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.
Redditor SirDunny posted a few (North and South) American track maps in scale a few days ago, but this update to include great racing circuits from around the world proves one thing fairly handily: The Nürburgring is not to be messed with. Only Pike’s Peak and La Sarthe even come close to the grandeur of the ‘Ring.
Imagine now if we lived in a world that could include the Mille Miglia or Targa Florio on this illustration. It only highlights that, as important as the Nürburgring is—and how vital it is that we save it—it is only the last best reminder of what racing courses once were.
There’s some fascinating things happening in this track map created for the 1958 “Race of Two Worlds” event at Monza. Unofficially dubbed “Monzanapolis” for the event, the race was a battle between American USAC speedway machines typically seen at Indianapolis versus European road racing machines. Because the race used only the banked oval portion of Monza’s fabulous double loop “combined” configuration (and it ran in the opposite direction), the event required it’s own map. They really outdid themselves with this one.
Not only does it show the track from above, there is also fantastic details like the cross sections of the banking, (this was where I learned that the North and South banking were so different) and an attempt to demonstrate the elevation change in the track (highly unconventional on a speedway).
I usually lean towards the freehand illustrated maps so commonly seen in CalClub and SCCA event programs, but this professionally drafted map is so rich in detail that I absolutely adore it.
I typically take this opportunity to ramble on tearily reminisce over the hand illustrated aesthetic of vintage track maps that seems to be lost in the modern era. After all, it’s easier to output a quick render or line art from the track designer’s plans and call it done. Rarely would we think today of commissioning an artist to illustrate a custom map for an event program.
Today, though, I want to focus on something else happening in this image scanned from a Paramount Ranch program. A recent design movement has made me think that all may not be lost; and it’s the wonderful handwritten lettering on this map that helped me notice it. In the past couple of years there has been an enormous resurgence in hand lettering throughout all levels of design.
Why in the age of digital typesetting, when even the most amateur computer user has dozens of fonts at their fingertips, would the professional hand letterer be back in demand? Because it has soul. There’s something behind that ever-so-slightly-wiggly hand lettered headline that hints at a humanity and a playfulness that you just don’t get from perfectly set Helvetica Neue Light. Why couldn’t it also be so for hand drafters or illustrators? This map has soul.
We’ve seen maps from Paramount Ranch before and my sentiment remains exactly the same… Just look at that tunnel.