Stories that made 2022: America’s classic corners

Stories that made 2022: America’s classic corners

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Stories that made 2022: America’s classic corners

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As the white flag waves on 2022, we asked RACER’s writers to reflect on the story from this year that resonated the most with them, based on any criteria they saw fit. Today, Editor-in-Chief Laurence Foster relates which pages of this year’s RACER magazine content were the most memorable for him.

When RACER.com editor Mark Glendenning cajoled me into coming up with a “Stories that made 2022” pick from RACER magazine, I admit I was way overthinking it at first. In the end, I went for the story that was most fun to put together, and that’s “America’s classic corners” from The Legendary Races Issue back in the summer.

It’s a simple idea: choose five top drivers, past and present, and get them to talk about their favorite corner or section from any road or street course in the U.S. (rest assured, we’ll cover ovals sometime in the future). But, for me, it went way beyond the premise, thanks to some excellent collaboration between writer Marshall Pruett, who coaxed superb insight from our chosen drivers, and RACER’s artist-in-residence, Paul Laguette, whose chosen style for the illustrations gave these ribbons of asphalt a beautifully throwback look and feel.

Our five drivers included six-time NTT IndyCar Series champ Scott Dixon, who chose Watkins Glen’s Inner Loop, aka “The Bus Stop” (top left), two-time IMSA DPi champ Ricky Taylor who went for Turn 9 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (top right), IndyCar ace Pato O’Ward (Turn 1 and 2 at Detroit Belle-Isle), IMSA’s winningest driver Bill Auberlen (VIR’s Esses), and the legend that is Mario Andretti, who chose the wild plunge from Ocean Boulevard to Linden Avenue on the original Grand Prix of Long Beach street track layout.

What I love about the drivers’ descriptions is the way they describe their chosen turns, and the challenge they present, in forensic, nuanced detail, while never losing sight of the exhilaration they deliver. They talk of the fine margins, and the immense satisfaction of getting it absolutely right…or the consequences of getting it just that little bit wrong.

Here’s O’Ward’s breathless opening to his description of the start of a lap on Detroit’s Belle Isle street course:

“Detroit-Belle Isle Turn 1 into Turn 2 is extremely underrated. Every time you do it correctly, you’re like, ‘F*** yeah!’ It’s just hard to nail and it’s hard to be the best there because it’s so fast. And the probabilities of you hitting the wall if you make a little mistake are very high. So it’s super-high commitment and you’ve got to frickin’ ship the thing, because you don’t have a lot of options; it’s a single groove and it’s crazy bumpy, too.”

Click to view full-sized image.

And turning back the clock four decades, check out Mario’s colorful recollection of launching off the cliff edge onto Long Beach’s Linden Ave.:

“You went from Ocean Blvd. past the start/finish line, then a right down Linden Ave. When you turned onto Linden, it was downhill and the world just fell away. The road left you, and the car had a tendency — depending on the speed you ran — to fly. If you weren’t flying a little bit, then you wasn’t really going anywhere.”

Terrific insight from the guys behind the wheel, and a package that worked wonderfully well. That’s all an editor can ask for. Can’t wait to do the oval sequel next.

To find out more about RACER magazine, and to purchase a print or digital subscription, click HERE.

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