Exploring

Ascari Circuit, Ronda and Carmona

After escaping the parking garage we head off to the Circuito Ascari. Ascari is currently the world’s best country club type track.

Set in the hills near Ronda in SE Spain the facility is tucked away from view and perfectly placed for a private member’s circuit. The track itself features a number of alternate layouts, and some interesting changes in elevation, including a steeply banked section of 17 degrees. Gravel traps use volcanic “scoria,” which Bob says is perfect for this application and he has only ever seen it before at Spa. It is round pellets of very light material that result in being near impossible to walk through and will trap an errant vehicle extremely well.

The facilities around the track are what makes this so impressive. Beautifully constructed of local stone they comprise the usual offices and briefing rooms, pit boxes opening onto pit lane, and an amazing multi-level garage filled with the most desirable range of toys up to past F1 cars, all available for serious driving. I have only shared a few photos of the cars that are used by Ascari as I would like to respect the privacy of the owners of the other amazing cars. The club house contains a 60-seat restaurant, terrace overlooking the track and a pool, what more can you want?

We were allowed the luxury of taking some laps, but only in the rental unfortunately. But as with the tour of the Barcelona Circuit our hosts made us most welcome.

We were sad to leave, but still had places to go and see, including Ronda, where the main feature is a deep gorge dividing the town.

A quick lunch, some photos and off again to stay overnight in Carmona on the way to Cordoba and La Mezquita, via Seville, or so Bob had planned. On the way, we looked at the map and decided we were running late, so let’s take a short cut across the hills.

Started off nicely, up the hill with scenic views, until the second-class road turned into virtually no road, a one lane wide goat track. This can’t be right, must have taken a wrong turn, so backtracked to the last intersection, and yes, we were on the right road. By this time we were committed, so praying nothing came the other way we persevered and made it over the top, with some odd looks from the locals. I was too busy being scared to take photos unfortunately. Having made the plain on the other side we arrived at the only town before Carmona, but road signs were not an important feature for this council obviously. Only locals would be silly enough to come this way so they should know where to go. So, reaching the center of town we took pot luck on how to get out again, and somehow made our way to Carmona.

Bob had chosen Carmona as it had a Paradores in an old castle. Back in the twenties Spain decided to use its supply of old castles, monasteries, and other assorted old buildings to build a system of hotels to encourage tourism. These are now high class establishments and highly sought after. Bob had stayed in one at Albacete when working for Kenny Roberts, and wanted to try one again. The castle lived up to its billing, but the service was awful. I don’t know if it was just this one, but it seemed to only cater for bus tours. At dinner us, and a few other individual guests, were treated as an afterthought, must get the bus loads served first and fast. Not recommended.

The sunset was amazing though.

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