Most of us never get a chance to take our car to its absolute limits and find out what it can really do. Unless you visit a track and know how to properly drive, you’ll never experience how your car behaves at the very edge and get that thrill and adrenaline rush we’re all after. Public roads aren’t safe, or legal, for fast driving. There’s tons of traffic, stop lights, and if you make one mistake you die. Thankfully, there are places where you can legally and safely push your car to its limits.
If you want to test your car’s top speed, this is where you go to do it. It’s a 7.8-mile long track that’s also 53 feet wide. The banked circle has what’s known as “neutral speeds”. This means that each of the three lanes are perfectly banked and designed for speed, so you could in theory take your hands off the steering wheel and the car would follow the lane on its own endlessly. The outermost lane can travel at 149 mph without having to turn the wheel. Legally, this is the best place to go to if you want to speed.
The Dragon’s Tail
Located in Tennessee/North Carolina, this world-renowned road is famous for being extremely exciting and fun to drive. It’s also one of the deadliest however. Throughout its 11 miles it twists and bends in ways that a lot of drivers simply don’t expect. It’s got a 1,085 foot in elevation change and 318 curves. It’s a road which can be enjoyed within the speed limit, but a lot of people push too far and end up crashing. Sadly, this road is responsible for 30 deaths since the year 2000.
Nihon Romantic Highway
It may be called the romantic highway, but there’s nothing romantic about it. This Japanese mountain road is located on a mountain so it offers some truly breathtaking scenery, but it’s full of sharp bends ready to bite you if you’re not paying attention. It’s perfect for drifting which is why a lot of Japanese drifters go there at night to drift illegally. Do note however, that this is not a road for the inexperienced.
California State Route 243
This is a scenic 30-mile stretch of road running from Banning to Idyllwild in Southern California. It’s also known as the Esperanza Firefighters Memorial Highway. It’s got the perfect mix of long, flat straightaways and tight, twisty turns. It’s a great road if you just want to go out for a drive and forget all your troubles, at least for a couple of hours.
If you want to test your car’s reliability rather than its performance, this is the place to take it to. Many car manufacturers like to test their cars on the Pan-American Highway because this road is incredibly long and incredibly tough in a couple of sections. It stretches for over 30,000 miles, so it would take you 500 hours or 20 days to drive completely at a steady 60 mph.
All you speed freaks out there, this one is for you. The famous Autobahn in Germany is known for many things. Safety and efficiency being two of them, but perhaps most famously speed being the number one. Although the Autobahn is completely unrestricted on a number of sections, the vast majority of it is indeed restricted. If you want to speed you’ll have to find an unrestricted section where you can go completely flat to the floor and stretch your car’s legs a little bit. Be warned however, the Germans don’t take kindly to “American driving styles”. The rule in Germany is to move over to the right as soon as you make a pass on the outside lane, no matter how fast you’re going. Because remember, in Germany and on the Autobahn, someone is always going faster than you.
One of the most famous yet mysterious tracks in the entire world. This is the birthplace of every single great Ferrari car ever built. Enzo Ferrari used it to test his cars back in the day and it’s still the proving ground for each and every one of Ferrari’s modern cars, including the F1 cars. The circuit is 1.86 miles long and an F1 car can hit around 180 mph on the main straightaway. Although Ferrari don’t just allow anyone to enter, you can be a part of one of their test drive days and find out how good Fiorano is for yourself.
San Bernardino Pass
Top Gear called it the greatest road in the world and it’s not hard to see why. This is as scenic of a road as they come, and it’s one of the most mesmerizing things to see in person. It’s full of endless hairpins and a staggering elevation change. Although nowadays it’s full of tourists, if you get up in the morning at dawn you can have the road almost to yourself. The great thing about the San Bernardino Pass is that it’s as great to drive in a Fiat 500 as it is in a Ferrari 458.
Regarded as one of the most dangerous stretches of road on the planet, it’s also one of the busiest. Getting to Halsema Highway isn’t an easy task however. The network of roads surrounding it is poor to say the least, and a lot of the roads are filled with potholes and bumps. Once you get to Halsema Highway though, you forget about everything else. Just be sure to take it easy in the wet. The asphalt is notoriously slippery in the wet. Drifts, both wanted and unwanted, are a common occurrence.
We end this list with what is, we thing, the greatest track on the planet. They call it the Green Hell, and for a good reason. The Nurburgring stretches for 23 kilometers and is surrounded by gorgeous German scenery on all sides. Although most manufacturers like to test their cars there, the Nurburgring often hosts track days where anyone from the general public can go out and test their car for a small fee. The catch? There are little to no runoff areas so it’s very easy to crash.