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The 12 Most Awesome Race Tracks On The Planet

07/04/2013 19:51 BST | Updated 04/06/2013 10:12 BST

There are no two ways about it - racing tracks are cool. Even when there are no cars on them, just looking at the chicanes and the straights brings home the smell of burning rubber and the excitement that goes with it.

This planet is home to some fantastic tracks, just 12 of which are below. If you can think of any others, please let us know!

Spa Francorchamps

This Belgian track is over 100 years old and is packed with history, having hosted both F1 and 24 hour GT races. Originally it was 14km long but today stands closer to half that, and is popular with drivers and fans alike due to the huge slope and fast corners. To top it off, it looks amazing from the air - which for some (myself included) is the sign of a great track.

Nordschleife

Nordschleife is the original Nurburgring - a word synonymous with motor racing history. The breathtaking 22.8km track is still in use, just not for F1 due to it being too dangerous, which says a lot. For just €26 per lap members of the public can drive this track, and all the big car makers use Nordschleife as a testing track. It's fast, it's dangerous - it's brilliant.

Bathurst

Bathurst is the only Australian track on the list, perhaps due to Australian racing not having the global appeal. But Bathurst itself is famous for its Bathurst is uniqueness: starting low in a valley, drivers quickly find themselves climbing a mountain on and after the first corner. The track is tight, compact and leaves no room for error - making it fascinating for spectators of the Bathurst 1000 and other races too.

Monte Carlo

Without a doubt one of the most famous race tracks in the world. Whether you agree with that statement or not, its popularity alone is reason enough for its inclusion in this list. Famous for using the streets of Monaco, the race provides unparalleled views for F1 fans and provides for tight racing where overtaking chances have to be taken immaculately. A brilliant track for brilliant driving.

Laguna Seca

Laguna Seca, in the USA, is one of many great circuits in North America. It's a 3.6km track that has been hosting great car and bike races since 1957 in the California sunshine. With eleven turns, the track is home to the famous 'corkscrew', and was originally built around a lake, which has now dried up (laguna seca means 'dry lagoon' in Spanish).

Zeltweg

Officially known as the Red Bull Ring thanks to modern corporate rules of let's-sponsor-everything, the Zeltweg is with a doubt Austria's finest track. Originally the A1 ring, the track suffered from immense financial problems until Red Bull rescued it (sponsorship not always bad, it would seem). Every corner is fast and furious, and there are ups and downs aplenty. The worst thing about the 4.3km Zeltweg? That it no longer hosts F1 races.

Silverstone

As a Brit, it would be impossible for me to compile a list of the world's greatest tracks without including Silverstone. The Northamptonshire circuit is home to some of the most popular corners amongst drivers, including Becketts and Copse, and what the track lacks in scenery (no mountains besides this one) it makes up for in history, speed and (quite often) weather-based-drama. At 5.9km, Silverstone is up there with Monte Carlo in terms of fame and has seen some great moments in motorsport history.

Monza

Another famous name. Monza is the fastest F1 track on the modern calendar, with cars flying around at 340kmh. Ferrari's playground, as Monza is known, is 5.7km long and has 11 corners and has been around since 1922. Monza is one of the worst F1 tracks in terms of fatal accidents, having claimed the lives of 52 drivers and even 35 spectators - mostly from its early days.

Hockenheimring

A track that oozes history, the old Hockenheimring consisted of long, speed loving straights mixed up with hard braking points and challenging corners. Challenging for drivers and entertaining for spectators, which is the crucial combination for any good track. The twisty stadium section, surrounded by the grandstands, has seen some great drama, including Rubens Barrichello's first F1 win in 2000. Unfortunately the track was re-designed in 2001 after demands from F1 officials. Historic parts of the track, such as the forest area, are now consigned to the history books. It was controversial, and those who demanded the move have still not been forgiven by some.

Le Mans

Officially known as the Circuit de la Sarthe, this track is synonymous with one race - the 24 hour race around a combination of the 13km track and normal streets. The race, and by extension the circuit, continues to be extremely popular. The track opened in 1923 and, as well as Le Mans 24 hour, has hosted MotoGP, the French Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 hour Moto. The track has seen many changes over the years, but crucially (and unlike the Hockenheimring) the changes have always respected what is loved about the circuit - its speed.

Shanghai International Circuit

The Shanghai International Circuit is by far the newest circuit on the list, and is included not for its short past, but for what the future holds. Still under ten years old, the Chinese Grand Prix will undoubtedly be on the F1 calendar for years to come with F1's popularity in China still surging. The 5.4km circuit cost $450m to construct, and Michael Schumacher's lap record of 1:32.238 still stands from the year it opened (2004). Another of Hermann Tilke's modern circuits, the Shanghai International Circuit includes his trademark - a long back straight followed by a hairpin turn.

Autódromo José Carlos Pace

More commonly known simply as Interlagos (the town where it is based), the Autódromo José Carlos Pace is home to the Brazilian Grand Prix and is named after the Brazilian driver who died in a 1977 plane crash. The track, which is 4.3km and has 15 turns, saw a number of fatal accidents in 2011 which led to F1 announcing that several changes would be made in 2012 - including an expanded run-off at the final corner and new pit entrance. The start line was also due to be moved.