Race track

Last updated
An aerial view of the Killarney motorsport race track in Cape Town, South Africa Killarney Race Track in Tableview Cape Town.jpg
An aerial view of the Killarney motorsport race track in Cape Town, South Africa
FIA first turn specification 1-belokan-fia.png
FIA first turn specification
Touring Car race at Brands Hatch circuit BTCC Brands06 PaddockHill.jpg
Touring Car race at Brands Hatch circuit

A race track (racetrack, racing track or racing circuit) is a facility built for racing of vehicles, athletes, or animals (e.g. horse racing or greyhound racing). A race track also may feature grandstands or concourses. Race tracks are also used in the study of animal locomotion. Some motorsport tracks are called speedways.


A racetrack is a permanent facility or building. Racecourse is an alternate term for a horse racing track, found in countries such as the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. Race tracks built for bicycles are known as velodromes . Circuit is a common alternate term for race track, given the circuit configuration of most race tracks, allowing races to occur over several laps.

A race course, as opposed to a racecourse, is a nonpermanent track for sports, particularly road running, water sports, road racing, or rallying. Many sports usually held on race tracks also can occur on temporary tracks, such as the Monaco Grand Prix in Formula One.

A typical racecourse Racecourse In Chester3.jpg
A typical racecourse


Some evidence remains of racetracks being developed in several ancient civilizations. The most developed ancient race tracks were the hippodromes of the Ancient Greeks and the circuses (circi) of the Roman Empire. Both of these structures were designed for horse and chariot racing. The stadium of the Circus Maximus in Ancient Rome could hold 200,000 spectators.

Racing facilities existed during the Middle Ages, and records exist of a public racecourse being opened at Newmarket in London in 1174. In 1780, the Earl of Derby created a horse-racing course on his estate at Epsom; the English Derby continues to be held there today. Racecourses in the British Isles are based on grass, known as turf tracks. In the United States, the race tracks are soil.

Motorcycles racing on a highly banked board track in 1911 1911boardtrackracing.jpg
Motorcycles racing on a highly banked board track in 1911

With the advent of the automobile in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, race tracks were designed to suit the nature of powered machines. The earliest tracks were modified horse-racing courses. Racing automobiles in such facilities began in September 1896, at Narragansett Park in Cranston, Rhode Island. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was opened in August 1909.

Beginning in the early 1900s, motorcycle races were run on high, banked, wooden race tracks called board tracks. During the 1920s, many of the races on the AAA Championship circuit were run on such board tracks. Modern racetracks are designed with spectator safety being paramount, following incidents of spectator and track marshals fatalities. These often involve run-off areas, barriers, and high fencing.


Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace Racetrack showing safety fencing Vbjkhsdfwkueyew0076.JPG
Autódromo José Carlos Pace Racetrack showing safety fencing
Motorcycle ice racing Ice Racing.jpg
Motorcycle ice racing
View of a race track from a race car at Wakefield Park, Australia In Car Micheal Fitzgerald Cork Racing.jpg
View of a race track from a race car at Wakefield Park, Australia

Racetracks are used for:

Animal sports

Human sports

Motor sports


Horseracing track, Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong, showing grandstands Hongkongjockeyclub.jpg
Horseracing track, Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong, showing grandstands

Some racetracks offer little in the way of permanent infrastructure other than the track; others incorporate spectator facilities such as grandstands, hospitality or facilities for competitors, such as pit lanes and garages, paddocks and stables. Several racetracks are incorporated into larger venues or complexes, incorporating golf courses, museums, hotels, and conference centres. Some racetracks are small enough to be contained indoors, for sports such as motocross, cycling, and athletics.

Many racetracks are multi-use, allowing different types of sport on the same track, or incorporating many tracks in one venue. Commonly running tracks are incorporated within general use or soccer stadiums, either permanently visible or covered by stands or pitches.

