The 8 Greatest Race Tracks in the World: A list of the 8 greatest race tracks around the world and why they're so great.
There are a lot of race tracks in the world (in fact, 55+ in the US alone) but only a handful are truly great tracks. Few places in the world can stir the senses like the smell of burning rubber and the roar of engines. It's enough to make anyone forget about the troubles of their daily lives. And if you're lucky enough to be at a race, the cheers of the crowd will give you chills. With the upcoming Formula 1 season on the horizon, we're counting down the 8 best race tracks in the world (in no particular order).
One of the personal favorites at Standing Start, Spa-Francorchamps is an exhilarating motor-racing circuit in Stavelot, Belgium dating back to 1925. Spa plays home to the Belgian Grand Prix Formula One race as well as endurance events like the 24 Hours of Spa, 6 Hours of Spa, and the Spa 500.
Much like other historic race tracks, Spa-Francorchamps used public roads that linked the towns of Francorchamps, Malmedy, and Stavelot. This original layout still exists as public roads and can be driven today. A notable part about these older tracks is that there were no safety modifications done to the shoulders of the track, so easily a race car could careen into a tree or electric pole if they weren’t careful.
Spa-Francorchamps was a very dangerous track due to the high speeds and elevation changes and claimed many lives over the track’s history - in just ten years of 1960-70, it claimed at least 10 lives.
Nowadays, Spa is known for its Eau Rouge and Raidillion corners which need to be taken flat out to ensure a fast exit on to the long straight. It combines a corkscrew downhill and uphill combination with a blind exit, which as you can imagine will make for some stressful wheel to wheel action.
Possibly the most famous track in the USA, Laguna Seca is a motor-racing circuit celebrated by motorsports fans worldwide. Formerly called Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (and currently WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca), this track in southern California showcases desert like conditions and of course the famous downward Corkscrew turn.
Laguna Seca had its first race held in 1957 and has gone on to host IndyCar and IMSA events since. It’s more of a popular track among weekend racers looking to hone their own driving skills in their daily drivers or fully on race builds with open lapping days and hosted club events days.
Going back to the Corkscrew turn - this is often considered one of the most challenging turns for a road circuit. It features an 18 meter drop following a blind crest and requires total dedication to trusting your car, turn angle, and speed. It is also only about two-three car widths wide which makes for tough traffic conditions and passing.
The popularity of this track was made only more famous by inclusion in games like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo, capturing a huge audience of gamer drivers to virtually race this amazing course.
Circuit de Monaco
Get out your finest champagne and board your yacht because we are heading to Monaco! This street circuit hosts the Monaco Grand Prix of Formula One every year and is one of the most viewed and famous races of the year. It’s also referred to as Monte Carlo, or just Monaco.
This street circuit has not changed much since its initial race in 1929. The starting line has moved a few different places along the track and barriers have been added to slow some sections.
Monaco features many very tight hairpins and slow corners on a very tight two lane track which makes for very little passing opportunities. It’s mostly accepted that race teams win at Monaco by a smart pit strategy - when to pit for tires and fuel.
Another unique feature of Circuit de Monaco is the tunnel section which runs under the Fairmont Hotel. It is very high speed in this tunnel and drivers often complain about the strain on their eyesight - going from daylight to dark and back to day.
All in all, Monte Carlo is one of the world’s most unique tracks that can be driven year-round on the streets of Monaco - if you have the buck for it!
“The Green Hell'' is a name that couldn’t be more accurate when describing the Nurburgring (Nordschleife) circuit. Nurburgring Nordschleife is maybe the world’s longest race circuit, sitting at 20.8km (12.9 mi) long with 154 turns. Nurburgring was completed in 1927 as a proper race track, but also as a one-way toll road that anyone could drive on for a fee.
One of the original “Ringmeisters” Jackie Stewart gave this track the nickname of the Green Hell as it hosted the German Grand Prix from 1951-1984 (minus a few years in that range). The track was very dangerous by nature of having so many corners and high speed straights, only to be protected by a thin barrier between the track and the wooded forest.
