With the Macau Grand Prix into its seventh decade, we look back at one of the most historic, exotic and yet nail-biting road races in the world.
A sort of dreamy glaze comes to the eyes of anyone from the world of motorsport when mention is made of the Macau Grand Prix—you’ll find that they then immediately begin to roll out the memories. That the event—which this November celebrates its 64th anniversary—has achieved revered status among both fans and those who have competed here can be put down to a number of factors.
There’s its rich history, the event’s continued success across the decades, and the line-up of driving legends who have over the years have tackled the notoriously tricky Guia street circuit, from the late, great Ayrton Senna to Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard.
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One of the Macau faithful has been Philip Newsome, a man who has a unique connection to an event—and a city—he believes is unlike any other in the world. “You fall for it immediately,” he says. “Everyone says the same thing. Nothing really matches it.”
The UK-raised Newsome, who’s published official histories of the Macau Grand Prix to mark its 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries, first came to the city more than three decades ago.
It was at his first Grand Prix in 1985—won by Maurício Gugelmin—that Newsome began to think about the race’s history, but he came up empty following a search for anything that had been published to chart the event’s past.
“The first thing I did was put a very pretentious ad in Dollarsaver magazine that said ‘Researcher wants to meet people involved in the early years of the Macau Grand Prix.’” Newsome explains. “I got one response.”
That single reply, fortunately, came from Roger Pennels—and suddenly the history of the Macau Grand Prix started to open up before him.
“Roger had been on pole position in the very first Grand Prix,” says Newsome. “I went to his flat in North Point and he brought out this box, blew the dust off it and then brought out all these sepia photos from the first Grand Prix. It was like a gold mine. I became fascinated by it—it became a real work of love.”
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Newsome continues, “When you meet drivers 10 years later, they’ll say it was absolutely fantastic, and a mega-challenge. It’s surrounded by all the glitz and glamour of a full-blown Grand Prix, and when they come here they’ve never seen anything like it. It shows them what things could be like—what, say, Formula One is like. Whoever comes through Macau has to have talent, and teams from all over the world know that, and watch what happens here.”
Motorsport fans attending this year’s event, which runs from November 16-19, can look forward to plenty of thrills . In addition to the FIA F3 World Cup and FIA GT World Cup, high-speed highlights include the Suncity Group Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix and the nerve-wracking Suncity Group Guia Race 2.0T, which features TCR (touring car racing)-specification vehicles.
The line up also showcases the Macau Touring Car Cup, the Suncity Group Macau Road Sport Challenge for modified roadsters and the Suncity Group Chinese Racing Cup featuring young local talent.
Suncity Group 64th Macau Grand Prix
Life in the Fast Lane
For those who long to experience thrills in the fast lane, this year's event promises an action-packed weekend with drivers’ parties, gala dinners and car exhibitions at the city's major resorts, while a range of bars and nightclubs offer themed nights and special promotions.
For pre- and post-race celebrations, and plenty of big-screen action and promotions, check out the seriously comfortable McSorley's Ale House at The Venetian Macao (venetianmacao.com), the casual confines of the Irish Bar (irishbarmacau.com), or the 70in plasma screen at the StarWorld hotel’s Whisky Bar (starworldmacau.com). Another must for race fans is the Guia Circuit Pub, located at G/F, Shop AD, Zhu Kuong Building, Rua de Londres, Nape, +853 2875 2199, which is packed with racing memorabilia.
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