Bulgarian 'racetrack' was FIA safety apoplexy version of 'Where's Waldo?'

The Bulgarian Touring Car Championship was a short-lived race series in, as you may guess, the country of Bulgaria. As you may also guess, Bulgaria is a country that is a bit short on racetracks, having only Race Track Dracon, a fittingly austere circuit. So how does a race series exist in a country with no racetracks? Why, you make one out of the streets of a city like Veliko Tarnovo. Follow the jump for video of the race from onboard Atanas Bozhilov, Jr.’s (aka The Other Junior) Toyota Yaris, as most of the cars look to be B-segment hatchbacks.

The cars seem safe enough, but like any good Where’s Waldo? book, there’s a checklist of things to look for that would make the “track’s” unwitting insurer start shredding documents (Just kidding, insurance is for the weak) and the FIA make this a Grade 300 circuit (Lower grade = Safer).
In addition to the bozo in the lead image standing on the live racetrack, can you find:

  • A couple dozen unprotected trees
  • Spectators clustered in a bus shelter not behind any kind of barrier
  • “Tire walls” in front of light poles
  • A marshall who is one braking-zone punt away from being a flag-holding grease spot
  • The potential to get knocked directly into racecars going the opposite direction
  • Onramps. So many onramps. Can you count them?
  • A hatchback that has explored the containment methods of a single tire laid on the ground and found it inadequate

Bulgaria was, at least in 2009, clearly in no danger of being called a Nanny State. In all actuality, the conditions here look a lot like what I’ve seen of early SCCA temporary street circuits from the 1950s, which were mostly employed until permanent circuits could be built. As racing is still very much a cottage industry in Europe outside of the northern and western parts of the continent, the motto for racing in Bulgaria must be akin to what an old boss told me while training me as a shift manager: “When a pint is holding a pint, it’s doing the best that it can.” (I later learned that was a misquoting of someone else, but the sentiment remains the same.)
But seriously, doesn’t this look like an absolute crap-ton of fun, “safety” aside? This is essentially what beaten-down suburban commuters like myself think about every day, carving mental racetracks out of our daily drive: “If only I could just hoon the everloving crap out of this car without worrying that someone driving a Rogue and yelling at their spouse on the phone will unexpectedly change lanes and push me into an un-tire-walled light pole near a man in a red windbreaker…”
A version of this story appeared on Per Schroeder’s short-lived GarageLove.com blog (before he moved to MotoIQ) a couple years ago, but this version is far superior. Sorry/not sorry, Per. Hat-tip to my good friend Mike Palmer for sending me this back then.
[Source: Ara Motorsport on YouTube]

By |2015-08-20T12:00:11+00:00August 20th, 2015|Motorsports|0 Comments

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