Auto racing is one of the more interesting sports out there. It’s about horsepower, speed, victories, and defeats. Watching a race on TV is one thing, but seeing cars fly around a track at well over 200 miles per hour in person is exhilarating. Actually driving is an experience all its own. Tens of millions of people flock to racetracks around the world each and every year to watch or participate in races.
The drivers and their cars are the stars of the show, but the tracks themselves are impressive as well. Even if you’re not a big race fan or driver, going to these hallowed grounds of motorsports can be an experience you’ll never forget. If you worship at the altar of horsepower, lap times, and checkered flags, this motorsports pilgrimage is for you.
1. Autodromo di Pergusa, Italy
The Autodromo di Pergusa is a racetrack in Italy that’s as beautiful as the cars that drive on it. Located around Pergusa Lake, the only natural lake in Sicily, the circuit hosts a variety of racing events. Its heyday was in the 1960s and 1970s, but it’s starting to creep back to prominence. If you’re looking for a beautiful European racetrack to visit, this one has to be on your list.
2. Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama, USA
The only reason Barber Motorsports Park exists is because George Barber had a vision for a world-class venue, and didn’t stop dreaming until it was built. Barber was a successful racer, and later in life became a serious businessman. He donated $54 million to the foundation he established to build the museum and road course of his dreams. The result was a 16-turn racing circuit that winds through 740 acres.
3. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Not interested in going to Alabama? How about Belgium? The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps has a rich history with the racing community. It came to prominence not long after the First World War. The rolling hills of the area made for the perfect racetrack landscape, and the first organized race took place in the 1920s. Since then it’s become a legendary European racetrack. If you’re going to go anywhere near Belgium, it’s worth it to take a trip to Spa-Francorchamps for its beauty alone.
4. Circuit de la Sarthe (Le Mans), France
The Circuit de la Sarthe is better known by two words, Le Mans. This French racetrack hosts the most famous 24-hour endurance race in the whole world. The 24 Hours of Le Mans has captivated audiences for decades. Over the years, alterations have been made to the route, but the essence of the track maintains the glamor of its 1920s debut. If you’re a fan of motorsports or history in general, don’t overlook this racing circuit.
5. Daytona International Speedway, Florida, USA
The Daytona International Speedway was built by Bill Rance Sr. to be a 2.5-mile racetrack for the most astonishing racing the motorsports world had ever seen. With 32 degrees of banking in the turns and plenty of spaces along the track to open cars up, it’s safe to say that he succeeded. The Daytona International Speedway hosts NASCAR racing, Grand-Am racing, American Motorcycle Association events, go-kart racing, Monster Energy Super Cross events, and more. This track does it all.
6. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana, USA
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of those venues so ingrained in motorsports that without it, the racing world simply wouldn’t be what it is today. The Indianapolis 500 is the venue’s most well-known race, but the site is home to several others. It’s a huge venue with three circuits, including a large oval, a road course, and a motorcycle road course. It can accommodate hundreds of thousands of spectators at once, too. If you haven’t been to a race here, load up the car and take a trip to America’s heartland. It’s a spectacle you won’t forget.
7. Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy
Monza’s history starts right after WWI, when auto racing picked up in popularity. The Autodromo Nazionale Monza was there to welcome racers and spectators to go as fast as they wanted. The track has gone through many renovations over the years, giving Monza plenty of character. The venue oozes history, and has a colorful tale to tell of champions and failures dating back almost a century.
8. Ebisu Circuit, Japan
If you love drifting, you should be at Ebisu. This track offers plenty of opportunities to take in some of the best drifters in the business. The venue has 7 individual tracks plus a couple of skid pad areas making it ideal for racers and drifters of all kinds. The track is designed to keep costs down, making drifting and racing accessible to everyone. If you’re looking to see some unique cars hooning around a racetrack, this is the place to be.
9. Nürburgring, Germany
The Nürburgring is another one of those racetracks that has had an immeasurable impact on the automotive and motorsport industry. In fact, it’s hard to imagine what the automotive world would be like without this racetrack. The Nürburgring is the proving ground for new cars, and it hosts a variety of races and events. It’s an old racetrack dating back to just after WWI, but it’s been modernized over the years, and today, virtually every automaker tests new models there before putting them on the market. If you’re interested at all in visiting racetracks, this has to be at the top of your list.
10. Suzuka Circuit, Japan
Honda owns the Suzuka Circuit, and it has emerged as one of the best and most challenging places to race a car in the world. You can find just about every kind of corner at Suzuka, which is why drivers love it. These corners are rife with danger, giving spectators a dramatic, nail-biting show. Built in the 1960s, Suzuka isn’t quite as old as many of the others on this list, but it’s earned its spot over the years.
11. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, USA
Nestled in the hills of Salinas County, California, is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Organizers in nearby Pebble Beach wanted a safe and controlled environment to host races, which led to a group of folks wrangling enough money to build a racetrack in 1957. The track’s complex corners and legendary turns have made for some of the most impressive racing the world has ever seen. If you find yourself in California, consider stopping by this iconic road course.
12. Silverstone, United Kingdom
Silverstone is the self-described home of British racing. While there are other circuits in the UK, the track’s claims aren’t unfounded. It’s been one of the fastest and most exciting racing venues in the world since the 1940s. Formerly an airfield, the site became a place of interest for drivers and eventually a circuit was built. Since its creation, the venue has flourished and grown into a world-class facility.