Many horse and motorsport tracks are configurable, allowing different routes or sections. Some venues contain smaller tracks inside larger ones, with access tunnels and bridges for spectators. Some racetracks incorporate a short course and a longer course which uses part of the shorter one, usually the main straight, such as Brands Hatch. The Le Mans road race venue is centred on a smaller permanent circuit within its complex.

The ACI Vallelunga car racing track near Rome, Italy, a typical meandering layout with run-off areas Vallelunga.race.circuit.in.italy.arp.jpg
The ACI Vallelunga car racing track near Rome, Italy, a typical meandering layout with run-off areas


Stadion Haunstetten, a sand track Stadion Haunstetten.jpg
Stadion Haunstetten, a sand track

Surfaces include:


Race tracks are primarily designed for road racing competition through speed, featuring defined start-finish lines or posts, and sometimes even a series of defined timing points that divide the track into time sectors. Some sports merely measure endurance, or how long a competitor can race. Race tracks can host individual or team sports. Racetracks can feature rolling starts, or fixed starts, with associated equipment (starting blocks, cages, wheel traps etc.) They invariably feature a pit lane, and usually timing equipment.

Track layout

Some race tracks are of an oval shape, and can be banked, which allows almost universal spectator views or high speed racing (cycling, stock cars). A famous one is Nardò where high-speed manufacturer testing often takes place, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Some oval tracks are variations on an oval shape, for practical reasons or to introduce varying difficulties such as Talladega (a tri-oval). Most race tracks have meandering circuits with many curves, chicanes and changes in height, to allow for a challenge in skill to the competitors, notably motocross and touring car racing – these tend to predominate throughout most of the world, but especially in Europe.

Photograph from space of Nardo Ring in Italy, it is 12.6 kilometres (7.8 mi) long and is perfectly round - the image was taken from the ISS at an angle making it appear elliptical. Nardo ring.jpg
Photograph from space of Nardò Ring in Italy, it is 12.6 kilometres (7.8 mi) long and is perfectly round – the image was taken from the ISS at an angle making it appear elliptical.

Road circuits

Flatter meandering motorsport courses are sometimes called 'road circuits', originating in the fact that the earliest road racing circuits were simply closed-off public roads. True road circuits are still in use, e.g. the Australian GP has been run in Adelaide and continues to be in Melbourne on regular city streets. The most famous of these are the Monaco GP, and the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Some racetracks are specifically configured in a long straight, namely drag racing. Some races will be held only over the straight portion of a track (some horse racing and sprint athletics).

Converted airfields

After World War II, many wartime airfields, particularly in Great Britain, were left without further use. This coincided with a post-war boom in motorsport, and many airfields were converted to race tracks, where the circuit layout usually combined parts of the runways and the surrounding perimeter taxiways. The famous British track at Silverstone is a former Class A airfield, as are Castle Combe and Goodwood. The long runways were perfect for drag strips such as at Santa Pod Raceway. This type of track also appears on the popular motoring show Top Gear , which is filmed at Dunsfold Aerodrome, in Surrey, England.

Books about race tracks

In 2015, Maurice Hamilton published Grand Prix Circuits: Maps and Statistics From Every Formula One Track, which covers over 70 Grand Prix racing circuits. It provides maps, pictures, and a brief history of each track. [5] Each course map is accompanied by statistics including circuit lengths, lap records, and the names of corners and straights.

See also

Related Research Articles

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Motorsport track in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an automobile racing circuit located in Speedway, Indiana in the United States. It is the home of the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, and formerly the home of the United States Grand Prix. It is the largest sports venue in the world. It is located on the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road, approximately six miles (10 km) west of Downtown Indianapolis.

