1. Dakar Rally
Although not the oldest of races, this rally has been shocking and thrilling fans since 1979. The rally commences in Dakar, Senegal and ends in Paris, France and the race lasts for weeks. It even crosses part of the Sahara desert where almost every year there’s risk of drivers losing their way and subsequently their lives in this unremitting environment.
2. Monaco Grand Prix
It goes without saying the Formula One, F1, is the most watched and most beloved type of car racing the world over and the pinnacle of the F1 season—the race that even people who couldn’t care less about cars have heard about is most surely the Monaco Grand Prix. Since 1929 this race has been delighting spectators, challenging drivers and mechanics and providing an opulent and sexy backdrop to anyone who wants to be seen. If it were preposed as a course today it would be immediately rejected as it’s far too dangerous, but the glamour and tradition keep it going.
3. Le Mans 24
One of the most famous and oldest races in the world the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the stuff of automotive legend. Since 1923 drivers have been coming to Le Mans, near Paris to drive their vehicles for 24 hours straight. This race is a wild beast and it annually showcases cutting edge technology. Not only is it gruelling for the drivers, it can be a mechanical free-for-all and drivers can be seen repairing their cars on the sides of the race track as the other cars whizz passed.
4. Pikes Peak Hill Climb
Although the course itself is only 25 kilometres (12 miles) this race, held annually near Colorado Springs, Colorado in the United States is one of the most difficult races of its kind for both driver and machine. With 150 turns (which averages to a turn ever 170 metres) it’s not for the faint-hearted. And since the goal is to reach the summit of the Pikes Peak mountain with the best time the possibility of fatal crashes or cars plunging off cliffs is an omnipresent danger in this event.
5. Daytona 500
For stock car racing fans there’s no bigger event than the Daytona 500. This race in Florida was held for the first time in 1959. Daytona Beach had long been a place famed for racing, but prior to 1959 it was predominately races conducted quasi-legally by amateurs who happened to have fast cars. They drove literally on the beach to see who was the fastest. From there it developed into a massive event that now opens the NASCAR season.