Hooniverse Asks- What's Your Favorite Race Track?

Whether it’s a big asphalt oval, a rally course that covers multiple nations, or a sinewy street course between historic beach-front properties, there are a lot of venerated race venues out there. Some bring little more than a smooth stretch of macadam, and are otherwise nondescript. Others, such as Indy, with its yard of bricks, are considered with reverence. Do you have a fav?

Next month is the 36th running of the Long Beach Grand Prix, and while that race hasn’t been an actual “Grand Prix” for years, it remains one of the only street course races run in the U.S..
Sadly, that track is less like the classic Grand Prix of Monaco, and is more like a giant k-rail kart track, and is personally one of my least favorite venues.
My most favorite is a track that’s less than ten minutes from my house- that being the 1/2-mile oval at Irwindale. It’s not long, it’s not beautiful, but there’s some slammin’ good racing that goes on there most Saturday nights.
A track that I hope to drive on one day is, of course, the Nurburgring. Called the Green Hell by Jackie Stewart, that 13-mile track is considered to be one of the most taxing to both car and driver. That’s a tax I’m willing to pay.
So, do you love the “Ring,” or is Daytona’s superspeedway more your cup of 10W/40? Maybe, like me, you prefer the intimacy of a smaller venue like Irwindale or Acton? Or, the long, snake-like multi-stage rally courses, or perhaps, Pike’s Peak?
So, which is it? Do you have a favorite race track? And if so, is it because you like to watch the racing there, or you like to actually race there? Let us know.
Image sources: [Daytonabeachresort.com, cvam.com]

66 Comments

  1. hands down Circuit de Monaco.. i love that it's on city streets, i love the weather, i love the sea, i just love Monaco!

    1. I agree with everything you are saying.
      However, I don't love the F1 race there…of all the circuits, Monaco seems to be the most "he who qualified on pole will finish first". Though I have fond memories of watching Senna rock it in the rain.

      1. agreed, it's not as exciting as other tracks.. but the heritage is what gets my vote every time… like, think of the car you'd want most (other than a caterham) and then think of the SLEW of cars better than it in one or all ways.. yet you want THAT car.. you know what i mean.

  2. Spa-Francorchamps, despite the "modifications" over the last couple decades. The 1-2 punch of Eau Rouge/Raidillon and the butt-puckering Blanchimont are a thing of beauty.
    As far as US tracks go, Road Atlanta and Road America are hard to beat.

    1. +1 on Spa, mostly because of Eau Rouge. In the Schumacher era, taking that flat out (I mean ZERO lifting to the throttle) seemed to be what separated the men from the boys. I've driven Spa many many times in NFS/Shift, and I can't for the life of me understand how they do it.
      In terms of actual spectating, I'd have to say Lime Rock for its combination of proximity, scenery, and laid-back atmosphere. Any place I can sit on a grassy hillside and watch old cars make great sounds and not have to worry about my kids is okay with me.

    2. Spa is simply tits. Lots of room for overtaking, high speeds, blind corners. It’s everything a race track should be. I think it’s a favourite for many an F1 fan.

    3. Agreed, Spa is the most exciting F1 race to watch. I hate the mods they've made to the track, but I hate more watching drivers die, so in the end it's a good thing. I'd like to see F1 races on the Nurburgring too.
      In the US I'm fond of Laguna Seca and Sear's Point.

        1. Interesting. That seems like it would turn the Eau Rouge/Raidillon into some kind of a Belgian Corkscrew. Or I could have just invented a new kind of alcoholic drink.

  3. Easy, the track I drove last sunday 🙂
    the Nurburgring… It truly is a thing of beauty!
    But it is also ridiculously dangerous… I almost parked my '99 1,6l 16valve Ford Focus Ghia into the armcore at Bergwerk… I've gone of track before at Adenauer Forst ( once as a driver, once as a passenger ) but nowhere nearly as freakishly scary as the one last sunday 🙂 I saw about 20 accidents on sunday due to the bad track-conditions… ( after they happened of course ) seriously, if you ever have even the remotest shot of driving it, just do it, whatever car or circumstances, it's a blast 🙂
    I've driven 15 laps on it since discovering the beauty of spending weekends there ( in real life, thousands in Forza, GT and GTR:E ) 🙂

