The Top 10 City Circuits

Follow in the wheel tracks of some of the world's greatest racing drivers in a selection of Grand Prix and other famous auto-racing street circuits.
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Plaza de La Virgen, Valencia, Spain
Plaza de La Virgen, Valencia, Spain  (Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Trois-Rivières, Canada
The 1.5-mile (2.4 km) circuit skirts the grounds of the Trois-Rivières' exhibition center near the St. Lawrence River. Start in Avenue Gilles-Villeneuve and drive counterclockwise. Head past the swimming pool under the concrete Porte Duplessis, then up by the baseball stadium, before taking a 90-degree left down Rue Calonne. Navigate the sharpest of the circuit's ten turns to head back to Avenue Gilles-Villeneuve and the finishing line. PLANNING: Check to see if there are races, fairs, or other entertainments at the grounds.

St. Petersburg, Florida
The current Grand Prix circuit in St. Petersburg takes in a length of landing strip at Albert Whitted Airport, so you'll have to go back to the original 1985 Trans-Am course, starting beside the Bayfront Arena parking lot. Head up Beach Drive Northeast to 5th Avenue Northeast, then back down past the pier on Bayshore Drive. PLANNING: Start early, especially in peak season (December through April).

Los Angeles, California
TV host and car-lover Jay Leno recommends a 13-mile (21 km) circuit of his home city. He starts at Mulholland Drive, where so many Hollywood movies have been shot and where Steve McQueen and other stars used to race. Head east to Laurel Canyon, turning right and right again onto Sunset Boulevard. Carry on through Beverly Hills, turning up Coldwater Canyon to complete the circuit. PLANNING: Get up early for clear roads.

Montevideo, Uruguay
By the beach in Montevideo, lively Parque Rodó has played host to Grand Prix contests and occasionally becomes the focus of a motor-racing circuit. Drive along the seaside ramblas (promenades) of the Punta Carretas neighborhood, with its golf course (look out for parrots in the trees), from Playa Ramirez to Playa Pocitas. PLANNING: Punta Carretas has the best dining in Montevideo.

Melbourne, Australia
The distinct pleasure of the Australian Grand Prix road circuit in Melbourne is that it surrounds the lake in Albert Park, a large area of outdoor activity enjoyed by joggers, skateborders, cyclists, rowers, yachtsmen, and picnickers using public barbecues. The circuit runs for 3.3 miles (5.3 km) around the park, with 15 turns and few long straits for overtaking—not a problem for the civilian driver. PLANNING: Albert Park is a couple of miles from the center of Melbourne. The Grand Prix is in March, when there is also a carnival.

Reproduced with permission from Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips, 2010, National Geographic. All rights reserved.

Published: 13 Apr 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Jul 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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