Max Verstappen took his second Formula 1 World Championship in a chaotic Japanese Grand Prix, getting the crown with four races to go. Next stop: The United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas. COTA has been the scene of the US GP since 2012 but might not be everyone’s cup of tea – which is why we have assembled a list of five lesser-known US tracks that you should give a try.
Five circuits have played host to the United States Grand Prix in the history of Formula 1, and the Indianapolis 500 counted for the championship from 1950 to 1960. Only one of the tracks we are looking at has history with F1, however.
1 – Riverside
Riverside International Raceway is a forgotten gem of a racetrack. Opened in 1957 in California, the circuit was the site of the 1960 United States Grand Prix and has hosted anything from F1 and IndyCar to Sports Cars and NASCAR throughout its history. A fast and flowing track, Riverside was known for its long back straight flanked by banked dirt walls, leading to a banked final turn from 1969 onwards.
The reason why one of the all-time great road courses in the US is not known by many these days is that it ceased operation in 1989 due to new homes being built closer to the track, leading to protests from residents. Since then, the area has been transformed into a shopping mall and residential area.
Where to try: Like many interesting tracks from years past, Riverside is available as a mod for Assetto Corsa and also for rFactor 2.
2 – Barber Motorsports Park
If you have been following the IndyCar series, this track should be no stranger: Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Barber’s history only dates back to 2003 – but that does not mean that it is a typical modern track: Big elevation changes, no asphalt run-offs and a flowing layout make it one of the best road courses in the US today.
Where to try: iRacing officially features Barber, and an Assetto Corsa version has also been made by VRC as Alabama Racing Course, which is available for about €4. In addition, the Steam Workshop has a mod version of the track for rFactor 2.
3 – Mid-Ohio
IndyCar, IMSA, NASCAR development classes, GrandAm – there is not much in American motorsports that Mid-Ohio has not hosted. One of the classic road courses in the US, the circuit features technical corners, tricky elevation changes and the interesting phenomenon of taking initial race starts on the back straight instead of the pit straight, since the latter is too short for this purpose. Tough to get right, but very fun to drive.
Where to try: Like Barber, Mid-Ohio is available in iRacing and as a mod for Assetto Corsa. RaceRoom also features the track officially, as does the NASCAR game series. An older version for rFactor 2 can also be found.
4 – Virginia International Raceway
Another classic US track, VIR is known for its challenging layout with fast turns made trickier by serious elevation changes. The circuit features five layouts and is used by IMSA, GT World Challenge America, Trans-Am and other series which tackle the roller-coaster like nature of the track as its main attractions.
Where to try: VIR may not be that well-known outside of the US, but it is featured in multiple sims and games: iRacing features the course, as do Automobilista 2, rFactor 2 and Forza Motorsport 6 and 7. An Assetto Corsa mod is also available.
5 – Willow Springs
Mostly used as a test track, Willow Springs’ main layout called Big Willow not only flows nicely, making it a great choice for vintage cars, it is also the oldest permanent road course in the US, as it was opened in 1953. Set in the hills of Kern County, California, the track mostly features mid- to high-speed corners, rewarding courageous drivers with faster lap times.
Where to try: Where to try: The track appears in all three parts of the Project CARS series, including smaller layouts. Gran Turismo 6, 7 and Sport also feature the track, just like Need for Speed: Pro Street and Shift. The almost obligatory mods for Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2 can be found as well.
Which of the suggested tracks is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below the article!