      1. wow man that blows…
        I live at only 3 hours driving from the nurburgring, so we ( me and my wife ) go there any chance we get to watch races and drive some laps ourselves… we've never been able to do it with 'supercars' (or even slightly decent cars ) but we just love trying to fly around there as fast as we can with whatever car we've got at the time 🙂 ( Golf IV Break TDi, Golf V TDi, Ford Focus SE Ghia and in 2 weeks her Toyota Aygo )

  4. I have not been to many race tracks in person. My favorites to drive on virtually and to watch on TV are Nurburgring, Spa, and Monaco.

    1. Toledo is a great track. We've raced there. It's little brother, Flat Rock, can be a challenge. We actually had to detune our car for a Flat Rock race because with the Toledo setup it wanted to spin the tires halfway down the straight. So, the 2 bbl carb went on.

  5. Like yesterday's question, this one is difficult to answer because of the effects of time and use. Spa is a great track, but some of what made it interesting in the first place has been eroded over the last few years. Some of the great tracks of the past no longer exist. Riverside International Raceway, near where I grew up, is now a shopping mall and housing developments. The same with Ontario Speedway, near where my parents live now. The Nurburgring Nordschleife is no longer used by F1, but is still in use with touring car races, including the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. The Dakar rally is no longer run in Africa. The Mille Miglia and Targa Florio, scenes of great racing for much of the 20th Century, were discontinued due to changing attitudes about safety. It's sad, really.
    However, I am able to come up with one overall favorite. I love the Nurburgring for the outright test of skill and machine. I love Monaco for the scenery and the history. I love Bristol because it's a great race and I've partied there over a race weekend. I'd love to go to a race at Daytona. However, if I could pick only one race to go to and one track to visit, it would be the Bathurst 1000 on the Mount Panorama circuit. Watching the V8 Supercars drivers take on the same track as their predecessors have since 1963 — a demanding, grueling test of speed and reliability — is great fun. It's a beautiful venue, and rich in history. People like Peter Brock, Alan Moffat, and Jacky Ickx have raced in Holden Toranas, Ford Falcons, Nissan GT-Rs, Ford Cortinas, Holden Commodores, Morris Coopers, along with BMWs and Jags among others.

    1. I'm not familiar with Mt. Panorama, I'll have to look into it. I agree that many of the truly great racetracks are now gone or modified almost beyond recognition. Changing times and fortunes end up destroying many great things, dammit.
      If I could pick a track to visit (and drive!) it would be the 'Ring. I don't care which race, I'll watch 'em all.

    2. I want to say Mt Panorama as well. Driving over Skyline at 60 km/h (when the track reverts to a public road) is scary enough. You can't see where the road goes as it crests, you just have to turn in and have faith. I can't imagine doing it at race speed.

    1. Only been to Mosport once. Watched motorcycles in a cold drizzle.
      Yes, awesome track, even though the guys weren't really pushing it that day.

  6. the only courses I've actually raced have been Firebird Raceway outside Boise ID, and the many autocross courses set up by Snake River Region SCCA / EISCCC. As for races I've "driven" in games, watched on TV, etc., I would have to pick Laguna Seca as my favorite. I hope one of these years to make it to a Sevenstock and have a chance to drive it myself, even if the corkscrew scares the crap out of me.

  7. In no particular order…
    <img src="http://www.brainerdraceway.com/images/stories/grounds/maps/09roadcoursemap.jpg"&gt;
    – Brainard International Raceway, the original Donnybrooke (3.1m) circuit.
    <img src="http://www.iomguide.com/images/TTmap-big.gif"&gt;
    – Isle of Man, Mountain Course
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/pacific_raceways_map.jpg"&gt;
    – Pacific Raceways
    <img src="http://www.starmotorcycle.com/images/star/streetswillow.jpg"&gt;
    – The Streets of Willow
    <img src="http://www.yorkmotorsport.com/news/archives/road_america_map.jpg"&gt;
    – Road America

    1. Have a thumbs up for the TT course. Looking at your course guide, I found it amusing to note that corner 32 is known as "The Thirty Third". Those zany Manxmen.

