It's true that an oval-shaped auto racing track can be a fun place to watch a race at high speeds and in close quarters. But there's no denying that repeat-left turns can get rather predictable. While tracks like the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway can be lengthy, ones such as the 1.05-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway can seem small and cramped. There's no doubt that oval tracks can provide a heart-pounding adrenaline rush, with drivers inching past each other at blinding speeds, but there really in no substitute for a well-constructed road course.
Road courses can be very long, and add countless dimensions to a race. These tracks are usually very challenging and force drivers to anticipate different reactions for every move they make. Every turn becomes crucial when battling for position on one of these tracks.
The longer the track, the more difficult it can be for drivers to remember what's coming up next. Unless a driver has been driving at the track for several years, it may be tough to complete a race with a full memory of every single twist and turn. certain obstacles only occur once every five miles on some of the world's longer courses.
This look at the ten longest racetracks in the world includes some interesting places that cost a good deal to build but are able to host entertaining races. They are the site of some of the world's most prestigious events and often have very large prizes attached, waiting for the victor at the finish line.
10 Watkins Glen International - 3.4 miles
The Watkins Glen International Raceway in New York is 3.4 miles in length and has only eleven turns, but makes for one of the most challenging NASCAR road courses in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. The track used to include a few public roads that were used by locals around Watkins Glen, but it has been essentially closed off from the public due to several bystander deaths. This track is home to the Cheez-It 355 in the Sprint Cup, which has a purse worth $5 million.
9 Suzuka Curcuit - 3.6 miles
The Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka City, Japan is owned by Mobilityland, a corporation that is operated by Honda. It was designed as a Honda test track in 1962 and features a figure-8 design. The course can take at least two minutes for a high-performance racing bike to go around its 3.6-mile length. Many top drivers enter the 8 Hours of Suzuka motorcycle endurance race to go after the top prize of $100,000. The track's all time lap record was set in 2005 by F1 driver Kimi Raikonnen in his McLaren MP4-20.
8 Silverstone Circuit - 3.66 miles
The Silverstone Circuit is the crown jewel of motor racing in the UK. Located not too far off from Buckingham and Northampton, it has cost around £60 million (just shy of $100 million) to build and maintain over the years, with much of this cost going towards the creation of a new pits and paddock building for racing events. The track hosts the British Grand Prix each year and will continue to host it until 2027. It was built in 1948 over an old airfield, giving it a unique history to go along with its legendary status in the racing world.
7 Sebring International Raceway - 3.75 miles
The Sebring International Raceway was founded in 1950 in Sebring, Florida and is home to the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race. The track has 17 turns and is 3.75 miles in length, although it was 5.4 miles long in its original format when the track first opened. The 12 Hours of Sebring race is considered to be in the top tier of endurance racing, but the total purse for the race is only $284,000 in value. This includes prizes of at least $22,000 in each individual class.
6 Road America - 4.05 miles
Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is the most prominent road course in all of North America. It is 4.05 miles long and has fourteen turns. The course is punctuated by the half-circle Carousel turn in the middle and the Billy Mitchell Bend near the end. It's tough to get a quick lap here, as the only person who's gone under 1:40 was Dario Franchitti in a Champ Car vehicle in 2000. The track is home to the NASCAR Nationwide Series' Johnsonville Sausage 200, a race with a purse of $1 million.
5 Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps - 4.35 miles
Imagine driving in front of 70,000 fans while moving up and down in elevation and completing the wavy Raidillon Eau Ridge in the middle section and a challenging Chicane at the end. The Spa-Francorchamps course in Spa, Belgium offers drivers exactly this experience. This track is 4.35 miles long but was cut down from a format from 1920 that was twice as long. It's home to the Belgian Grand Prix, among other notable races. You could enter your vehicle to race here but it costs a cool €1,300 ($1,780) just to get in on a test day. It also costs €100 ($137) to make a single run on the track.
4 Charade Circuit - 5.005 miles
The Charade Circuit near Clermont-Ferrand, France was used for the French Grand Prix in the late-1960s but today only 2.4 miles of the 5.005-mile track is used for Formula Three races. In the 80s was deemed too treacherous after the deaths of three marshalls at a touring race and it hosted its last event at its full length in 1988. The track is especially noteworthy for having been used by filmmaker John Frankenheimer for taping racing scenes in his film Grand Prix. People can drive around the track in any weather condition at a reasonable cost of €10 ($13.71) per lap.
3 Autodromo Nazionale Monza (combined) - 6.2 miles
The Monza track in the city of Monza just outside Milan has a 3.6-mile design for the Italian Grand Prix that has been consistently used for years. The track has had 9 different configurations dating from its original design in 1922 to its most recent modification in 1999. However, the original 1922 track is still open for tourists to enjoy and is 6.2 miles long. You could get a day-long driving experience on this track for €1,000 ($1,370) and participate on a historic racecourse that's been an integral part of Formula 1 history.
2 Circuit de la Sarthe - 8.5 miles
Could you complete a twenty-four hour race? The 38-turn Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France would be interested in having you over if you think so. This track is home to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and is 8.5 miles long. You'd spend much of this length at full throttle with the Mulsanne Straight taking up nearly half the track, but the Ford Chicanes near the finish line can be a challenge coming from such high speeds. This track was once run in 3:19 by Loic Duval in 2010 in a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP sports prototype car. You could win $1.3 million in this race if you come in first, have the fastest lap, go more than 3,100 miles and use a low amount of fuel and tires. Otherwise, you could still drive away with $28,700.
1 Nurburgring - 16.1 miles
Nurburgring is located in the German town of Nurburg, about forty miles south of Cologne. This track has a number of different configurations but it's the 16.1-mile combined circuit that is particularly noteworthy. The track has 170 turns and features a mix of asphalt and concrete surfaces. It is used for the 24 Hours Nurburging and the fastest lap ever in this race was 8:18 by Uwe Alzen in 2012. It'll set you back $35 or €23 to drive a lap on this course which cost the equivalent of $40 million in today's money to build. The track was constructed in the 1920s and underwent a major expansion in the 1980s.