10 Best Race Tracks in America
Barber Motorsports Park
Think racing in the United States, and you will most likely picture a Top Fuel dragster burning down the strip, or a restrictor plate caravan of NASCAR stock cars speeding around a high banked oval. There are quite a few interesting alternatives though, with several world-class road courses right here in the US. Next time you are looking for a weekend adventure, see if any of these ten best racetracks are near you. This road course in northern Georgia is great to look at and even better to drive. A recent repaving made the asphalt super smooth, and all the curves whizzing past forest scenery makes for an exciting high speed course. There are 12 corners in the 2.5 miles, including the famous downhill “esses” that this track is known for. Road Atlanta features everything from Formula D and ChumpCar (aren’t they kind of the same thing?), to SCCA and TUDOR USCC events.
Officially the boring Sonoma Raceway (but also called Sears Point or Infineon due to past sponsorships), what it lacks in name excitement, the track more than makes up for in technical challenges. The full course offers 160 feet of elevation change, and 12 turns. Two of the turns are negative camber, basically the opposite of a banked corner, where you can watch the lower grip cars get slightly airborne.
Known as one of the most technically challenging courses in the US, Virginia International Raceway is legendary in its complexity, and a value for race fans. The full course is 3.27 miles long, and offers something like a bazillion turns. There’s esses like Road Atlanta, but they’re uphill, a blind “Stevie Wonder” corner, and a smaller version of the Laguna Seca corkscrew. If you’re looking to learn quickly, you can’t go wrong at a driving school at VIR.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Sec is not the prettiest course in the world, as it was built out of a dry California lakebed. This track’s character more than makes up for the drought, and Laguna Seca is one of the most feared and admired tracks among race drivers. The straights are fast, but the blind corners and corkscrew turn deliver huge adrenaline surges. Even if you can only experience it on Gran Turismo, take the drive. It’s amazing.
Road America is consistently ranked as one of the best road courses in America, and it’s easy to see why. The complete track is over 4 miles long, features 14 corners, and a massive front straight where powerful machines can show off for the crowd. Road America is located in a beautiful stretch of country between Milwaukee and Green Bay, and hosts everything from NASCAR to Superbikes and karts.
Mid-Ohio is known for annoyingly early presidential campaigns, but Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is known for some of the best racing in the States. While it’s shorter, at just over 2 miles, the mix of corners and ability to run multiple track layouts keep it interesting. The combination of high-speed but challenging course, and great viewing for the fans, keeps Mid-Ohio on this list.
Voted one of the prettiest race tracks in the world, Lime Rock Park is also one of the few reasons for automotive enthusiasts to visit Connecticut. It’s one of the oldest courses in America and covered with beautiful trees and hills. LRP is one of the fastest road courses in the US, yet offers tricky elevation changes and corners. You can have some fun here, as Lime Rock is the home of Skip Barber Racing School.
The Mecca of North American road racing, Watkins Glen International is a fan and driver favorite. Located in the boonies of New York, the track offers tons of history and gorgeous viewpoint no matter where you are seated. The track has hosted everything from Trans-Am to Formula 1, and is currently a NASCAR track for when you want to see stock cars flailing around a challenging course with right hand turns.
Barber is one of the lesser known on this list, but is totally deserving. This multipurpose race facility opened in 2003, which means unlike the others on here, computers helped optimize the design for maximum speed and excitement. There’s 15 corners and a whole lot of straights, surrounded by excellent viewing points and gigantic and ridiculous animal sculptures. Then there’s the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which houses nearly 1,500 motorcycles dating back to 1904.
This one is a bit different, as Monticello Motor Club is a country club operating a racetrack. It’s exclusive, and rarely open to the public, but Monticello offers one of the best venues for racing anywhere. Located in the mountains 90 miles northwest of New York City, Monticello was designed to be a racers’ dream. An incredible 22 turns, 450 feet of elevation changes, and massive straights make this a country club worth joining. Bring a stack of cash if you want to sign up, as a lifetime membership will set up back six figures. Do you have a favorite among these ten best racetracks in America? Let us know if you have driven any of these amazing road courses. By Andy Jensen – Contributor Map Credit: Will Pittenger
Think racing in the United States, and you will most likely picture a Top Fuel dragster burning down the strip, or a restrictor plate caravan of NASCAR stock cars speeding around a high banked oval. There are quite a few interesting alternatives though, with several world-class road courses right here in the US. Next time you are looking for a weekend adventure, see if any of these ten best racetracks are near you.