      1. i wish i had a photo of my dad's "family truckster" (it was really just an early '80s GM (olds, i think…) full size station wagon) taking me and my 3 (at the time) brothers up pike's peak…. we pulled over due to over-heating a couple of times….
        I can honestly say that i have had few experiences scarier than getting out of the rear facing seat of a vehicle pulled to the outside of a road when young and drugged up on motion sickness medication…. it was a fun trip though… i bought some cheap piece of crap to remember the trip… and it broke before we got down the mountain… no. i don't miss the 80s

      1. If you are ever near the area again, take the cog train up Pikes Peak. You'll enjoy it thoroughly, and the view is the most awesome you'll see anywhere. Remember that Katharine Lee Bates wrote "America The Beautiful" from the summit of Pikes Peak.

  8. Some people dedicate a small part of every day to designing their ultimate treehouse. They write themselves little notes like "Use larger branches at split for stadium seating". My notes to myself, when not mechanical, look more like "Uphill, off-camber double apex left crests into downhill, off-camber right, increasing radius."

  9. Road Atlanta. It is the closest track to me. Has elevation changes like few others, lots of curves and long straights. I've been going to races there for 20 years. It is the only track that I have actually driven on (at parade lap speeds). It has gone through lots of changes for the better in the last 20 years.

  10. hard to pick just one…. the brickyard here in indy… as well as it's infield f1/AMA course.. i've ridden around both (at no more than 35 mph… walked both on foot… (with a dog or two)… and watched quite a few races there….
    haven't been to any other track in person… other than drag strips and dirt ovals… but… having played forza 1 & 2… and GT1-4… i don't know that i can pick any others…..
    i really want to see the belgian gran prix some day though….. i love Spa

  11. My vote goes for my local short track….Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger WI. Why you ask? Because I can go there any given Sunday in the summer and see some great racing, have some cold beers and overall enjoyable time. Plus, if it weren't for local short tracks, there would be no large scale organized racing in this country.

    1. dirt tracks are awesome! the variety of races that are run on them make it that much better. i support my local dirt ovals at least once a month by paying admission…

  12. Current: the full course at Suzuka (it has a little of everything)
    All-time: the Österreichring (gorgeous scenery surrounding a wickedly fast layout with only cursory nods to safety. Later remodeled as the A1 ring, now sits abandoned and half demolished due to political asshattery)
    [youtube KxUXpnGI648 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxUXpnGI648 youtube]

  13. Mine is a little dirt track out in Mesquite, TX known as Devil's Bowl Speedway. It's a little piece of crap with rickety stands, an awful parking lot, deplorable restrooms, and getting there is a bitch… but I love the place. They used to run World of Outlaws (I think it began there, actually) there years ago, but supposedly the ownership didn't want to make improvements to the facilities to keep them around, and although it sucks to not be able to see WoO out there any more, it's still fun to see modifieds, late models, and Sprints on Saturday nights. It's not a huge superspeedway like Daytona, and the races are more redneck's night out than enlightening experience, but the ambience of a shitty little dirt track out in the middle of nothing is just a guilty pleasure for me. And judging by the crowds out there some nights, many other hoons as well.

  14. Since Indy has already been represented, I'm going to have to go with Mid Ohio. Neat layout, excellent events (Vintage Days is awesome,) and a tent where you can buy a giant iced tea with free refills. Man has that tea come in handy.
    Also, the Indianapolis Speedrome is an excellent example of the classic stock car track. 1/5th mile asphalt oval, and they specialize in a three-hour figure-8 enduro. Plus, it's about a half mile from my house. On a good weekend, I can smell the Turbo Blue from my porch.

  15. Full disclosure time: The only track I've ever driven was Willow Springs (and that 9th turn is a bitch, lemmetellya). So, by default, Willow is my favorite for lack of comparisons. That said, I have two driving experiences on my bucket list: The 'Ring and Caeusescu's Folly (the Transfagarasan Highway) in Romania.

  16. Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. Grew up a few miles away from this track. Listening to the AMLS cars I think had a good part in my becoming Hooner, oh the sound.

  17. Sebring International Raceway – one of the finest racing experiences to be had anywhere, and its an awesome track for drivers and cars to strut their stuff

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