Fuji Speedway Motorsport track in Japan

Fuji Speedway is a motorsport race track standing in the foothills of Mount Fuji, in Oyama, Suntō District, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It was built in the early 1960s. In the 1980s, Fuji Speedway was used for the FIA World Sportscar Championship and national racing. Originally managed by Mitsubishi Estate Co., Fuji Speedway was acquired by Toyota Motor Corporation in 2000. The circuit hosted the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in 2007 after an absence of nearly 30 years, replacing the Suzuka Circuit owned by Honda. After Fuji Speedway hosted the 2008 race, the Japanese Grand Prix returned to Suzuka for races from 2009 onward. The Super GT Fuji 500 km race is held at the racetrack on Golden Week.

Motorsport Sport primarily involving the use of motorized vehicles

Motorsport, motorsports or motor sport is a global term used to encompass the group of competitive sporting events which primarily involve the use of motorised vehicles, whether for racing or non-racing competition. The terminology can also be used to describe forms of competition of two-wheeled motorised vehicles under the banner of motorcycle racing, and includes off-road racing such as motocross.

Road racing Form of motorsport racing on tracks that contain both right and left turns

Road racing is a form of motorsport racing held on a paved road surfaces. The races can be held either on a closed circuit or on a street circuit utilizing temporarily closed public roads. Originally, road races were held almost entirely on public roads however, public safety concerns eventually led to most races being held on purpose built racing circuits.

Oval track racing Form of auto racing where competitors duel on an oval shaped track

Oval track racing is a form of closed-circuit motorsport that is contested on an oval-shaped race track. An oval track differs from a road course in that the layout resembles an oval with turns in only one direction, and the direction of traffic is almost universally counter-clockwise. Oval tracks are dedicated motorsport circuits, used predominantly in the United States. They often have banked turns and some, despite the name, are not precisely oval, and the shape of the track can vary.

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Motorsport track in Canada

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is a multi-track motorsport venue located north of Bowmanville, in Ontario, Canada, 64 km (40 mi) east of Toronto. The facility features a 3.957-kilometre (2.459 mi), 10-turn road course; a 2.9-kilometre (1.8 mi) advance driver and race driver training facility with a 0.40-kilometre skid pad and a 1.5-kilometre (0.93 mi) kart track. The name "Mosport", a portmanteau of Motor Sport, came from the enterprise formed to build the track.

Ontario Motor Speedway was a motorsport venue located in Ontario, California. It was the first and only automobile racing facility built to accommodate major races sanctioned by all of the four dominant racing sanctioning bodies: USAC for open-wheel oval car races; NASCAR for a 500-mile (800 km) oval stock car races; NHRA for drag races; and FIA for Formula One road course races. Additionally, several motorcycle races were held at the track. Constructed in less than two years, the track opened in August 1970 and was considered state of the art at the time.

Homestead–Miami Speedway Motorsport track in the United States

Homestead–Miami Speedway is a motor racing track located in Homestead, Florida. The track, which has several configurations, has promoted several series of racing, including NASCAR, the IndyCar Series, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, and the Championship Cup Series.

The World Karting Association, or WKA, is the largest sanctioning body for kart racing in North America. The WKA was founded in 1971 and is located directly behind Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The WKA is believed to currently have approximately 5,000 members. Over 50,000 people have been WKA members since the organization's inception in 1971.

Twin Ring Motegi Racing circuit in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

Twin Ring Motegi is a motorsport race track located at Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Its name comes from the facility having two race tracks: a 2.493-kilometer (1.549 mi) oval and a 4.8-kilometer (2.98 mi) road course. It was built in 1997 by Honda, as part of the company's effort to bring the IndyCar Series to Japan, helping to increase their knowledge of American open-wheel racing.

Sandown Raceway Motorsport track in Australia

Sandown International Raceway is a motor racing circuit in the suburb of Springvale in Melbourne, Victoria, approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) south east of the city centre. Sandown is considered a power circuit with its "drag strip" front and back straights being 899 and 910 metres long respectively.

Motorcycle racing Racing sport using motorcycles

Motorcycle racing is the motorcycle sport of racing motorcycles. Major varieties include motorcycle road racing and off-road racing, both either on circuits or open courses, and track racing. Other categories include hill climbs, drag racing and land speed record trials.

