Autodromo del Levante - Such An Italian Story
Autodromo del Levante is the racing circuit located near the city of Bari, in the Apulia region in southern Italy. This tiny venue, one of the smallest in Italy, was opened in 1989 and is also known as Binetto circuit, after the name of the nearby village.
Beginning of the long journey
Motorsport never was one of the most popular in this part of Italy but many racing enthusiasts and the Italian Motorsport Commission tried to change that. Already from 1950s, when some big events were held in the region, many attempts of constructing a proper circuit in the region were done but they all broke quickly.
Finally, in summer of 1979, the new plan was made by Nicola Favia who was the owner of who was the owner of nearby motocross circuit. The project was given a green light by the Italian Motorsport Commission but that was just a beginning of the long journey. The local authorities had other plans on the mind, so Favia battled several years before he decided to give up.
Second attempt was successful despite many obstacles
Former racer and engineer Michele Di Gioia took over the project. He revised the circuit plan and after many years the construction has finally started. By 1985 the circuit outline was clear to see, so Di Gioia again asked local authorities to help in completing the final stage of construction. His proposal was well accepted by the regional government which was prepared to help but under one condition – to take complete management control when the circuit when the construction is completed.
Resigned and disappointed, but not surprised with the demands of the authorities, Di Gioia decided to complete the process alone. Finally, in June of 1989, Autodromo del Levante was opened. A big crowd attended the opening of small motorsport venue and its first year the new circuit hosted most of the national racing series and some international events, on both two and four wheels. Some future stars, including Giancarlo Fisichella, Jacques Villeneuve and Emanuele Pirro all raced at Autodromo del Levante.
Autodromo del Levante is short but demanding circuit
The tiny clockwise-run circuit is just 1.577 km long, 10 m wide, and has 9 turns but it is quite technically demanding. The facilities are very good considering the size and importance of the venue. There are big control tower, 18 pit garages and the grandstand of 700 places. The full capacity of Autodromo del Levante is 7.000 spectators. The number of cars allowed per session is 24 while the number of bikes is limited to 30 per session.
After many successful years, this cozy and convenient track almost disappeared from the map. The new regulations moved most of the championships away from Autodromo del Levante. Plans for a circuit extension to bring back the top events have been floated several times but have never come to fruition, so nowadays the track is used for club events and tests.
Getting there and accommodation
Autodromo del Levante is easy to reach. It is situated some 25 km to the south from the Bari International airport Karol Wojtyla which offers numerous national flights, as well as the flights to many European destinations.
The city of Bari lies on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and offers a lot of accommodation possibilities in the city or its vicinity.
Address: Autodromo del Levante, Strada Provinziale 17 km 3.9, Binetto, 70020 BA, Italy
Phone: +39 080 99 211 48
Photo: italiavirtualtour.it, mapio.net