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Choice Circuits: My Top Three

December 6, 2011 by Matt

I don’t know whether to call these favorites, or tracks I have some kind of personal connection with, or even tracks I would simply love to drive “in anger.” All I know is that if the bomb went off and I had to choose just three auto racing venues to save, these circuits would be the ones.

Monaco Monte Carlo F1 Formula One GP Grand Prix Track Race Circuit Map Layout Course

Monaco. Site of one of the pillars of the Triple Crown of Motorsport. Incidentally, as much of an F1 fan as I am, it’s the only F1 event I’ve actually attended. Twice, in fact—in ’87, at the peak of the turbo era, and again in ’94, exactly one race after the weekend which claimed the life of the legendary Ayrton Senna. It should be noted that in both instances, I didn’t attend the actual race, but one of the qualifying sessions. Still, for sheer spectacle, glamor and excitement, it’s hard to beat the race three-time world champion Nelson Piquet likened to “racing a bicycle around your living room.” Cementing my attachment to the circuit is the fact that I’ve actually driven it multiple times, or as much of it as you can drive in the off-season; several interchanges between parts of the track are set up specifically for the F1 race. It’s impossible not to visualize yourself as Alain Prost, Senna or Michael Schumacher when hurtling through the tunnel or rounding the swimming pool on the harbor’s edge, even while observing the relatively sedate speed limits. Take a lap.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Track Race Circuit Map Layout Course

Laguna Seca. I don’t have a personal connection to this one in real life, but of all the tracks I’ve raced “virtually” (read: in video games), it stands out as the one I’d overwhelmingly want to experience in real life, if for no other reason than to take a trip through the vaunted Corkscrew about 2/3 of the way through the course. It took me ages to get that bit just right in my Viper GTS-R in Gran Turismo 2. Take a lap.

VIR Virginia International Raceway Danville Track Race Circuit Map Layout Course

Virginia International Raceway, or VIR. The “hometown” track, just 90 minutes away in Danville, Virginia. Reopened in ’00 after years of neglect, the venue has since vaulted into in the top tier of American circuits. It’s not hard to see why: Offering a number of distinctive segments and corners, elevation changes and able to be reconfigured into half a dozen layouts, VIR is a model of versatility and character. It’s anything but a sterile, technical track, and as such has hosted everything from a Top Gear episode to magazine comparos. Take a lap.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing legendary and notable racing venues from around the globe. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Choice Circuits, Racing

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