1. It’s a purpose-built Grand Prix facility
Purpose-built for Grand Prix racing – not even ‘The Glen’ can make that claim – the Circuit of the Americas is among Formula 1’s most respected venues, with more than 269K fans turning out for the 2016 United States Grand Prix alone. MotoGP has been running there uninterrupted since 2013, and the circuit has welcomed IMSA, the World Endurance Championship, and pretty much every other American sports car series since the ribbon was cut in 2012. Even IndyCar made the jump for the first time last year.
And it’s not hard to see why. At 5.513km in length, COTA is a true challenge to perfect, featuring as it does high speed straights, a technical infield with cornering forces of over 1G, and a complex double chicane directly inspired by Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps (seriously, take a good look at turns four, five and six). Alongside that, there’s the adjacent Austin360 Amphitheatre – Justin Timberlake is a former headliner, but don’t let that put you off – and the calf-rupturing Observation Tower stands 251ft at its highest, providing either a stunning panorama or a sadistic training regime for any 24H SERIES competitor.
Oh, and let’s not forget…
2. Turn one is legit insane!
The TV cameras really don’t do this one justice. Stand on the start-finish straight at COTA, look up towards the turn one tyre barriers, and you’re met with 133ft of elevation. Just think about that for a second: that’s the equivalent of climbing to the ninth floor of a building, in a car! And bear in mind that GT front-runners will enter the unsighted turn one apex after hitting nearly 230kph on the main front straight.
The management team at COTA is certainly keen to promote arguably the circuit’s most identifiable corner too, as it offers visitors and competitors the chance to make the torturous climb on-foot as part of a full circuit walk around. On Tuesday nights, you’ll be pleased to hear you can trade in some very worn shoe leather for Bike Swap Shop Bike Night, allowing visitors to cycle the full 5.513km circuit at their ‘leisure’.
3. COTA hosts the season finale for the third year in a row
‘Home of the World Championships.’ A fitting accolade, as, for the third year in a row, the Circuit of the Americas will close out the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook on 15-16-17 November, confirming the brand new 24H SERIES Continents champions in the process. And that’s not just Overall Teams and Drivers’ crowns either, with class titles also up for grabs as well as the outright race win too.
Fun fact, did you know that the GT team that won the season opening Hankook 24H DUBAI has also gone on to win that year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA? Aren’t you curious to see if this streak will continue in 2020, Car Collection Motorsport?
4. Can you set the fastest lap? Or stomach a zip line across the circuit?
Actually, no, we’re not talking about fastest race lap of the Hankook 24H COTA USA. Though we’re guessing that will be hotly competed.
No, we’re talking about the Texas Lottery Fastest Lap, a monthly competition in which the fastest driver around the nearby COTA Karting track come the end of the month will receive an exclusive prize package and a gift card from Texas Lottery. Now, we know you guys don’t exactly need incentive to go quickly on a racetrack, but, still…
For those of you with a head for heights, you could also get a hitherto-unseen view of the main straight of the Circuit of the Americas via the brand new Zip Line Experience. You’ll be pleased to hear there isn’t a prize for the fastest zip line yet.
1. It’s the 15th running of the event in 2020
Has it really been FIFTEEN years since the inaugural running of the Hankook 24H DUBAI? Let’s consider that for a second…
In 2006, the Dubai Autodrome – now one of the Middle East’s most celebrated racing venues – was just over a year old, and the winning entry of the circuit’s first 24-hour event, from a field of just under 70, was the BMW M3 of Duller Motorsport. Which, incidentally, was followed home by three Porsche 996 GT3s and a Honda S2000! How times change.
Since that first race, things have changed just a tad. Now one of the most respected endurance races on the planet, and often THE endurance event to open a new racing season, the Hankook 24H DUBAI has proven a very popular hunting ground for the likes of Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Audi. Entries now regularly nose above 80 every year, the event is live streamed uninterrupted by radiolemans.com (psst, page xxx), and competitors travel from far and wide. This year alone, more than 400 drivers and 75 teams represented 35 different countries on the starting grid.
You can be sure, with a decade and a half of heritage already recorded, that the 2020 running of the Hankook 24H DUBAI will be a sight to behold and an experience to savour. Wouldn’t you want to be a part of it?
2. It’s a genuine challenge for competitors
Ironically, despite the event being hosted in the heart of the United Arab Emirates, exactly half of the Hankook 24H DUBAI – and sometimes even more – is run during the night.
No, seriously. At this year’s race, night fell at 7.08pm, dawn only arriving 11 hours and 58 minutes later at 7.06am. Drivers looking for a true, endurance racing experience need look no further.
