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My Favorite Tracks: #26-30

Updated: 2 days ago

Yesterday we reviewed the bottom three - here are the next 5. Please remember, even a day at a bad track is better than a good day at work.

#30 MSR Houston, Angleton TX

TrackPAX: 99.1 CW, 98.4 CCW

https://msrhouston.com/

I have only been to MSR-Houston once, and my trip was in the somewhat distant aftermath of a hurricane and flooding in 2018, so my opinion may be improperly skewed. But as far as facilities go, this may be the saddest track in the country. And not because its the worst, because there are worse facilities, but because the gap between what it could be (or perhaps was) and what it was then is the biggest. The general idea is great, plenty of paved parking, condos and plenty of buildings that could provide a nice respite from the oppressive Texas heat. Its just it looks like it has not had a good life - kind of like the adage of a horse that's been rode hard and put up wet (in case you have never seen a horse sweat, its amazing, but I digress). The track design itself is entertaining and provides some nice places for passing, so it gets better than average marks there. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on track and the rental provided by Phillips Race Prep was well suited to the course. The community at the track was tight, and being an outsider was clearly noted, but I had a good time, so don't let the low rating keep you away. Car counts in some classes were absolutely world class and the level of competition was great. Unfortunately, while hotels are close, nothing else really is, so bring a laptop to cover your down time. They also run a pretty darn good school and the lack of elevation or trees is good for learning as even a novice can easily see the track well ahead of them. So if you are in the area and want to start racing its a great place to get your license.

FUN TO DRIVE

2.5

TECHNICAL DESIGN

3.5

COMPETITOR ATMOSPHERE

1

PADDOCK/FACILITIES

1

OFF TRACK ATTRACTIONS

1

AURA/MYSTIQUE

1

GRAND TOTAL

10/30 = 33%



#29 Gateway (Worldwide Technology Raceway) Madison IL

TrackPAX: 101.8

https://wwtraceway.com/


St Louis is an awesome place to spend a weekend. East St Louis? Not so much. At least St Louis is just across the Mississippi and a nice and easy drive from Gateway so my rating gets better points here. For a roval, the track is interesting enough, mainly because the time you spend on the banking is once per lap and not overly boring. Probably too because its a much smaller oval than the other rovals on the list. The downside is aside from pulling out of the draft and diving underneath into T1, there is no other good passing location. At least T1 is interesting and fun, just don't make a mistake - it is tight enough to bite and bite hard. The rest of the turns are pretty meh, maybe in a much faster car they would be more interesting. It has a lot to do with my ratings that I drive slower FWD cars - I can totally see that faster cars and drivers would have other opinions. The paved paddock inside the track is nice but easily overfull because there is also a karting facility that stays open inside the track. So on one of my visits we had to paddock outside, which, while it was nice to have extra space, its was remote from all the action and announcements. At least the bathrooms were above average.

FUN TO DRIVE

2.5

TECHNICAL DESIGN

1.5

COMPETITOR ATMOSPHERE

1

PADDOCK/FACILITIES

1

OFF TRACK ATTRACTIONS

3

AURA/MYSTIQUE

1

GRAND TOTAL

10/30 = 33%



#28 Palm Beach International, Jupiter FL

TrackPAX: Unrated

NO LONGER IN SERVICE


I don't care how bad a track is, anytime we lose a race track in this country it makes me sad. And such is the case with the former Moroso Park, called Palm Beach International under its last lease at life. The track dealt with rumors of sale for warehouses for a couple of years before it finally and permanently closed, and I am glad I got a chance to race there before it happened. One thing I will not miss is the track surface - this may be the second worst surface I ever drove on - not because it was bumpy, but like Rockingham, I think they used crushed oyster shells in the pavement due to the proximity to the coast. I have never seen a track do more damage to a tire than these two tracks. If you were to race there you would certainly need a spare set, I don't care how new your tires were. As far as track layout the chicane right after the start was interesting, but the squashed shape of the track made it feel like M1 Councourse (#33 on this list) - a dragstrip connected by a few sharp corners. Once again the track was helped in its rating by proximity to the ocean - only 30 minutes away. Not a track I would have been eager to return to, still sad to see it gone.

