As you may remember from geography lessons, rubber is big in Malaysia. But there's a better way to appreciate it besides attending museums and tree-tapping demonstrations, and that's the Malaysian Grand Prix. Scheduled for April 8 at Kuala Lumpur's hyper-modern Sepang Circuit, the tire-scorching event is the second competition in this year's World Formula One Championship, which makes it all the more intriguing. If the much-vaunted first race in Melbourne on March 18 is where the kinks are discovered, then it's in the second race that the real drama begins to unfold. Will world champ Fernando Alonso repeat his Renault success at McLaren? Can Kimi Räikkönen ably replace the retired Michael Schumacher for Ferrari? Better still, says Kevin Alavy of research consultancy Initiative Sports Futures, "It's easier to get tickets at Sepang than at many other circuits." One reason: the lack of a homegrown Michael Schumacher means that interest among Malaysians hasn't reached top gear. Three-day passes are still available from $200. For extra drama, make sure you catch one of Sepang's "track days." This is when enthusiasts are allowed to take their own cars around the same track used by the pros. If you're without wheels, hook up with one of the track-day regularsmany offer high-speed rides and lessons. Call the Sepang Circuit on (60-19) 383 7865 for an introduction, dates and costs. And put Malaysian rubber to the use that nature intended.