In the year 2023, racing fans are pretty lucky to have so many racing game options to mess around on. Whether you’re an iRacing faithful, really into rFactor 2, ace at Assetto Corsa Competizione or even just great at Gran Turismo 7, there are tons of options to race what you want, when you want and where you want.
Mostly what, when and where, that is. Specifically the latter, where is sometimes limited by the game that’s chosen. While most games are going to have the big facilities like Daytona or Spa-Francorchamps, some tracks aren’t even represented in any video games or simulations whatsoever.
We’re pretty lucky over in the United States of America. The biggest racing series here, NASCAR, has all of their National Series racing venues available on sims like iRacing or even in their own proprietary games like NASCAR Rivals. Still, there are plenty of amazing racing venues over here that aren’t represented officially in any video game whatsoever.
While some games like the original rFactor, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season and Assetto Corsa might have the ability to add an unofficial mod in for whatever track you fancy, having a laser-scanned, mostly accurate representation of any venue is key and what we’re looking at specifically in today’s topic – What American racing venues would we like to race at in our favorite sim racing game titles?
1. Ozarks International Raceway – Gravois Mills, Missouri
Quite possibly one of the most advantageous venues to include on this entire list of tracks, Ozarks International Raceway in Gravois Mills, Missouri is more than just one single configuration. In fact, the future of the facility could lend itself to various forms of motorsports, from road racing to off-road racing and even some playtime in the dirt. One of the cooler aspects of Ozarks is that it’s one of the newest racing facilities in the world.
Ozarks was only recently conceived and brought into this world, having been built in 2020 and opened for the first time in the current 2022 season. The main course is a 19-turn strip of asphalt that measures 3.970-miles or 6.389-kilometers in length. Inside that, there’s an outer course that is 2.5-miles or 4.023-kilometers long, lasting 11 corners, as well as an inner course that’s 1.4-miles or 2.253-kilometers, only containing 9 turns.
On those configurations, Ozarks saw series such as IMSA’s Lamborghini Super Trofeo and SRO’s GT World Challenge of America. The complex is also said to have plans for off-road racing and a dirt tri-oval for traditional dirt racing. So close to being a near-perfect place for iRacing to go out and scan, all it needs is an asphalt oval and it’d be a grand slam venue.
It’s not been around for too long, so it would make sense as to why it hasn’t found its place in any video game or simulation just yet. Regardless, it would be a smashing success to see the road racing part of it in any simulator out there, maybe iRacing in particular to explore those future possibilities of off-road and dirt racing.
2. Evergreen Speedway – Monroe, Washington
Moving towards the many oval tracks seen here in the States, in the Pacific Northwest exists one Evergreen Speedway, the premier short track of the Northwest. Like Ozarks, Evergreen lends itself to be a swiss army knife type of track with multiple different ways to get your race on.
The main venue is the outer oval, a regular 5/8-mile oval. There also exists both a 3/8-mile and 1/5-mile inner oval, plus the way the ovals intersect give the ability to do figure-eight racing. Oh, there’s also a 1/8-mile dragstrip on the premises as well.
A NASCAR Home Track which hosts the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, other events at the fairgrounds include Formula Drift, various local racing classes, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races back in the late 1990s and even a Global Rallycross event back in 2016, which means an off-road or rallycross track configuration once did exist here as well.
Speaking of the Craftsman Trucks, when Evergreen was on the schedule, the track did appear in a couple of Papyrus NASCAR Racing titles. Those are far outdated, and the track has seen various improvements since. While NASCAR itself needs to eventually get out there and get one or more of their National Series racing there again, finding it in a game like iRacing or even somewhere like rFactor 2 or Automobilista 2 would be fun to see.
3. St. Petersburg Street Circuit – St. Petersburg, Florida
Heading in the complete opposite area of the Pacific Northwest, the first of two temporary street circuits on the list is St. Petersberg’s venue, which is down in the Southeast, in Florida. St. Petersburg’s temp course has been an event since the 1980s, modified since but mostly the same venue then that it is today.
Often the season opener to the NTT IndyCar Series, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg shuts down the downtown area as well as one of the runways at Albert Whitted Airport. Part asphalt, part concrete, the 14-corner temp circuit is 2.897-kilometers or, in America, 1.8-miles in length.
While temporary courses exist in simulators and other video games already, and they’ve definitely been recreated in mods for older games, St. Pete has eluded major racing titles for quite a while now while places such as Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan and Long Beach in California have been involved in iRacing for years.
