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The best songs to get into gear on the circuit

The best songs to get into gear on the circuit - News

This weekend, the Supercars Championship motorsports series for touring and performance cars in Australia have confirmed that legendary native rockers AC/DC are to provide the theme music for the new 2021 season.

Their track ‘Realize’, which is from the band’s current number one album Power Up, will be used as the main theme to all televised coverage of the races down under.

The worlds of music and motorsport have been more closely linked than one would imagine. So here at TrackDays we’ve put our headphones on and cranked up Spotify to decipher and bring you five of the best songs associated with all things track based…

Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours is one of the best sellers of all time, with sales of over 40 million copies worldwide. But here in the UK, there is one thing that one of its songs will always be synonymous with to motor racing fans.

The unmistakable ending bass line of ‘The Chain’ was used by the BBC when they showed F1 coverage from 1978 - 1996, and then again from 2009 - 2015 when they aired coverage following ITV’s decision to let go of their broadcast rights of Formula 1.

Interestingly, it was never officially released as a single, but since the introduction of digital downloads and streaming services, it’s sold over 1.2 million copies under its own steam in the UK, and peaked at #81 in 2011.

British singer-songwriter Alistair Griffin was perhaps best known, prior to 2010, for his stint on the BBC pop reality show Fame Academy in 2003, where he finished second, with a couple of slipstream top 20 hits coming his way.

But it was when the very same channel used his single ‘Just Drive’ in a montage of clips to mark the end of the F1 season at that year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that he subsequently gained his first hit in six years, peaking at #38 in November of that same year.

Sky Sports then went onto use the song as the title theme for their coverage of F1 from 2012 to 2018, where it gained further ubiquity, and it was also used in the end credits of the F1 2012 video game by Codemasters.

When The Beatles’ lead guitarist took a year’s sabbatical from performing and releasing music in 1977, he travelled with the Formula One World Championship for all of that year, during which time he struck up a good friendship with both Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda.

What came out of that was the inspiration for this song, the second track from his self titled 1979 album, and its third single, which was also the first Beatles related release to be issued on a limited picture disc format.

Lyrically, it addresses the difficulties of achieving and maintaining success within the field of motorsport, and when it was released, Harrison waived royalties of the sales of the single to the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Fund, which had been established following the Swedish F1 driver’s death in 1978.

Lead singer and songwriter with Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler has always had a passion for motor racing, and is good friends with the former F1 and IndyCar driver Stefan Johansson after they met at the Austrian Grand Prix in 1986.

This collaboration with the country singer Emmylou Harris is a haunting, beautiful number, chronicling the highs and lows experienced by a Champ Car driver, also making reference to numerous renowned circuit tracks from the world of Champ Car racing; Phoenix, Long Beach, Indy, and of course Nazareth.

It’s the mention of the latter in both the title and the lyrics which have taken on an added poignancy, as four years after this song was released, and over 90 years after it was first opened, the Nazareth Speedway was closed for good for redevelopment purposes.

Not strictly tied to Formula 1 this one, but for its video alone we couldn’t let this one pass by. The third single from his chart topping Sing When You’re Winning album in 2000, ‘Supreme’ was another big hit (it peaked at #4 in the UK), and was accompanied by a short film called ‘Gentleman Racers’.

It was a tribute to the great British F1 champ Sir Jackie Stewart, and thanks to the wizardry of modern day technology, Robbie was able to be superimposed into archive footage as ‘Bob Williams’, a rival driver to Stewart, competing in a Formula 1 race.

The video also made extensive use of the ‘split screen’ technique that was a common feature of 1960s and 1970s films - most notably of all in the 1971 racing film Le Mans which this was heavily influenced by.

23 February 2021

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