The World’s Most Famous Race Tracks You Can Drive Your Own Car On

Smart cars need not apply.

The World’s Most Famous Race Tracks You Can Drive Your Own Car On

Image: Matt McFadden

Face it, old man. It’s too late for you to become a professional race driver now. For starters, you probably have the reflexes of a sloth on Xanax. And your steering ability? Likely on par with a shopping trolley that even the creek rejected. We feel your pain.

Pain doesn’t need to mean no fun though. In a world where race tracks blend seamlessly with civilian roads and vice versa, revheads are given the rare chance to experience the roads that racing legends have carved their name out of.

Welcome to the world’s best race tracks which also double as public roads.

Mount Panorama, Australia


Let’s start off with a local favourite. Countless legendary touring car battles have taken place at Bathurst’s iconic Mount Panorama Circuit. Widely considered one of the world’s most challenging race tracks thanks to its insane elevation changes, high speeds and tricky corners, it’s also – funnily enough – actually used as a public road when no races are on. A few lucky sods even live in the middle of the circuit (yeah, some people actually have their street address as “Conrod Straight”. How good).

However, unless you’re there on a track day or for an event, there’s a speed limit of 60km/h, and police regularly patrol the mountain. Still, considering how challenging the circuit is, that’s plenty fast for most people.

Nürburgring Nordschleife, Germany


Famously nicknamed “The Green Hell” by former Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, the Nürburgring is one of the most famous racetracks in the world, as well as one of the longest. Its famous Nordschleife (North Loop) is a whopping 22.835 km long. It’s also a public road, meaning you can take your own car around it.

However, just because anyone can go around it doesn’t mean it’s an easy drive. The Nürburgring throws up some of the most challenging tarmac in the world with undulating corners, varying road surfaces and high-speed sections that will cater perfectly to those with balls of steel. It’s also often quite busy, meaning you’ll have to contend with plenty of angry Germans driving fast cars (with varying degrees of skill).

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, USA


“The Race to the Clouds” has been the proving ground for some of the world’s most insane drivers with equally willing cars. The 20km course begins at sea level and elevates to 1,440m over its course, making it harder for cars to breathe with thinner air, making it a proper challenge. Since it’s a public road owned by the US Forest Service, anyone can drive on it as long as it’s not race day.

Pikes Peak used to be even more challenging, though. The course used to consist of both gravel and paved sections, but as of August 2011, the highway is fully paved – which makes it a little safer for the average punter.

Isle Of Man, UK


The world’s most talented and daring riders take to the Isle of Man every year for a spectacle that can only be seen to be believed. Superbikes ridden by veteran racers tackle this island circuit which snakes through the small Crown Dependency’s main roads before breaking out into open scenery with speeds easily hitting 300km/h – on two wheels.

Like the other circuits, Isla of Man is open to public driving when there are race events on. Tackle it on a bike if you’re ballsy, or a car if you’re more sensible. Perhaps an Audi TT?

Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore


One of the most dazzling races on the Formula 1 calendar is arguably the bright lights of the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore. On race weekend the roads are lit up like it’s NYE as cars roar past amongst the glitz and glamour. Once the race dies down, the surrounding roads and circuit return to the city as a public thoroughfare.

While the Marina Bay Street Circuit is largely accessible when there are no races on, Singapore isn’t the most forgiving city to drive in. Congestion and the eye-watering cost of motoring in the small country don’t make for easy cruising – but it’s still possible.

Circuit de Monaco


Glamour, prestige and history. This pretty much sums up the legendary Monaco street circuit which has as much heritage as it does money pumping through it. When race day is on hiatus, the streets of the wealthy principality return to its residents who can trace the track and go through the tunnel filled with war paint of decades of racing.

Thanks to its cashed-up nature, Monaco is also home to plenty of supercars. It’s a great place to spot cars as well as drive them.

Circuit de la Sarthe, France


The famous 24 Hours of Le Mans wouldn’t be what it is today without the generosity of local roads which help make up this legendary 13km track, which ranks as one of the world’s great circuits.

Parts of the road are open to the public on non-race days, providing ample opportunity to do your own laps for 24 hours to see if you’ve got what it takes. FYI, you probably don’t – but don’t let that stop you.