The typical Formula 1 spectator is affluent and willing to pay for the extras - a party, high-class travel and a few days' travel before or after a race - and travel agencies, Web sites and Formula 1 itself are nurturing this segment of the travel industry.
As cities like Valencia, Abu Dhabi and Singapore and countries like Malaysia and South Koreq use Formula 1 to brand themselves as sports or tourism centers, they are attracting people that might not otherwise have gone there, for tourism during the race, and increasingly, for return visits. It is the problem of the distance to the new venues from the sport's core audience in Europe that has spurred the trend.
The exchange rates also helped encourage the British clientele as it cost almost as much to do a race in Europe as in Malaysia.
Cashing in on tourism runs right through the sport now, because the official Web site, Formula1.com, is offering a race travel service. The Hilton Hotels chain, which has been a sponsor of the McLaren Mercedes team, has created a motor racing club, Hilton Racing.
''With Hilton Racing, we created a promotional entity under which we could market our involvement in Formula One and possibly other motor sports as well,'' said Robin Fenwick, director of sports sponsorship for Hilton Hotels. ''Members get discounted breaks and get exclusive opportunities to come to races.''
Trevor Cook, a guide for companies that specialize in Formula 1 races, said that the Internet - which enables clients to book by themselves without an agency - has reduced business for the traditional travel agencies but increased the number of people attending races as tourism.
Last month, for example, Philip Robinson and Philip Locks, two fans from England who have been doing racing tourism for years, booked their whole trip on the Internet. They attended a MotoGP motorcycle race in Germany a week before the Formula 1 race at Hockenheim, the German Grand Prix. In between they fed other passions.
''I am interested in military history,'' Robinson said. ''The first day after the MotoGP we went to Colditz Castle, near Leipzig, the famous officer prison camp during the Second World War. It's about 20 or 30 miles from where the motorcycle Grand Prix was held, and there is a museum there. And then we went down to Austria for a few days and then another battlefield - Blenheim battlefield, near Karlsruhe, on the way to Hockenheim.''
As a reaction to the lost business from the Internet, Cook said, travel companies create trips that people cannot do by themselves. These include meeting drivers, visiting team factories, talking with Formula One journalists and photographers and other exclusive opportunities.
''It's a chance that the ordinary spectator cannot get, to meet a person from inside the paddock,'' he said.
Both of the companies that Cook works for, Page & Moy, of England, and Grand Prix Tours, based in Newport Beach, California, offer packages with options for an extra week for tourism.
For the Malaysian race, they add an optional week after the race to go to Thailand or Vietnam or other nearby countries. For the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, they fly clients to Beijing for four days, then take them to the Great Wall and to see the ancient terra-cotta warriors at Xian. That is followed by four days of sightseeing in Shanghai, crowned by three days at the race.
Such trips are not confined to Asia. Cook noted that fans from the United States often combine a week's vacation in Europe with a five-day race tour, because the airplane ticket is the biggest expense.
Cook has a wide-ranging clientele.
''We take 20-year-olds that are dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts, and we take 70-year-old pensioners that are still dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts,'' he said.
He also has a client who attends all 18 races of the season, Cook said.
''He's just a single guy, his only love is Formula One, he just keeps buying the tours,'' he said.