There’s also the circuit to consider. GT3 machines are capable of reaching over 250kph on the 900m long back straight (they’re easily doing 240kph on the main drag too), but engineers have to make sure there’s enough mechanical grip to tackle the long double apex right handers after turn two, and the fearsome, undulating ‘bowl’ at turn 14.
Oh, and let’s not forget that this 5.39km Grand Prix layout regularly holds up to, and over, 80 cars every year, with a whopping 95 turning up for the 2015 edition.
3. The camel ride
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, and we’ll be saying it for many years to come because it truly is worth repeating: overall podium finishes in both the GT and TCE divisions get to ride a camel down the pit lane for the podium celebrations.
You read that correctly. If you finish in the top three, in either GT or TCE, the celebration begins with a dromedary ride down the pitroad. Can you name another race in the world where the winners and podium finishers are afforded an opportunity like that?
4. It’s a who’s who of motorsport legends
Let’s just run through some of the names that have competed at and even left their mark on the Hankook 24H DUBAI over the years.
Two-time Le Mans winner Hans-Stuck drove alongside future Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff to secure the first win in Dubai in 2006. Five-time DTM champion Bernd Schneider joined the winner’s list in 2013, starting his Bathurst, Nürburgring and Spa winning streak that year. Formula 1 alumni include Robert Kubica, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mika Salo, Jos Verstappen – father of Max – Tomáš Enge, and Karun Chandhok. Two-time World Endurance Champion, and Le Mans winner, Brendon Hartley took the win in 2017, and former World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff came close to doing so in 2014 from the back of the grid.
And that really is just a selection!
1. Transport logistics are arranged by CREVENTIC personally
We know the feeling: a fly-away race in an exotic location for a very reasonable price (excuse the shameless plug) sounds great, but the paperwork and phone calls required to get the team, the car AND the equipment to the track is enough to give you a stomach ulcer.
No, we really do know the feeling. Since its very first event in 2006, CREVENTIC’s hardworking boys and girls have personally organised the transportation of a team’s car and crew, in-container, for all of its fly-away races.
In fact, not only does CREVENTIC make sure every team’s container is unloaded at the nearest port, the organising body also makes sure each one is transported to the circuit and alighted in the paddock next to, or as close as it can be, to each team’s respective pitbox. With the car and equipment taken care of, all the team needs to do is get itself to the race.
And yes, air freighting is an option too.
2. Great cities
Where to start? The Autodrome is located just 20 minutes from Downtown Dubai, in which you’ll find the tallest building in the world – the 2,722ft Burj Khalifa – one of the world’s largest shopping edifices – the Dubai Mall – and the Dubai Aquarium, one of, yes, the largest of its kind in the world. You can probably spot a theme here…
On top of that, you have the famed Dubai Fountain, which ‘performs’ every half an hour after 6pm to almost half a dozen light shows and musical numbers. Set off for a day trip to Abu Dhabi, and you’ll pass the gold-festooned Souk Madinat, the world’s first seven-star hotel – the Burj Al Arab – and the architecturally stunning Palm Jumeirah.
Over in Austin, it’s party time in November. Especially Sixth Street, the epicentre of the city’s night life and known, on the East Side at least, as ‘Dirty Six’. Hey, your downtime is your own…
Elsewhere, you can check out popular local landmarks like Mount Bonnell (the highest point of the city at 775ft), the State Capitol (“don’t bring him up, don’t bring him up…”), and 351-acre Zilker Park, Austin's most popular green space. One unorthodox tradition is the evening flight of the Mexican free-tailed bats that have made the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge their home. That should put you in a suitably gothic mood ahead of a Haunted Austin Walking tour too.
3. Fantastic paddock atmosphere
Since its very first official event in 2006, CREVENTIC has prided itself on running a professional and safe racing series albeit with a relaxed family-friendly paddock. And among the best examples of that are the Dubai Autodrome and the Circuit of the Americas.
The Hankook 24H DUBAI is one of the biggest events worldwide every January, as well as THE biggest endurance race full-stop in the Middle East. Alongside the popular ‘welcome party barbeque’, the fireworks display at 8pm on Friday evening has now become a popular tradition for the UAE event. At COTA meanwhile, as well as the customary ‘end of term’ vibe, the circuit will also host ‘Cars and Coffee Austin’ on Sunday 17 November, central Texas’ biggest gathering of auto enthusiasts offering a smorgasbord of race cars, classics, muscle cars, hot rods and motorbikes.
Professional, but relaxed. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?