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Our Favourite Place: Race Tracks!

On Thanksgiving Day in 1895, a 54-mile race from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois, marked the start of automobile racing in the United States. It's safe to claim that the history of auto racing dates back to the first successfully built internal combustion vehicle.  From the inaugural Grand Prix in the early twentieth century to today's high-tech races, race tracks have hosted innumerable moments of automotive greatness. Race tracks are where heroes emerge, and the rich history of car culture and motorsports is chronicled.

Many of us may already be late for the long (and expensive) road that is a racing career. Even yet, watching a race is an incredible experience. It enables enthusiasts to see drivers zoom past in front of us in their incredible vehicles. To put it mildly, the atmosphere at a professional racing event is fantastic. There's a buzz of burnt rubber in the air, screaming machinery being pushed by expert racers at the razor's edge, and people from all walks of life are cheering at the grandstands!

 

racetrack

Race tracks also serve as social hubs for the automotive community, bringing together people with a common interest through events other than racing. They are locations where enthusiasts can take their vehicles and put their abilities to the test at various track days, driving excursions, and instructional programs. Here are our top ten recommendations for the numerous racecourses in the United States where you should spend at least one day of your life.

10- Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, “The Greatest Race Course in the World,” is a few miles from downtown Indianapolis. This massive racetrack, a National Historic Landmark, hosts the Indianapolis 500 every Memorial Day, the largest athletic event in the world.

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The 2.5-mile race track, built in 1909, was the first “speedway.” IMS has an oval and infield GP track. Historically vital to American automobile culture and racing, the circuit hosted the 1950–1960 Indianapolis 500, part of the F1 World Championship. Between 2000 and 2007, Formula One returned to the IMS, which has also hosted NASCAR and IndyCar races.

However, the enthusiasm is not limited to professionals. Enthusiasts may also feel the excitement of the renowned racetrack in a 150-mph 2-seater Indy car, providing a rare and memorable peek into the world of motorsports.

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Length: 2.5mi (oval course), 2.6mi (GP road course)

Turns: 4 (oval course), 13 (GP road course)

Highlight: The entire track used to be surfaced by millions of bricks. It was paved with asphalt in 1961, but 85-90% of the bricks are still underneath. A yard of bricks was left out as the start-finish line. Those bricks have been there since 1909, giving the venue its nickname, “The Brickyard.”

9- Daytona International Speedway

Daytona International Speedway, built-in 1959 by NASCAR founder William "Bill" France Sr., is a renowned racing venue near Daytona Beach, FL, about 50 miles north of Orlando. It has held racing events for almost 50 years. It is most known for hosting the Daytona 500, probably the pinnacle of NASCAR races, and the Rolex 24-Hour endurance race, considered America's most famous sports car event.

 

Daytona International Speedway

Location: Daytona Beach, FL

Length: 2.5mi (tri-oval course), 3.56mi (sports car course)

Turns: 4 (tri-oval), 12 (sports car)

Highlight: The racetrack is one of the venues that host the Richard Petty Driving Experience, where you take a NASCAR race car out for a spin for up to 48 minutes all by yourself!

8- Lime Rock Park

Lime Rock Park has kept its original layout since it opened in 1957. The venue, a natural terrain road course, is just one-and-a-half miles long yet compact and demanding. Lime Rock is known for its unique spectator experience, with no grandstands, and invites spectators to picnic on the grassy hills overlooking the track.

 

Lime Rock Park

Lime Rock is home to several famous events, including the Trans-Am series, the International Race of Champions, SCCA regional races, and the Lime Rock Historic Festival. The venue provides supercar owners with a membership program called Lime Rock Drivers Club, which allows them to test their vehicles' limits on the race circuit. Many vehicle clubs hold public track day events at Lime Rock Park.

Location: Lakeville, CT

Length: 1.53mi

Turns: 7

Highlight: The track remains true to its original 1957 design. This means you can drive through the same curves and straights as legendary names like Mario Andretti, Paul Newman, or Dereck Bell.

7- Road Atlanta

Road Atlanta is a natural-terrain road course in the hills of North Georgia that opened in 1970. It is a park-like racing venue that hosts a wide range of activities, from professional and amateur races to motorsports team testing. The Petit Le Mans, an endurance race, is the track's main attraction and Georgia's most important international sporting event. The track is also the birthplace of Formula Drift and still hosts Drift Atlanta events today.

 

road atlanta

The track's challenging layout begins with an upward rise, and the first turn is followed by a succession of Esses, providing a thrilling experience for both drivers and spectators. Many car clubs offer public track days to fans who want to drive on Road Atlanta's pavement. 

Location: Braselton, GA

Length: 2.54mi (GP circuit)

Turns: 12

Highlight: The track’s signature event, the Petit Le Mans. Created by Dr. Don Panoz (father of Danny Panoz, who founded the luxury sportscar brand Panoz), the race is a 10-hour and 1,000-mile endurance race that attracts even overseas visitors to the track.

6- Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen International, also known as "The Glen," is located at the south end of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, New York. Yes, you read that correctly, New York; nevertheless, it is located in the upstate region. Since the late 1940s, it has hosted numerous events, including the F1 US Grand Prix for a period of twenty years. The Glen remains a motorsports hotspot today, hosting events ranging from NASCAR to the IMSA series. With its varied track configurations for various series and vehicles, elevation variations, and extended stretches, the Glen always provides fantastic action for spectators.

 

Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen, which was completely renovated in 2016, now allows us petrolheads to join in on the action. Their in-house service, "Drive the Glen," is a timed driving experience that allows you to drive your own car across the circuit's famed curves and straights. Many organizations and clubs organize track days, enabling enthusiasts to push the limits of their own vehicles.