Getting scanning equipment in and out without messing with the race weekend would be a tall task, considering these temporary courses need to revert back to their normal daily functions as soon as possible. Regardless, hopefully, this track is part of the new IndyCar game when that releases in 2023 at the minimum, although it would be great to see it in any of the sims.
4. Nashville Street Circuit – Nashville, Tennessee
The second temporary street circuit is another fairly new venue, and while it wasn’t purpose-built like Ozarks, Nashville’s new Street Circuit is truly a unique new venue in one of America’s music capitals.
Nashville is host to the Music City Grand Prix, a new event that began in 2021. The circuit is 2.170-miles or 3.492-kilometers in length and features 11 turns around the downtown Nashville area. The course races near the Tennessee Titans’ football stadium and goes up and down the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Cumberland River.
If you look at an overhead shot of the track map, it somewhat resembles a musical note. Very clever, being in Music City and all. It’s been a tough one for the IndyCar Series to handle in both years, with a couple of controversies here and there during the events. Still, the temp track is highly unique and would make a fine addition to many racing games out there.
Just like St. Petersburg, however, finding the time to scan the area in-between all the racing action will be the big issue for any street circuit. My hope is that it’s included in the IndyCar title but it would be greatly welcomed in all the other simulators out there as well.
5 & 6. Pikes Peak Hill Climb / Int’l Raceway – Pikes Peak, Colorado
This is a bit of a combination pick, as the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and the Pikes Peak International Raceway are two separate venues in the mountains of Colorado. However, having either or both racing areas of Pikes Peak would be a huge inclusion to many titles.
Just about 30 minutes away from one another, the Pikes Peak International Raceway was my initial thought when procuring this list. A multipurpose track in Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak is mainly an oval track that measures a full mile in length. Pikes Peak’s facility also houses a nine turn, 1.3-mile roval track that races inside the oval and utilizes part of the oval as well. There’s also a quarter mile short oval track on the grounds.
The oval used to host races for the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks and Xfinity Series, as well as NTT IndyCar racing. While the track is still in use, it’s not being used by many big racing series nowadays. The Hill Climb, on the other hand, is still a very popular point-to-point course that’s been referred to as the Race to the Clouds.
This Hill Climb was included on DiRT Rally from 2015, but as that title has just recently come off of virtual shelves, that means the 12.42-mile hill climb with 156 turns is no longer on a currently sold title, which would make it a perfect candidate for something new. iRacing might be the perfect place to house both the Hill Climb and Raceway, as iRacing already has Mt. Washington on their service. I think it’d be a win-win if they scanned the hill climb and stopped at the oval to grab that for posterity’s sake.
7. Winchester Speedway – Winchester, Indiana
Known as the World’s Fastest Half Mile, Winchester Speedway in Indiana intrigues me for a very steep reason – At 37 degrees of banking, there is no other track that has more banking in the entirety of the United States.
A historic site, Winchester’s racing roots date back all the way to the early 1910s. The current-day version of the track was formed in the 1950s, and even still, that makes it one of the oldest ovals in the entire country. It hasn’t hosted any National NASCAR Series racing since the 1950s, but it did host some ARCA racing until recently. Most notably, the Winchester 400 is a famous Super Late Model event that takes place at the facility.
While there are many ovals deserving of being a part of any gaming title, Winchester would just be super fun to experience such banking in a competitive virtual setting. Tracks such as Salem Speedway, Anderson Speedway and Putnam Park would have been great Indiana tracks to include on this list, Winchester just speaks the loudest as one of the most historic and craziest venues to ever exist here in America.
8. Riverhead Raceway – Riverhead, Long Island, New York
I’d be remiss if I left my personal home track off of this list, considering I grew up in its backyard for a decade. Riverhead Raceway is one more oval to the list, a 0.2-mile venue on the east end of Long Island, about an hour removed from New York City and 45 minutes away from Montauk.
Home to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series, plus a list of local racing series that include Legends Cars, Late Models and Super Pro Trucks, Riverhead Raceway is the last standing racetrack on Long Island after places like Westhampton and Islip were shuttered.
The oval sometimes becomes a figure eight track, the interior of the track paved with lines painted in the crossover pattern. Pit road, which is more like a garage area, is on the outside of the track, located in the entrance in Turn 3 and the exit in Turn 4.
Similar to Evergreen, Riverhead is a featured NASCAR Home Track, its marquee event the Islip 300 during the summer months of the season. Again, like Winchester, you really could pick any local oval track of your fancy, but having the ability to compete on your actual home track in any capacity is a feeling I’ve never been able to experience in any video game, and to be fair, Riverhead is only a couple of hours drive away from the iRacing folks up north.