A much shorter GP-Strecke was built to host the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring in 1984 and has hosted the GP there since.
Besides F1, Nurburgring hosts a huge variety of races from a 24 Hour endurance race to regular DTM and Motorcycle races. As mentioned earlier, the Nurburgring is especially unique as it is a toll road that can be driven on off-race days. This makes for a large tourist economy as well as rental cars and ride-alongs with experienced drivers. Ride along driver Sabine Schmitz was dubbed “Queen of the Nurburgring” for her proficiency and knowledge of this huge race track and we will miss her dearly.
We look forward to seeing Nurburgring continue to thrive as this is one of the greatest race tracks in the world.
Circuit de la Sarthe
Circuit de la Sarthe, aka Le Mans, is another one of the greats to come from Europe. This 13.6km (8.5mi) track opened in 1923 and is host to one of the most notable annual race events - the 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans).
Located in northwest France, Circuit de la Sarthe is one of the highest speed tracks in the world. The official speed record made in 1988 was 407 km/h (253 mph) by Team WM Peugeot. The track has seen a few changes since then, including a kink on the long straight that has slowed the possibility of breaking this record.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest active endurance race in sports car history and is possibly the most prestigious. Endurance racing is like no other form of racing as there are multiple classes of cars on the track at the same time despite their horsepower and downforce, in addition to driver changes when teams feel necessary.
This particular endurance race usually has around 60 cars racing at a time. Due to the long history of the race happening since 1923, there’s too much history to cover in this article however our favorite point in the race’s history was of Ford vs Ferrari (seen the movie?) in the 1960s.
Daytona, Florida, USA - home to one of the greatest tracks in the world?
In our opinion, Daytona Speedway is one of the most iconic tracks in the world due to its cultural significance in racing in addition to developing an entire race series of NASCAR. The normal banked track is home to the Daytona 500, however we are huge fans of the Daytona 24 Hours held here.
The track itself is quite simple in both the NASCAR layout and the 24 Hours layout but the magic comes from the facility and history at Daytona. It was designed to have the highest banking (31°) to allow the cars to reach higher speeds and have a better view for fans at the track. The facility was one of the largest at the time of opening in 1959 and can currently hold over 100,000 spectators depending on the configuration.
We’ve attended quite a few Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona ourselves and it’s an amazing experience if you are able to attend. Great exposure to the teams and drivers with close proximity to the pit lane.
The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, aka Monza Circuit, is one of the oldest race circuits in the world having been built in 1922. Monza Circuit features a 5.8km (3.6mi) Grand Prix track that has hosted the Italian Grand Prix since 1949.
Like most tracks of this age, it has had many circuit changes and updates in the years since. Since opening, Monza has claimed the lives of over 52 drivers and 30 spectators - mostly due to its very high speed around all of the corners, long straights, and lack of run-off areas. Three time world champion Formula One driver Ayrton Senna lost his life in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix here.
Formula One cars hit speeds of over 340 km/h (210 mph) on the fastest track on the F1 circuit so they must focus on perfect braking and exit speed through corners.
We think that this is one of the greatest tracks in the world for its long history of consistent races, high sustained speed, and simplistic design in beautiful Monza, Italy.
Mount Panorama Circuit
Last but not least, Mount Panorama Circuit is another very unique motor racing circuit in Bathurst, Australia. You may have noticed that we like street circuits, and Mount Panorama is another one of those that runs as a normal road during off-race days. Opened in 1938, Mount Panorama Circuit is one of the longest street circuits at 6.2km (3.8mi) with one of the largest elevation changes of 174m (571ft).
During non-race days, Mount Panorama Circuit is open to the public and is used by locals of New South Wales.
The most notable races it plays host to are the Bathurst 1000, Bathurst 12 Hour, and Bathurst 6 hour endurance races. Cars that participate in these are mostly in the “Supercar” category, a special class developed in Australia featuring high speed touring cars.race track wall art.