapcan is a more genteel version of the original term reflecting the fact that LeMons and ChumpCar are based on $500 cars. Nothing against crapcan racing, 24HoL and ChumpCar have allowed a lot of people into the sport who might not otherwise be racing today, and LeMons in particular is also a great show of wit as well as mechanical and artistic creativity.

    But WRL isn’t rooted in racing $500 cars. Or campy tongue-in-cheekiness. Or pure noobs learning during the race. Or anything else that has come to be synonymous with crapcans. Simply put, it’s an endurance racing series that welcomes production-based cars from virtually any other amateur club or series. Yes there are 24HoL and Chump teams participating – great folks who want to take the next step up in competition. But there are WRL-specific teams as well as an increasing number of racers crossing over from every one of the clubs. They all love the fact that WRL offers a pro-like experience on an amateur racer’s budget.

    WRL is not an offshoot of ChumpCar, in fact is has more in common with NASA – if drawing parallels is needed. We’re not looking for special treatment. No one needs to come up with a new category or classification for what we’re doing in WRL. It’s simply “Endurance Racing”.