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HomeClassic Car InvestTracks visited once but sadly never again | Column | Articles

Tracks visited once but sadly never again | Column | Articles


A column by our publisher, Tim Suddard, has been making the rounds on our online outlets recently. In this piece from last summer, Tim details some of his favorite race tracks. And although he missed a couple that I may have certainly included, it’s a solid list.

I won’t bore you with the exact same topic—I’ll wait a far more respectable amount of time before shamelessly ripping off a colleague’s idea like that—but Tim’s list did get me thinking about places I’ve driven that stuck in my memory.

The hook of my concept, however—which, I must remind you, is totally different from Tim’s concept—is that I’m focusing on places I may never get to drive again. Indeed, checking all the boxes on this list may be hard for anyone reading this, but I’ll tease you nonetheless.

I’ll start with the track that you’re most likely to be able to experience on this list: Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, located about half an hour west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Wait,” you say, “I’ve driven Hallett a bunch, and I live in [insert semi-major city within a 6-hour drive here].”

Yeah, but have you driven it backward?

No, not looking out your back window while in reverse, but clockwise—counter to the direction the track normally flows.

In my humble opinion, that’s the superior direction of travel for this central Oklahoma gem of a track. The uphill braking into the first turn, the hump before the final turn—it’s all just so good and so fun to attack. If you ever get the chance to attend any event on a clockwise Hallett, absolutely go for it.

Next up is a track you’re less likely to drive, but there’s still a shot, and I encourage you to take it if you get the chance. When Honda revealed the current version of the Civic Type R to North American journalists, its choice of venue was Montreal, and it wasn’t just the smoked meat that made an impression on me.

Circuit ICAR, located about 45 minutes northwest of downtown, sits on the site of a former international airport turned into a multipurpose automotive playground. Honda let us loose on the 2.1-mile road course in the new Type R, and it immediately became one of my favorite tracks. You wouldn’t think that a track laid out on featureless airport concrete would have a lot of character, but the main circuit at ICAR is a medium-speed delight with a combination of corners that provides a little bit of everything while never being overly busy.

No track with such little elevation change should have so much spirit—and no, Sebring doesn’t count, because its bumps account for about three Road Atlantas worth of elevation.

Still, our Canadian friends could—and should—get to ICAR if they have a chance. And once the borders open back up, it’s worth the road trip from the U.S., I assure you. But the next pick is going to be tougher for everyone.

Located on a rustic island in the middle of the Baltic Sea is, for reasons known only to the many goats that inhabit the island, an absolutely lovely and fun race track. The Gotlandring, located in the northern part of the Swedish isle of Gotland, was the site of BMW’s rollout of the M version of the 1 Series.

When I drove it, it was still under construction. The main circuit was completed, but the same couldn’t be said for the facilities and landscaping—plus, the construction equipment was still present in every view. It added an industrial, otherworldly quality that still couldn’t overshadow the extremely cool car and the amazing track.

So many modern tracks seem soulless and overly geometrically precise. Even though we were among the first people to ever drive on Gotlandring, it felt like a track that had been there forever. It seemed to flow through the natural terrain as though the corners were shaped by what the land allowed rather than a computer’s algorithm.

Today, Gotlandring looks just as striking in its more completed form. Windmills and solar panels have been installed between the corners, as Gotlandring strives to become one of the world’s least environmentally impactful race tracks. That’s a goal roughly parallel to “most pregnant virgin,” but every concession that motorsports makes to the overall well-being of the environment is a plus for the sport in general.

Finally, I’ll discuss the track that I know none of you will ever drive—because even I don’t remember exactly where it is, and I think it’s gone anyway.

When Subaru dropped the first U.S. version of the WRX STI, the press drive for that spectacular machine took place on Vancouver Island. During our journey around the central part of the island—straight-up one of the most beautiful places on Earth—one of our route directions took us off the road and onto an abandoned airfield where a no-fooling, national-level autocross course had been set up.

The utter absurdity of driving a fantastic course—press launch autocrosses can typically be a little hinky—in a fantastic car with the majesty of the Canadian wilderness being the only thing in sight is exceeded only by the fact that I can’t for the life of me find the place on Google Maps anymore, leading me to wonder if I imagined the whole thing.

I suppose if I did, I have a pretty good imagination. Now go find your own hidden tracks.


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