Today the longest circuit to host a Formula 1 race is the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium that was shortened from it's original length of 14 kilometer to its current 7. The old town to town races of the heroic past of which the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and the Carrera Panamericana were the remaining holdouts are a distant memory. Except for temporary street circuits in Monaco and now Singapore races are held on specially built and ever more antiseptic closed circuits.
Charles Jarrott, that wonderful chronicler and participant of motor racing at the beginning of the last century remarked that racing on closed circuits destroyed the charm and natural judgment required when racing on the open road and replaced it with the dreary monotony of grinding out a certain distance over the same road again and again, rewarding the drivers most reckless and daring rendered possible by the knowledge of the course. In fact he remarked how boring the last three-parts of the race had been on his way to victory at the 1902 Circuit des Ardennes and that he had not even bothered reconnoitering the circuit even though it was only fifty- three miles in length! To Charles Jarrott the continual passing and re-passing of the same landmarks were little more than tiring.
The current Formula 1 driver familiarizing himself with a new circuit in some oil-rich sheikdom can only dream of another Eau Rouge or 130R (Sazuka), such is his lot. The fan sitting in his $300 seat can hear but only see his heroes as they appear on the JumboTron.