FUN TO DRIVE

2

TECHNICAL DESIGN

2

COMPETITOR ATMOSPHERE

2

PADDOCK/FACILITIES

1

OFF TRACK ATTRACTIONS

3

AURA/MYSTIQUE

1

GRAND TOTAL

11/30 = 37%


#27 Nelson Ledges, Garrettsville OH

TrackPAX: 102.8

http://www.nelsonledges.com/


Nelson Ledges has the unfortunate result to score 0 points in two different categories on a scale of 1-5 for all the other tracks (no other track got even one). Clearly the absolute worst paddock I have ever been to. There is no pavement at all, a few spots of gravel and the rest is a wonderful massive grass field. Which works if its dry. I have been here many times and its almost always wet (if you see me on the entry list, bring rain tires), and I am almost always stuck and need to be pulled out. Built in/on a swamp the ground just does not drain properly. On a plus side the owners always have tractors on hand to pull you out and have started investing in the facility with the previous gravelly pothole filled access roads upgraded with a nice crushed pavement. The bathrooms though......I will leave you with that thought. The track itself is fun, sort of a east coast version of Willow Springs without the elevation change. The sheer speed of the corners makes every turn interesting and a matter of your confidence as much as your skill. It is said the track is the fastest road course in the country outside of rovals and I believe it. I personally find too it has more passing zones than most tracks, so that is nice. And the people here, including the track owners, are pretty welcoming. In fact, I have never seen a track with more personal appearances by the owners so that is a positive. The other area the track gets a 0 is it is also the most remote track with the least available facilities, hotels and restaurants I have been to. High Plains in Colorado is similar but at least the surrounding plains are beautiful. This part of Ohio has only the occasional Amish Wagon as a redeeming feature.

FUN TO DRIVE

3

TECHNICAL DESIGN

3

COMPETITOR ATMOSPHERE

3

PADDOCK/FACILITIES

0

OFF TRACK ATTRACTIONS

0

AURA/MYSTIQUE

2

GRAND TOTAL

11/30 = 37%


#26 Pocono, Longpond PA

TrackPAX: 99.2

https://www.poconoraceway.com/

I am cheating here a bit as I have never raced at Pocono. But I did run a massive autocross event and just may have snuck onto the road course when I wasn't supposed to and driven it, so I will give it a rating (and come back later to update when I do race it). Like most ovals, the course itself is pretty meh - the need to slow people down to turn onto the oval is worse than most since its well over 90 degrees and extremely tight. The atmosphere of being on a pro track comes through but unlike most tracks I never felt the special tingle, its almost as if the track had no soul. I rated it a 3 here because it is possible it has alot to do with the fact when I was there there were no locals. The facilities are average but at least the surrounding mountains provide a ton of opportunity for bed and breakfasts and exploring, so it gets higher marks there. Short summary because it was more than 30 years since I have been there. Hopefully there is another race in 2023 or 2024 so I can return and update.


FUN TO DRIVE

2

TECHNICAL DESIGN

2

COMPETITOR ATMOSPHERE

1

PADDOCK/FACILITIES

1

OFF TRACK ATTRACTIONS

3

AURA/MYSTIQUE

3

GRAND TOTAL

12/30 = 40%

Come back tomorrow for #21-25.

https://www.grasspaddock.com/post/my-favorite-tracks-21-25


Or, if you are reading this top to bottom, go here

https://www.grasspaddock.com/post/the-bottom-3-even-bad-tracks-are-good-mostly


Or, if you want to see the grading criteria

https://www.grasspaddock.com/post/my-favorite-tracks-your-mileage-may-vary




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