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A still from Ron Howard's film Rush. (Jaap Buitendijk/Handout)
A still from Ron Howard's film Rush. (Jaap Buitendijk/Handout)


Holiday gift ideas for racing fans Add to ...

Got a racing fan on your holiday shopping list? Here are a few suggestions:

With director Ron Howard's film Rush the talk of the Formula One paddock over the summer, his take on the 1976 Grand Prix season and the battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda for the championship is top of mind. The movie goes on sale in early 2014, so a card with a promise of a great home video experience in late January might do the trick.

A good read related to Rush is Canadian author and F1 journalist Gerald Donaldson's James Hunt: The Biography, which can be found on several bookseller websites.

For something more contemporary, F1 commentator James Allen has published the fifth edition of his yearly season review, Winning At All Costs, shipping this week. The book brings together all the posts of the author’s popular “James Allen in F1” blog posts with updates added at the end of the year. It offers keen insight into the year that was in F1. As a bonus, all copies ordered from his website are signed editions. It is well worth the price (about $19 plus shipping).

If you have a younger racing fan on your list, the DreamWorks film Turbo, directed by Toronto's David Soren, is in stores and it’s a good bet. It's the underdog story of a snail who dreams of winning the famed Indianapolis 500.

Want to get on track? There are several hands-on driving schools to consider, including Mercedes Canada's officially sanctioned AMG Driving Academy, which offers one- and two-day courses at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont., and in Mont Tremblant, Que. The tracks hosted 10 Formula One races between them in the 1960s and 1970s.

The one-day basic training course gives customers a taste of high-performance driving and an understanding of the basic techniques needed to get a car around a racetrack quickly.

The two-day course is much more comprehensive, with data analysis, one-on-one coaching, and a skills competition. Both are limited to 12 drivers and 12 AMG cars, with every participant getting several opportunities behind the wheel of each vehicle.

The one-day AMG Basic class is $1,895, and the two-day course goes for $3,995. Mercedes Canada has several other courses available on its website.

BMW runs an excellent winter driving training course at the ICAR Circuit near Mirabel, Que. The school uses the BMW 3 Series models and classes are limited to 16 participants with two instructors. Students learn key lessons about better controlling their cars in snowy and icy conditions, and how to avoid trouble before it starts. One of the instructors is none other than Philippe Létourneau of Canada's Worst Driver on Discovery Channel. Doing well in the class is presumably a good way to avoid being on the show.

The one-day course is $795. Like Mercedes, there are other courses available on the BMW Canada website.

With Canadian Tire Motorsport Park revamping its Driver Development Centre, one of the hottest tickets this holiday season should be a day or two at its Bridgestone Racing Academy. The school runs open wheel Van Diemen F2000 race cars.

The new 2.88 km Driver Development Centre road course can be configured in several different layouts with short and long versions. The new facility will also have new classrooms and a hospitality centre, which would be great for corporate events. Courses at the Bridgestone Academy start at $295 and go all the way to $3,995 for full-day private coaching.

If you’d rather watch the experts drive, consider a trio package for June's Canadian Grand Prix. The tickets allow F1 fans to sit in three different grandstands over the three days, giving them varied views of the action. The packages proved to be a hit when launched last year and they might be tougher to find as the race approaches due to their limited quantity. Another bonus is that the price remains unchanged from last year: $485 for gold grandstand seats, $449 for silver, and $267.50 for bronze. Tickets can be purchased online.

An unusual item comes from the On a Six Pence website. It offers a print with the names of all world champions in a racing periodic table. It includes every F1 champion since the series began in 1950, with details of each driver and the number of wins scored in the title season. The prints come unframed and they can be personalized to include the owner's initials in an additional cell.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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