Marbella has its beaches, golf clubs and resorts, not to mention a lively social scene and a wide choice of water sports, but these are merely the iconic activities associated with this area. Also right on your doorstep are horse riding, one of Europe’s leading polo centres in Sotogrande, Spanish First Division football at Malaga FC, top flight basketball at Unicaja Malaga and even rugby union at Marbella’s very own rugby club.
What few people know is that this region is also popular with petrol heads – and we’re not just talking about the fun karting track in Mijas either. The affluence of a luxury destination such as Marbella brings with it a certain concentration of luxury cars ranging from cabriolets and limousines to classics and high-octane super cars. Often seen to congregate in the marina of Puerto Banús, where they paint a particularly glamorous picture alongside yachts and beautiful people, such vehicles personify the importance of motoring in Marbella.
This love affair is naturally not limited to cruising along Marbella’s boulevards with the top down – it also finds expression in a variety of car clubs that range from a Ferrari owners’ club to an American car club and similar associations for lovers of muscle cars, classics or custom-made motorbikes. Each group represents a different substratum of motoring enthusiasts in Marbella, and most organise car-related events such as shows, rallies, charity events and even Cannonball Runs.
Taking to the circuit
For those who want to take things that little bit further there is also circuit racing. Organised in the form of track days, racing circuits provide a safe and professional environment in which participants can take to the track, race, receive advanced instruction and either use their own vehicles or those provided.
In this regard the Costa del Sol is very fortunate to have two circuits close by that really stand out. The first is the Circuito de Jerez, an official competition-racing track that has hosted Formula One’s European Grand Prix and is home to the Spanish Motorcycle Grand Prix. Opened in 1985, it has seen legends like Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi conquer the tarmac in front of crowds upwards of 100,000, yet on track days this undulating circuit surrounded by sherry vineyards on the outskirts of Jerez de la Frontera can be your personal domain.
Thousands of petrol heads also travel to Jerez during the pre-season winter practice sessions, when many of the top teams use Jerez to prepare for a new year in Formula One. The only experience to top this is the exclusive Race Resort Ascari, an exquisite circuit in the valley near Ronda where members take their super cars through their paces.
Privately owned and operated, this is not a track accessible to all, but rather a members only club with some of the most luxurious facilities of any racing club in the world. Endowed with a stylish clubhouse complete with restaurant and pool area, Race Resort Ascari also features a boutique hotel, state-of-the-art garages and pits, and a mouth-watering collection of racing cars to try out in case you left yours at home.
Though this is a sumptuous, luxury facility reserved for a privileged few – and their guests – the Marbella region offers a great variety of motor racing experiences that can range from a private members club and professional racing circuit to an informal track day or family fun on the karting circuit.