The world’s more unusual racing circuits

27th July 2021, 6:44am
5 min read
The world’s more unusual racing circuits
Image credit: Jaguar Formula E

The FIA Formula E Championship raced at London’s Excel Centre, utilising a circuit that encompassed the indoor segments of the exhibition centre as well as using the outdoor access roads. It’s thought to be the first indoor/outdoor track ever used for top line motorsport, instantly adding it to the list of more unusual race circuits in the world. Here’s how it sits with other bizarre layouts from around the globe:

Norisring – Germany

A track that winds around a former Nazi marching ground has to be up there among the more unusual doesn’t it? A key feature of the layout is the Steintribune, a concrete podium where Hitler made many of his notorious Nuremberg speeches, and has now been transformed into a 25,000 seat grandstand. It’s played host to DTM and F3 Euroseries races in the recent past, though before it was a race track, tanks and troops were a far more common sight than race cars!

Birmingham Superprix - UK

It simply couldn’t happen today; massively powerful single-seaters racing around the streets of one of Britain's biggest cities. The Birmingham Superprix is a much-missed event that hasn’t been run since the early 1990s, and used several roads around the city’s Chinese Quarter. Key races included Formula 3000 (the equivalent of today’s F2 championship) and British Touring Cars. It even used a car salesroom for its pit lane, raced past multi-storey car parks, down dual carriageways and roundabouts. Rumours of a return have been numerous since the Superprix’s demise, but as yet, there’s no sign of the popular event returning.

Caesar’s Palace - USA

It seemed inevitable that F1 would be attracted to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, but the track they raced on was one of the most bland ever seen on the calendar. The entire circuit was located within the car park of the famous hotel and casino, was lined by concrete barriers and featured three almost identical segments that quickly lost favour with the drivers. F1 only visited twice, with each event attracting minimal spectators and resulted in big losses. Indy Car raced there for two years after F1’s departure in 1982, but even that proved unpopular, and the venue hasn’t hosted racing since.

Autodromo di Pergusa - Italy

Racing around a snake-infested lake with sulphur deposits nearby to occasionally fill the nostrils? Yep, that’s a worthy addition to our list of unusual circuits! In its original form it was a flat out near-oval, with any mistakes leading to a trip into the perilous body of water. Chicanes were added to reduce speeds in the 1970s, with the basic layout almost unchanged since then. A plague of frogs invaded an F3000 race meeting in 1996, and other safety concerns led the FIA to revoke the circuit’s licence in 2004. Insufficient funding meant racing didn’t return until 2011 when national-level competition resumed, and international events returned the following season.

Dmitrov - Russia

Racing around country roads in the middle of a forest? No barriers? No, it’s not something from the 1960s, but something far more contemporary. Russian Touring Cars used to compete regularly around this ‘race track’ on the outskirts of Moscow that offered peril at almost every turn. Any off track incident would usually result in contact with one of the thousands of trees that lined the course, while an insanely tight hairpin that cars struggled to turn around offered more trouble. The fact the run-off area here was not only surrounded by pines, but also included a ditch that more than one car could disappear into, added to the surrealness. A comedic video of this layout can be seen here.

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Written by Richard Randle

Richard Randle is a motorsport PR professional working with the UK’s top racing circuits and the UK’s premier single-seater category, the BRDC British F3 Championship.