What makes a race track cool? History? Danger? Scenery? Atmosphere? We’ve taken all of these into account when picking the best race tracks in the world.
One of the most romantic circuits of them all, and home of the Italian Grand Prix, Monza has changed considerably from 1922’s original layout.
Monza is one of the fastest tracks in the world, with more than 70 per cent of the track driven at full throttle and the average speed (in a Formula 1 race) being over 155mph. Parabolica and the two Lesmos are probably the standout corners.
Home of the 12 Hours of Sebring, this track in Florida has seen its fair share of drama over the years. Bizarrely, a serial killer called Christopher Wilder (later found to be the ‘Beauty Queen’ serial killer) once raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring. He was killed the year after while trying to cross the Canadian border.
Alligators have been known to get onto the track, but luckily this hasn’t happened during a race. Lots of celebrities have taken part in the 12 Hours of Sebring – good old Walter Kronkite drove a Lancia in the 1959 race! Sebring has a long racing history and is definitely a cool track.
The centre of Japanese motorsport and home of the Japanese Grand Prix, the circuit was created in 1962. The track has an amusement park called Motopia, which aims to entertain children. Suzuka wants to get kids interested in motorsport and promote car culture.
For the last 30 years, Suzuka has hosted the 8-hour World Endurance Road Race. The race track moves with the times and is always an amazing place to watch racing.
Imola is one of the most atmospheric tracks, with corners such as Tamburello and Rivazza. Imola is, of course, where the late, great Ayrton Senna lost his life in 1994, a day after fellow-Formula 1 driver Roland Ratzenberger lost his.
The Italian circuit strikes a very emotional chord for many motorsport fans.
6 Laguna Seca
Even the name sounds cool! The track in California was built in 1957 after the nearby Pebble Beach Road Races were abandoned because they were too dangerous.
The track has seen all kinds of racing over the years, including Champ Car, Can-Am and the Superbike World Championship.
Laguna Seca is probably most famous for The Corkscrew – notoriously difficult to master, but boy it looks like great fun. Watch the video above to see AMG’s Driving Academy Lead Instructor showing off.
5 Circuit de la Sarthe
Home of the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours. Who hasn’t fantasized about competing in the world-famous 24-hour race?
Imagine barreling down the Mulsanne Straight, the scenery flashing by around you, night descending, the track coming alive as darkness falls, you cocooned in your car, hurtling through the night.
Le Mans, in north-west France, is without a doubt one of the best race tracks around.
4 Mount Panorama (Bathurst)
With corners such as Hell Corner and The Chase, you know this race track is going to be pretty awesome, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Mount Panorama is the home of the Bathurst 1000 or The Great Race, an annual touring car race which is considered to be the pinnacle of Australian motorsport.
What a setting, and what an adrenaline rush! To give you an idea of what it’s like to drive around the circuit, the video above shows Jenson Button on a flying lap in his McLaren Formula 1 car.
These days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Nürburgring, in Germany, is just used by various manufacturers for testing their performance cars.
It’s become a competition to see which manufacturer can set the best time – and this even started extending to such cars as the Seat Leon Cupra Estate… Ridiculous…
The ‘Ring has had some financial problems in recent years, but has lost none of its majesty and remains without doubt one of the world’s best race tracks.
One of the great things about this place is that you can pay a fee and take your own car out there and test your mettle.
Originally, the track had four configurations (the ‘whole course, ‘north loop’, south loop’ and ‘finish loop’ (or ‘concrete loop’), but the grand prix track and the north loop (or ‘Nordschleife’) are probably the most famous.
Sir Jackie Stewart once described the old track as ‘the green hell’. The track has changed over time, but racing is still notoriously tough around here.
Some drivers are experts on this circuit, perhaps none more so than new Top Gear presenter Sabine Schmitz – caning a Ford Transit van around the circuit in the clip above.
One of the most famous tracks in existence, Spa is home to Formula 1 and endurance racing in particular. Fans’ souls are stirred by the mere mention of Eau Rouge, with its 4G cornering loads, and the legendary Bus Stop Chicane.
Spa, unfortunately, has been the scene of many a fatal crash over the years and Formula 1 boycotted the Belgian GP in 1969 over safety concerns.
This prompted changes for 1970, but the track still wasn’t safe enough and Formula 1 would not return to Spa until 1983, by which time the track had been redesigned.
Fernando Alonso, with his usual mix of humour and eloquence, gives a great description of Eau Rouge in the above video.
The most glamorous race track in the world? Quite possibly. Monaco is of course a street circuit and this just makes it even cooler. The great and the good gather for the grand prix and many drivers live in Monaco, lending any race a special atmosphere.
It’s a very intimate track and generates heart-in-mouth racing and spectating. In fact, Monaco might be the ultimate test of driver skill – one small mistake and your race will probably be over.