My wife and I recently saw the movie Rush, Ron Howard’s blockbuster film about the famous rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1970s. I was a little kid during the time of their rivalry, but I remember hearing some of the adults that came to my parent’s barbecue parties debating who the better racer was. I also remember how excited my cousins and I were about getting Formula 1 Hot Wheels and Tyco race tracks. The film is astounding in more ways than one. The acting is superb, the plot suspenseful, the directing divine – but that wasn’t what struck us the most.
More than anything, it was the locations. The racetracks for the Formula One races are set in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. It occurred to me that a round the world trip that visited the various racetracks featured in the film would be a worthy trip. Don’t believe me? Check out this itinerary.
Ron Howard filmed race scenes almost exclusively in the UK – which is pretty amazing considering that he made them look like 1970’s tracks around the world. So, to start, let’s look at the UK racetrack locations:
Snetterton in Norfolk . Norfolk is a portmanteau that comes from “North Folk” it lies on the North Sea of England. While there take a walk through Thetford Forest – a huge area of managed woodland perfect for walking, mountain biking, nature watching, and even husky dog sled racing if you want to see a race of a different kind.
Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire Lincolnshire is famous for it’s seaside resorts and areas of great natural beauty, but those who watch Downton Abbey, might be more interested in visiting the beautiful gardesn of Grantham House in the village of Grantham.
Brands Hatch in Kent – While you are in Kent checking out the track, enjoy the county known as the Garden of England and be sure to visit Canterbury for a historic break into Chaucer’s England. Kent is the closest country to Mainland Europe, so you may want to jump from here to Europe.
Jumping from the UK we head to France where the film wasn’t shot but where Brand’s Hatch racetrack doubled as the Paul Ricard Circuit of Marseilles. If you haven’t been to Marseilles – you should go. One reason is enough – Le Corbusier – but there are more.
From France, let’s head to Westphalia in Germany where some of the film was made. Cologne is known as one of the most liberal cities in Germany, so in addition to seeing the many galleries, enjoying the architecture, and exploring the history – this might be a place to get wild and crazy like a formula one driver. Brand’s Hatch also doubled as Nurburgring race track in the film.
Heading south to Italy, we can go to Monza in the Lombardy region. A trip to Monza is worthwhile but you should also go a short distance out of your way to visit Milan while you are there. The track here by the way, was also played by Brand’s Hatch which may have been the most versatile actor in the film since it also portrayed Fiorano in Emilia-Romagna– the circuit owned and built by Ferrari in 1972. While here – visit the Ferrari museum.
Now, however, it’s time to leave Europe.The 1976 racing season included more European tracks including those of Belgium, Spain, Monaco, Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands – so you could easily include those on your Rush tour of the world – but, as hard as it sometimes seems to believe – there is more to the world than Europe and there were more locations for the 1976 Grand Prix season as well.
Fuji, in Japan – this track was convincingly played by Snetterton, though how they put that mountain in there, I have no idea. I make no secret that Japan is at the top of my travel to bucket list – and watching a Formula One race would be an awesome thing to include.
From Asia, we can jump to Brazil – another place I’ve never been but someday want to go. The 1975 Formula One tour also included South Africa and Argentina.
Other Formula One races were held in the United States and Canada during those two years but there have been races in Morocco. If you wanted to include more recent races you could include Australia, China, Malaysia, and Bahrain. In fact, you could pretty easily tour the world and find Formula One history in nearly every region and on every continent (here is the complete list) – but you won’t find them in Antarctica – yet.