I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that contemporary track maps aren’t imbued with the personality and joy that illustrated track maps like this on of the 1967 Tillamook Naval Air Station Auto Races. On the face of it, there’s no reason why this year’s Grand Prix calendar couldn’t adopt the whimsy of these illustrations. After all, this track map—cartoonish as it is—communicates quite a bit about the track itself.
I’d argue it tells us as much or more about the race track than most contemporary maps: The direction of racing, the speeds and labels of the turns, the start-finish line. They’re all there. Even the subtler features that I thought might preclude this kind of thing like the location of restrooms and food stands are also visible here. If you found a way to incorporate the spectator stands and endless rows of merchandise trucks—this kind of thing could come back.
Back when PIR was Auto Sports Park they had a touch more personality and fun in their program ephemera than they do today. Look at all of the little details in Rick Owen’s old hand-drawn and watercolored(?) map. Some are useful information for drivers and spectators alike: the suggested speeds for each of the seven turns; the near-track hazards being cartoonishly confronted by the drivers in the map; US 99 disappearing into the a Seattle filled horizon. Others are there just to make us smile: the sea monster near the front straight; the mechanics dozing under the car at tech inspection; the distracted driver oggling a sunbathing spectator going in to turn 4. Rick’s map reminds us all that motorsport is supposed to be fun. Today’s maps have completely forgotten the fun side of the sport.
Don’t believe me? Check out their current map. I’ve seen golf course maps, or even county platt schematics with more artistry. Come on, Portland! Find Rick Owen and have him do the smallish updates to this gorgeous painterly map he created decades ago.
I think we can all generally agree that the rapid increase in technology—particularly the desktop computer—has made society better in almost every way. Sure, maybe we’re all too buried in our phone screens, but the societal benefits of all that increased computation have made our medicine, our education, our entertainment, our jobs.. on the whole: faster, easier, more enjoyable. I have yet to find, however, a single example of a contemporary track map that is better designed or more engaging than those created by draftsmen hunched over a table with a pencil and a bottle of ink.
This example of the track map for the Palm Springs road races of 1952 is an excellent example. Would a contemporary track map designer sketch in these gorgeous little illustrations of the cars lined up on the track? Would a contemporary designer playfully wrap the typography of the turns around the contours of the map? I doubt it. I’m glad that Stan Parker signed his name to this masterpiece so we can thank someone specific. Thanks, Stan.
I don’t know about you, but Intellivision’sAuto Racing was my first experience with motorsport. On a given night, I might still occasionally reach for this before Forza or iRacing. Over on the Gameplay Archive, David has deconstructed the maps from Auto Racing to test the map’s accuracy and give us a complete view of the entire racing season’s (series?) venues. I love this kind of nerding out. It’s a great mashup of my love for vintage racing, classic gaming, and messing about with technology in ways the designers never intended. Here’s a video on David’s process, and head on over to the feature on Gameplay Archive for more. Fun!
Small displacement. Tight courses. Community involvement. Participatory spectators. Pick any one two these and apply them to a contemporary racing series and I’ll be a fan. I’m envious of these residents of Napoli that they got to have all of them.
You can still make out most of the course on Google Maps. Looks like the 3-4-5 sequence has been completely trashed. Though it looks like you can still faintly see the short straight bit at 7-8-9. I understand that this facility was in use as recently as 2012 for police training and the occasional Porsche Club event. In any event, it looks like it could still adequately facilitate a small bore race.
The Half Liter Car Club has a marvelous article on Brands and its inextricable link with 500cc racing over at 500race.org. The original kidney shaped “Indy” circuit at Brands Hatch was a favorite among spectators who could see virtually the entire track from anywhere on the grounds. This plan, published by the club’s 1952 annual report demonstrates just how quickly there were plans in place to expand the track to accommodate Grand Prix racing. The above visualizes an expansion of Brands to meet the minimum length requirements for the fledgling Formula 1 series. After a series of expansions (and change in racing direction from counter-clockwise to clockwise), Brands Hatch hosted her first Formula 1 World Championship event 12 years later.
Head on over for more of Brands fascinating growth and her early dominance by a young Stirling Moss.
You can clearly see Silverstone’s history in this 1950 map of the circuit. That triangle of runways so typical of RAF Class-A airbases during the second World War is clearly evident. Even if you’re familiar with the many changes at Silverstone over the years, the start/finish position is defining characteristic for this period between ’49 and ’51 before it was relocated to between Woodcote and Copse.
There is more than the track itself to point to the era on this map. The “buffets” identified on the map conjures images of something more than a beer and pretzel tent. I’m also mildly surprised to see a “missing persons” tent, which I wouldn’t have thought would have come into play until much later, corresponding with the shorter leash that people tend to keep on kids with each generation.
And that lettering(!): hand-rendered but striving for draftsman’s perfection. The detailing surrounding the Silverstone titling is reason enough to covet this thing and is reminiscent of vintage stock certificate lettering or book title pages or bank notes. Wonderful.