Laguna, Nurburgring and Watkins Glenn: Three giants in the world of racing
The best road tracks in the world test more than just how fast a car can go. The whole performance package has to be put to the test, ensuring that the cars can brake and handle as effectively as they can reach 60 MPH on a straightaway.
Stateside, we have behemoths like the legendary Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca that practically make drivers and observers dizzy trying to keep up with the course's bevy of twists and turns. Of the 11 big turns, number nine closes out a corkscrew that has left many drivers discombobulated after only one lap around the track. The record lap here is one minute and five seconds, which Sebastian Bourdais, a driver who was actually born at Le Mans, hit in 2007 driving his Panoz DP01 during the Champ Car World Series.
Laguna Seca may be the big daddy stateside, but the track to end all others is a 17-mile stretch of pavement in Germany that features not 11 corners, like you'd find at the Mazda Speedway, but 170. The Nurburgring is the breeding ground for every performance car, as it still makes or breaks prototypes from automakers across the globe almost 90 years after it was first created by the German government. Ferrari broke the all-time record for the track when the 599XX lapped the ring in six minutes and 58 seconds back in 2010.
It seems a little unfair that the Germans get both the Nurburgring and the Autobahn, but America has still hosted the greatest names in racing history. Watkins Glen International in upstate New York has hosted races from nearly any circuit, whether the automobiles are stock models or supercars. The surrounding town is also home to the International Motor Racing Research Center, which is one of the finest full-service museums in the country dedicated to all kinds of racing.
Do you have a favorite track to visit that you think deserves a shout out? Leave your comments below: