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My Top 5 Motor-Racing Circuits of the world

Updated on April 19, 2011

What qualifies? And what are the criteria?

Motor-racing circuits are complex things. They are not just 'circles' as people continuously insist on calling them. Nor are they just random blobs with straights and corners. They are intricately put-together, with a great deal of thought going into the raceability of the circuit, and especially the safety - can there be a catastrophic accident on the circuit that can be easily dealt with? Then there is the infrastructure - it must be easy to get around and use. What about the spectators grandstands - how will they be designed, and how much of the racetrack can they see? If all they see is a grass mound, it's a poorly designed racetrack.

In choosing this list, I'm taking into account all of the above criteria, and essentially, any motor-racing circuit of the world is fair game. However, the circuits I've chosen here are not necessarily the best at satisfying all of these criteria. They will not be the most balanced, but nor will they be brilliant in one way and rubbish in all the others. The circuits I've chosen combine good design, with the excitement and thrill of motor-racing that spectators come for, and that is something that is priceless and can sometimes never be designed.

One last thing before we begin, many in the know will expect me to put the legendary full-course Nurburgring Nordschliefe in here, and simply for that reason I have omitted it. A great track in its own right, I have left it out in order to showcase other tracks that I feel are just as fantastic in their own right.

Interlagos - a truly great track.
Interlagos - a truly great track. | Source

5th - Interlagos

This circuit is a real beauty. Currently used by the Formula 1 circus for the Brazilian Grand Prix, it is in many ways a bit of a so-called "mickey-mouse" circuit - it constantly weaves back and forth and in on itself like a gigantic karting track.

Yet it delivers great racing year in, year out. The fantastic Turn 1, a downhill left-hander, is wide and open and host to many a spectacular overtake. The racing line weaves from left to right across the track through the following turns 2 and 3, meaning getting the ideal line is critical. It enables the following driver to try to get the switchback, and means cars can constantly swap positions as they navigate these turns.

I've also picked this track for the spectacle and the atmosphere it delivers. The Brazilian fans are some of the most passionate and enthusiastic in the world, equal in enthusiasm to even the Italians at Monza. The cheering and fanfare of the crowd is so raucous it can be heard above the cars as they scream off on the opening lap.

It is a truly great racing track, emphasised even more by the current lacklustre schedule of the Formula 1 circus.

Silverstone - fast but technical
Silverstone - fast but technical | Source

4th - Silverstone

Despite being potentially biased in this selection, I have positioned Silverstone as only 4th on my top 5 list of motor-racing circuits of the world. Yet it in many ways does deserve to go higher.

It is a traditional track. Built on an old WW2 airfield, it has always been high speed and high excitement. Formula 1 cars zoom around this circuit at speeds of over 170 mph on some of the straights.

Yet it also has the slower corners to boot too. These mix of corners give a real mix up of a circuit, and present a truly testing challenge to the driver. The setup of his car must be finely tuned, for he needs to strike a fine balance between driving a car that is fast on the straights and has a high top speed, to a car that is fast around the corners, has enough downforce and grip to beat its competitors.

Daytona International Speedway - Designed for speed, the arena of speed. Many names, all true.
Daytona International Speedway - Designed for speed, the arena of speed. Many names, all true. | Source

3rd - Daytona International Speedway

This will be a real surprise for many readers on here, but it is a track that I consider a true great. Situated in Florida, USA, Daytona is mostly well-known for the famous Daytona 500 race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Its 2.5 mile oval means speeds of over 200 mph are often reached as cars "tow" each other down the straights and even through the corners, drafting and slipstreaming each other to go faster.

What is often forgotten about Daytona is that it is technically a "roval" - it has a traditional European road course inside the oval, utilizing parts of it in some cases. This layout is used for the 24 hours of Daytona, another spectacular race and one of the few 24 hour races in the world, besides the famous 24 Heures du Mans - the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It is ultra high speed and ultra high thrills. It is a fantastic race-track in its own right regardless of its configuration.

The Circuit de la Sarthe. A "true spectacle"
The Circuit de la Sarthe. A "true spectacle" | Source

2nd - Le Mans

Having mentioned Le Mans already it is worth putting in this list. An 8 mile long circuit, it is one of the longest circuits in the world, but is also one of the most recognizable racing circuit names in the world. The home of endurance racing, the full course of the Circuit de la Sarthe (which is its full name), utilises several public roads in order to create this giant of a circuit.

It's circuit layout has been changed multiple times over the years, and the Mulsanne straight has now been butchered with chicanes, reducing the straight to a series of still considerably long straights.

Although it has increased its safety standards a long way since the 50s, it was once a very dangerous place to race. The pit straight was once just 12 feet wide, a measly four metres. There was also no separation between the racetrack and the pits!

It is 2nd however for its uniqueness and extremes, for its atmosphere when there are headlights piercing through the dark amidst the backdrop of roaring engines. It is a true motor-racing spectacle.

So, four down and one to go...

And now the one you have all been waiting for. For this circuit I have balanced the criteria I declared at the top of this hub, as well as taking into account its fame. For me, there can only be one winner....


1st - Spa-Francorchamps

For me, this is the best circuit in the entire world at the present time. It has perhaps the most well-known and famous corner in motor-racing, Eau Rouge. It is blisteringly fast in any car, and still manages to retain the character of its older layout, which was even more extreme and fast.

It is easy to get to for many Europeans. Being located in Belgium, it is easy to access for Germans, Italians, the Spanish, Brits and the French, as well as a whole host of other nationalities. It is not tight, nor it is in any way compromising. When you look at the track layout it looks like a mere blob, yet in a race-car it is simply phenomenal. It is what motor-racing is all bout; high speed and high drama.

GT Planet's excellent rendition of the Spa Francorchamps circuit plan. A truly special place.
GT Planet's excellent rendition of the Spa Francorchamps circuit plan. A truly special place. | Source

Looking back at this hub after having done it, I admit that it was very hard to cut my favourite motor-racing circuits of the world down to such a small selection. If I was to have a bigger selection I would most certainly have included the Nurburgring Nordschleife (only omitted here for originality purposes), and would most certainly have included Suzuka.

Another circuit I would have included would probably have been Mosport. Little known about, and highly underrated that is a true classic of a circuit.


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      Tony Geinzer 4 years ago

      My top 5 Racing Circuits, Globally are 1. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2. LeMans 3. Silverstone, 4. Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and 5. Daytona International Speedway.

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      samantha 4 years ago

      i like racing circuits