Vehicular Vacation - The greatest motorsport beach parties
It's currently summertime which means plenty of people take advantage of the sunny weather for a nice day out at the beach. For us motorsport fans however, we'd rather spend our weekends at a racetrack. But what if you could combine the two? Well, you could. And in some cases, you still can.
If the US has the Bonneville salt flats, then the UK has the Pendine Sands. An almost perfectly flat beach that goes on for 11 Kilometers or 7 Miles. In the 1920's it featured the fastest and most powerful machinery aiming for the land speed record. During that period the record got improved 5 times with the fastest speed being set in 1927 by Malcolm Campbell in his Bluebird II. He went 172.88 mph or 281.44 km/h.
Sadly, just a couple of month later, the speed craze came to a grinding halt when Parry Thomas was fatally injured in an accident. His car BABS was travelling at 170 mph or 273 km/h when the drive chain broke, made the car uncontrollable which sent it into a violent rollover. During, and after the world wars the beach became littered with ammunition left by the military as they used it as a firing range.
Luckily, all danger of unexploded ordnance laying around has since passed. And over the last couple of years, Pendine Sands has flourished as a haven for British speed freaks.
Enduropale du Touquet
If you're more into two wheeled motorsport then the Enduropale du Toquet is for you. Created by Thierry Sabine, the man also responsible for the Dakar rally, it is the toughest and most gruelling motorcycle race of the year. Yes, even tougher than the Isle of Man TT.
The idea is simple: a three hour long enduro race on a 13 Kilometer section of beach on the French coast. Drivers do half the distance on the actual beach where they easily reach their top speed. After that they must head back through the dunes. The number of participants each year is massive. The first edition back in 1975 already had 286 bikes blasting down the beach. Nowadays that number is often more than 1000!
For the ones that think being in a high speed traffic jam on the beach isn't dangerous enough, you can always sign up for the Quaduro. The exact same race but with quads. A vehicle with, if we are to believe Richard Hammond, a thousand million horsepower.
The Baja 1000 is a 1000 mile offroad sprint on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Vehicles on the grid go from modified Volkwagen Beetles and regular dirt bikes to massive 850 horsepower trophy trucks and class one buggies. What makes the Baja unique is that there isn't a predetermined route, only checkpoints. Just like in the Dakar rally, everyone is free to choose their own route.
That's why many teams do prerunning where they scout the area days before the event to see if they can find any shortcuts. This often leads them to the beach as that's where they can go flatout. The speed advantage poses a great risk however as the chances of unintentionally skipping a checkpoint can cost you the race.
Before the second world war, Daytona Beach was the United States' version of the Pendine Sands. In the late 40s however the Bonneville salt flats was thoroughly established as the best place for speed record hunting. That left Daytona Beach to become the birthplace of NASCAR and post war American motorsport as a whole.
Dozens of races were held on the beach. For 10 years the beach was an American petrolheads dream location as more and more people came to watch the exiting spectacles created by future legends and their equally iconic hot rods including the real life Fabulous Hudson Hornet
Veronica was originally an illegal Dutch pirate radio station operating on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. After going legal they quickly became the go-to radio and television station for more younger audiences as they showed, and organized, all sorts of sports and entertainment events. One of which was the Veronica Strandrace or Beachrace.
In what can best be described as the real life version of the Motorstorm or Forza Horizon videogames, a wide range of motorsport events were held at the beach on one day. Motorcycles, cars, buggies, trucks, three-wheelers, sidecars, even R/C cars. They were all given the opportunity to tear it up on the beaches of The Hague.
After 11 successful editions, the city council decided that having the off road equivalent of the Goodwood Festival of Speed on their beaches wasn't acceptable anymore due to environmental concerns and noise complaints.