13. Autódromo de Interlagos, Brazil
Interlagos (“between lakes” in Portuguese) is aptly named. The site sits directly between two large lakes, and the circuit there is an attractive and beautiful place to visit or race. If a trip to Brazil is on your calendar, you should try your best to make it to Interlagos. The racetrack opened in 1940 and has since hosted some of the best Formula 1 races ever. In the mid-1980s, the people in charge of Interlagos renamed it the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in memory of the 1976 Grand Prix winner who died in a plane crash. Since then, the circuit was renovated several times, but still retains its charm and history.
14. Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, USA
If you’ve ever been to the Berkshire Mountains in Connecticut, then you can probably imagine how beautiful Lime Rock Park is. The racetrack has no grandstands, no eyesores that disrupt the landscape. It’s just a fast road course with grassy banks overlooking the venue that spectators can picnic on. Its beauty and seemingly laid-back feel have given it a family-friendly reputation. Do you have some kids who’d love to see a race or two? Take them to Lime Rock Park.
15. Willow Springs International Raceway, California, USA
Willow Springs International Raceway is one of those places you must travel to if you’re a fan of motorsports at all. It has a rich history, but the facilities around the course have been updated over the years with management renovating and updating parts of the track as necessary. Still, the layout is basically the same as it was when the site opened in the 1950s. It’s brutally fast, beautiful, and an overall wonderful place to visit if you make it out to the West Coast.
16. Circuit of the Americas, Texas, USA
The Circuit of the Americas is a newer racetrack, but that doesn’t keep it from being one of the most interesting and engaging courses on this list. It had a rocky construction, but despite the issues, it opened in 2012 to great fanfare from drivers and spectators alike. There are three circuits at the racetrack, each challenging in their own way. This has attracted a variety of racing series, which means you can go see a variety of car and motorcycle races.
17. Sonoma Raceway, California, USA
Sonoma Raceway has been known by a few different names, including Sears Point Raceway and Infineon Raceway. The track’s importance has also changed dramatically. It’s become one of the best racetracks in the world, and because of this, it’s also one of the busiest. It hosts a variety of events on about eight different circuits. Located in beautiful Sonoma, California, the site is worth going to, at the very least for the striking scenery.
18. Virginia International Raceway, Virginia, USA
The Virginia international Raceway got its start as a place exclusively for racing sports cars, but as time progressed, the site became much more than just that. The track started in the 1950s and flourished for years, but the oil crisis of the 1970s killed much of its business. After a few decades, owners and investors decided to revitalize it as a multi-purpose facility, with racing as the focal point. Now it’s a kind of country club venue that hosts a variety of events, including some of the best racing series around.
19. Anglesey Circuit, United Kingdom
One of the most modern racetracks in the United Kingdom, Anglesey Circuit is also one of the most beautiful. It’s located on the island of Anglesey off the coast of north Wales. The site was originally a military facility, but after it was decommissioned, it turned into a motorsports venue. It held its first event in 1992, and the facility has flourished ever since.
20. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Canada
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a unique place. The racetrack is complex, interesting, and hosts many of the best races in the world, but the location of the venue itself is what makes it so cool. It’s on a man-made island in the St Lawrence Seaway near Montreal. The site’s laid back spirit and modern updates have made it a favorite of spectators and drivers alike. If you’re headed up to Canada anytime soon, make sure to check out this wonder of human ingenuity.
21. Road America, Wisconsin, USA
Up in Wisconsin sits one of the oldest permanent road circuits in the United States. Road America is a beautiful track that has basically gone unchanged since it’s been opened. Over the years, the owners improved accessibility and seating, but the layout of the track remains true to the 1950s. It’s one of the longer racetracks in the US, and it’s also very fast, making it a great place for drivers and spectators alike.
22. Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico
When you think Mexico City, you might not think of auto racing. But if you’d been to Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez you would think of nothing else. The site is the best racing spot in the whole country, and has been for about half a century. It consists of four different circuits all designed for specific purposes. The venue has hosted everything from NASCAR and Indycar to Formula 1. It’s part of a giant sports complex on the southeast side of the city. If you ever visit Mexico’s Capital, you must stop by this legendary racetrack.
23. Watkins Glen, New York
This is where it all began for American auto racing. Watkins Glen has been America’s home for racing since the 1940s, before there was even a real racetrack. Racers used highways and country roads, but eventually the people involved in the community built a track, and the rest is history. It’s had its financial ups and downs over the years, but the venue keeps upgrading and improving. The International Speedway Corporation bought the property in 1997 and made a number of upgrades since then. If you’re a fan of history, auto racing, or both, this place has all you could ever hope for.
24. Bathurst’s Mount Panorama, Australia
This gathering place for all of Australia’s petrolheads is fast, fun and dangerous. It’s also beautifully placed in the winding hillside. Widely known as one of the most challenging racetracks in the world, this Aussie circuit is a favorite of many drivers. It got its start in 1938, and has since hosted a wide variety of races. There have been many spectacular victories at Mount Panorama and several harrowing crashes. That’s a fact that keeps many people coming back time and time again.
25. Bristol Motor Speedway, Tennessee, USA
This half-mile oval racetrack is all about going fast. It’s also one of the most popular NASCAR tracks out there, and was designed for that specific purpose. The 22 degree banked turns allow cars to rocket around this thing at obscene speeds. It’s a sight to behold whether or not you’re a NASCAR fan. If you ever make the trip to Tennessee check it out, you might just come back a rabid fan.