Hooniverse Asks: What was the greatest racing event of all time?


For those of us who enjoy motorsport, we all have our preferred type of motorsport to watch. Be it two wheels or four, open wheel or closed cockpit endurance spaceship, gravel slinging rally machine or focused street car, there is racing for everyone.
If you had to narrow it down to one singular racing event though, not just an entire series but one actual race… what would you consider to be the greatest racing event of all time?
Will it be Senna in the rain? Audi at Le Mans? Loeb being Loeb? Or maybe it’s Joey Dunlop and one of his 26 race wins at the Isle of Man? There are going to be a lot of great answers… and some serious discussion surrounding those answers.
I can’t wait to see what you have to say in the comments below.

24 Comments

    1. If you’re gonna go for a grueling, early motorcar cross country race, I think you would be better served with the Peking to Paris Race from 1907. The route stretched over 9,300 miles (nearly 15,000 km). Four of the five car entered (the Contal Cyclecar three wheeler got stuck in the Gobi desert and was abandoned) made it the entire way. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f377f119a04bb88a47d43c6bb222dc10ffcaa3bb35fcf65b5df5dfb3c9b6a99d.jpg

      1. If you think that something like 24h of Lemans is hardcore, imagine this: the 1907 race started on 10 June, and that Itala in the foreground arrived on 10 August, with a 20 days (!) margin over the second qualified.

    1. The “copy protection” of Papyrus’ Indy 500 game displayed one image of a winner car, and asked for facts that could be found in the manual. That specific image from there taught me about shutter curtains and their effect when imaging quick, laterally moving objects – thank you for bringing back good memories of a younger me!

    2. Yes, the most famous was Pierre Levegh who nearly won the race in 1952 in a Talbot but had an engine failure in the last hour while holding a 4-lap lead.

    3. I’ve always wondered why really old photographs of racing cars have the car and wheels tilted forward. Does it have something to do with tracking the shot or what?

      1. The camera is not moved in that shot (proof: contact patch is imaged nicely, whereas the top of the wheel is blurry).
        The shutter is a pair of curtains: one curtain is covering the film, the other one is retracted but ready to close.
        For long exposures, the first curtain will shoot away and expose the film. After, say, 0.5 seconds, the second curtain will snap over the film and stop the exposure.
        Short exposures were achieved by shooting away the first curtain but chase it with the second (closing) curtain before the entire image plane is exposed. The result is a running slit.
        The width of the slit determines the duration of exposure for a given spot on the Film, and is controlled by the timing between the opening and closing curtain.
        The speed of the slit is limited by mechanical parameters (weight of the curtain, power of the mechanism, material limits), and is definitely finite.
        So when the curtains run vertically, the bottom of the wheels was imaged onto film when the slit was there over the film plane. While the slit moved up (actually down, image is inverted) to where the top of the wheel belongs, the car already moved substantially so the circle is distorted.
        Central shutters don’t have that problem, but can’t be quick enough for extremely short exposures: mechanical vignetting (less light in the corners) will be the artifact.
        Today’s carbon shutters allow for insane slit speeds, so that artifact became less pronounced.

  1. Easily, the greatest race I’ve ever watched was the 1992 Hooters 500 at Atlanta.
    The King’s last race, Jeff Gordon’s first, and the incredible battle for the Winston Cup. 6 cars had a legitimate shot at the championship, with the final battle coming down to Alan Kulwicki and Bill Elliot. Elliot wins the race, but one of the greatest underdogs in any sport wins the championship war!
    https://cdn-8.motorsport.com/static/img/mgl/1200000/1270000/1270000/1270200/1270298/s9/nascar-cup-special-event-2011-alan-kulwicki-wins-the-1992-winston-cup-championship.jpg

  2. 2015 Moto GP Race at Phillips Island, Australia.
    Four riders, nose to tail for 27 laps. Something like 57 passes between those 4, including at least 4 for position non the last lap.
    Second: Senna in the rain at Donnington.

    1. MotoGP and especially the feeders always live up to the bill. The Moto3 race this year at Mugello was insane.

  3. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/370dbf2e16917e1f3a7b243664d598b31fb1ad004c8d9ab4ef71b3aa078a967e.jpg
    The 1982 Indy 500 was the closest in history up to that point. Since there there have been closer, but this one was in an era before everybody’s car was essentially the same. Yeah, 1992 was slightly closer, and 2014 was the closest, but I didn’t attend either one. Man, that was a fun 500 to attend live. I didn’t even care that my pants split down the middle before the race started.

  4. 1960 Nurburgring Stirling Moss/Dan Gurney make up 6 minutes to win. Really any race in which Moss was behind. He either won or broke the car trying.

  5. In a purely nationalistic theme, the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ford, having been jilted in an attempted relationship with Ferrari, takes his deep pockets and American V8s to Ferrari’s playground and not only wins, but took all three podium spots.

  6. Hmmn…..
    Fangio at the 57 German GP?
    Stewart at the 68 German GP?
    Nuvolari at the 35 German GP?
    Moss and Jenks at the 55 Mille Miglia?
    Chinetti at LeMans in 49?
    Lauda at the 76 Italian GP?

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