Location: Watkins Glen, NY

Length: 3.45mi (GP course), 2.45mi (short course)

Turns: 11 (GP course), 8 (short course)

Highlight: Widely known as the Mecca of North American road racing, Watkins Glen shares the same name as the city, but the circuit's fame outweighed that of the city.

5- Virginia International Raceway

Virginia International Raceway, located between Danville and Alton, VA, had a rich history that was cut short by a quarter-century of abandonment. VIR opened in 1957 and closed from 1974 to 2000. Today, it is a "motorsport resort," with a paved race track, an unpaved off-road course, a go-kart track, a few eateries, and even an on-site shooting range!

 

Virginia International Raceway

VIR conducts a wide range of events, including SCCA races, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, and historic races. It is also a popular testing location for NASCAR and SCCA. VIR is known for its uphill esses, severe elevation changes, and gorgeous scenery, and Car and Driver ranks it as one of the top six road courses in the United States.

Want to get on the VIR? Whether you're a seasoned pro or a die-hard enthusiast, various motor clubs rent the Virginia International Raceway for track days.

Location: Alton, VA

Length: 3.3mi

Turns: 17

Highlight: The track was closed following an SCCA endurance race in 1974. After being abandoned farmland for almost 25 years, two investors left their careers to bring the VIR back to life in 2000.

4- Road America

Road America, located near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, has hosted racing events since the mid-1950s. Road America hosts approximately 400 events each year, including NASCAR, IMSA, and SCCA races, as well as vintage car events, guaranteeing that there is always something spectacular going on.

 

road america

Unlike many race tracks, Road America's architecture and layout have stayed largely untouched since its construction in 1955. It has significant elevation changes and a long front straight with speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. In addition to the main track, the Briggs & Stratton Motorplex, located within the complex, offers a karting track and an off-road circuit.

Road America provides public track days for individuals interested in testing their driving skills and cars. Due to its rich history, scenic surroundings, and high-speed action, it is a must-see destination for any petrolhead.

Location: Elkhart Lake, WI

Length: 4mi

Turns: 14

Highlight: The sign outside Turn 5, saying “America’s National Park of Speed,” perfectly summarizes the circuit’s history, and the venue lives up to this with its rich history and bustling calendar.

3- Circuit of the Americas

Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is the first race track, built specifically for Formula One, in the United States. It opened in 2010. The famous German track builder Herman Tilke made the main plan of the Grade 1 track. Tilke is known for making F1 circuits like the Yas Marina, IstanbulPark, and Bahrain International Circuit, as well as modernized versions of old favorites like Fuji Speedway and Hockenheimring. That's it, right? 

 

Circuit of the Americas

COTA, located in Austin, Texas, has hosted the United States Formula One Grand Prix since 2012, as well as numerous other series ranging from NASCAR races to MotoGP. Aside from motorsports, COTA is a multi-purpose stadium that hosts concerts and festivals that draw spectators all year long.

In addition to watching many of the world's most important racing events, you can drive your car on the same track that legends have raced on! COTA provides driving classes and track days where you may hone your abilities or simply enjoy driving on the edge in your own vehicle.

Location: Austin, TX

Length: 3.42mi

Turns: 20

Highlight: Definitely Turn 3-6 or the Esses. Inspired by the UK’s Silverstone, this section was built purely for the love of racing. Left, right, left, right…sounds simple, but the series starts at top gear on most cars and pushes both drivers and cars to their absolute limits.

2- Laguna Seca

The Laguna Seca Raceway, near the top of our list, is one of the most well-known tracks in North America. Laguna Seca is located on the Monterey Peninsula in the city of Salinas, California, and its roots date back to the late 1950s. Back then, road racing was held on public roads in Pebble Beach, and as safety concerns grew, a permanent circuit became necessary.

 

Laguna Seca Raceway

The track follows a natural geological path through the hills, which makes for a very interesting plan with big changes in elevation and some very tricky turns. "The Corkscrew" is without a doubt the most well-known corner. The Corkscrew, which is officially called "Turn 8" and "Turn 8A," has a huge drop.

Location: Salinas, CA

Length: 2.23mi

Turns: 11

Highlight: The Corkscrew, officially named Turn 8 and Turn 8A, is undeniably the star of the show at Laguna Seca. Once you reach the first apex of the blind chicane, the elevation drop is 12 percent, and as you exit the 8A, the course drops 59 feet in total, in only a 450-foot distance.

1- Sonoma Raceway

California's wine country hills host the historic road track, originally Sears Point Raceway, 30 miles from San Francisco. NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, GT World Challenge, and others are among the racing series that have run at it since its founding. It holds NHRA drag racing on a quarter-mile dragstrip. With high elevation changes, blind hills, and tight bends, Sonoma Raceway is one of the most difficult US race circuits.

In addition, the venue organizes unique events. Each Wednesday night, Sonoma Drags & Drift offers a thrilling car-driven experience 16 times a year. Also notable is the Velocity Invitational at Sonoma Raceway. It is a speed and racing history celebration. On open track days, Sonoma fans can drive their own automobiles on the famous race course.

 

Sonoma Raceway

Off-topic Sonoma Raceway fact: What about that Windows XP wallpaper? The lush hill and bluest skies. Sonoma, CA, has that “Bliss” shot just minutes from the track!

Location: Sonoma, CA

Length: 1.9 to 2.5mi depending on the course

Turns: 12

Highlight: A flock of around 4,000 sheep maintains the grounds in and around the track—a charming and environmentally friendly approach to landscaping!

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You can customize your vehicle's throttle response to match your driving style and needs using Pedal Commander's different driving settings. Order yours today, enjoy adrenaline-fueled adventures, and remember to select Sport+ for the fastest lap times!