Calder Park Raceway Motorsport track in Australia

Calder Park Raceway is a motor racing circuit in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The complex includes a dragstrip, a road circuit with several possible configurations, and the "Thunderdome", a high-speed banked oval equipped to race either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Newton Abbot Racecourse is a thoroughbred horse racing venue located on the north bank of the River Teign in the parishes of Kingsteignton and Teigngrace just north of Newton Abbot, Devon, England. The course is a tight, flat left-handed oval of about 1 mile 1 furlong. There are seven relatively easy fences to a circuit and a very short run in to the finish.

ASCAR Racing Series Stock car racing series

The ASCAR Racing Series, was a stock car racing series that raced at circuits around the United Kingdom and Europe from 2001 until 2008. The series went through many guises during its seven year period and was known as the Mintex ASCAR Series from 2001 to 2004, later known as the Days of Thunder Racing Series (2004) and the Stock Car Speed Association before its final season as the MAC Tools VSR V8 Trophy. Although going through these varying identities the series was commonly referred to and known by its original name of ASCAR. The series predominantly raced the oval tracks at the Rockingham Motor Speedway and the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in the early years but in its final season in 2008 was solely road racing series that would visit various tracks in the UK most notably Brands Hatch and in France at Croix en Ternois. The series folded in 2008 and merged into part of the European Late Model Series in 2009, racing in Belgium and the UK. Constructor cars consisted of NASCAR style Chevrolet, Ford and Pontiac racers with a field that peaked at 37 cars during the 2002 season.

There has been auto racing in Illinois for almost as long as there have been automobiles. Almost every type of motorsport found in the United States can be found in Illinois. Both modern and historic tracks exist in Illinois, including NASCAR's Chicagoland Speedway and Gateway International Speedway. Notable drivers from Illinois include Danica Patrick, Tony Bettenhausen, and Fred Lorenzen.

Aintree Motor Racing Circuit Motor racing circuit in Liverpool, England

Aintree Motor Racing Circuit is a 3-mile (4.83 km) motor racing circuit in the village of Aintree, Merseyside, England. The circuit is located within the Aintree Racecourse and used the same grandstands as horse racing. Built in 1954 as the "Goodwood of the North", hence the fact the two venues had so many things in common. The track was well surfaced and relatively flat – ranging from 15 to about 30 metres in elevation.

The Grand Prix of Miami refers to an intermittent series of American open wheel races held in South Florida dating back to 1926. AAA held one board track race in 1926, and then the facility was destroyed by a hurricane. The popular CART IndyCar World Series debuted in the Miami area in the mid-1980s with a street circuit at Tamiami Park, then returned to race at Bicentennial Park in 1995.

Motorsport in the United States

Motor sports are widely popular in the United States, but Americans generally ignore major international series, such as Formula One and MotoGP, in favor of home-grown racing series.

Texas Grand Prix NASCAR racing at Circuit of the Americas track

The EchoPark Texas Grand Prix is a NASCAR Cup Series stock car race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Introduced in 2021, the race is one of seven road course dates on the Cup Series schedule.


  1. "2015 IFMAR Yatabe Worlds: Astrogate". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  2. http://news.efra.ws/fileadmin/news/2014/12/Result%20postal%20vote%20November%20Electric%20IFMAR2014&Datechange%20%281%29.pdf Archived 2015-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "The track surface for 1/12th Class is recommended to be indoors on standardised needle carpet." IFMAR Electric Track Racing and Technical Rules Archived 2014-08-22 at the Wayback Machine
  4. 2013 ROAR Rulebook Archived 2015-08-17 at the Wayback Machine p. 14
  5. Maurice, Hamilton (2015). Grand Prix Circuits: History and Course Map For Every Formula One Circuit. London. ISBN   9780008136604. OCLC   951146691.