Say the word “Spa” to a motorsports fan, and the first thing they’ll probably think of is the legendary Spa-Francorchamps racing circuit in Belgium. At the end of 2021, crews began the extensive work of modernizing this legendary complex ahead of the planned return of motorcycle racing in 2022. The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme Endurance World Championship (or FIM EWC) is currently scheduled to make its triumphant return to Spa from June 2 through 5, 2022 for the 24 Heur Spa Motos.  

Different series have different safety requirements for track certification, and of course even casual observers likely know that motorcycle racing is significantly different from four-wheeled racing. As racing history nerds will very quickly tell you, the first race ever held at Spa back in 1921 was, in fact, a motorcycle race. Technology and speed have advanced considerably since that time, though—and safety changes were overdue, as the death of Formula Two racer Anthoine Hubert during a race in 2019, as well as a number of non-fatal-but-still-serious crashes, can attest. 

Thus, CEO Nathalie Maillet oversaw a plan back in 2019 to renovate the circuit and bring it into the 21st century. Tragically, in August, 2021, Maillet was murdered by her husband—but her dream to modernize Spa-Francorchamps nevertheless lived on. After all, Spa is the rare kind of track where, if you mention individual corner names around racing fans, they can instantly picture them. La Source, Eau Rouge, Les Combes … not many tracks are on a corner-name-recognition basis.  

Thus, the plan was to keep the inimitable character of the circuit while simultaneously enhancing safety for racers competing there. No big deal, right? We kid, it’s a huge deal. How huge? €25 million (approximately $28,338,750) seems pretty serious, by any standard. 

Careful analysis of how and why racers have crashed—in addition to consideration of circuit certification requirements from the FIM and FIA, respectively—figured into configuration of the necessary changes. Additional gravel traps and runoff areas are the biggest part of it. A brand-new, state-of-the-art medical facility is also being constructed on-site, and of course there’s some modernization and construction of grandstand/spectator areas, as well.  

All of this has to be completed in time for the FIM and FIA to conduct their certification inspections in April, 2022. The timetable involves five months of intense construction work, but circuit organizers are confident that the completed work will be up to ringing in the next century of motorsports held within its confines. 

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