The 50 Greatest Video Game Race Tracks

The 50 Greatest Video Game Race Tracks

50 Greatest Video Game Racing Courses

Let’s face it. Every gamer has their favorite ‘go to’ racing game, with their favorite vehicle, and more importantly their favorite track. Whether it’s a technical, challenging course that requires a keen eye and sharp reflexes, or the crazed hilarity of racing around Rainbow Road with your jaw clenched -- we all have them.

Here at BreakdownCover.org we decided to take some time out of busy schedule (ha!), and begin the mammoth task of compiling our 50 greatest video game race tracks. With a wide variety of courses from an even wider range of video games, we’ve managed to create a pretty solid list of what we believe are 50 of the best racing tracks to ever appear in video games.

Don’t agree with us? Missed out your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

#50. Jungle -- Diddy Kong Racing

Diddy Kong Racing’s Jungle course is a straight-forward and simple circle track. Littered with power-ups and boosting strips throughout, the course isn’t exactly challenging but is still a lot of fun all the same.

#49. Psychedelic Experience -- F-Zero X

Unlike the original, F-Zero X is not about showing off graphics or sound capabilities -- it’s all about gameplay. With a mad soundtrack and wild swooping right and left turns it can be a little tricky staying on the course.The chances are you’ve also played this exact same course on another of the N64′s popular racing games too…

#48. Harborline 765 -- Ridge Racer 6

Ridge Racer 6 is so much of an arcade game that it should come packaged with a limited-edition Xbox 360 faceplate into which you insert quarters. Fans of Namco’s drift-racing series already expect this from the next-generation title and shouldn’t be disappointed. RR6 retains the core gameplay and style that made the original a hit way back on the Playstation.

#47. Fuji -- Speed Racer

It’s a fight to the finish as you compete at amazing speeds, racing as your favorite Speed Racer characters. Perform tricks and pull off insane stunts through incredible, twisting stadium tracks, all while fighting against rival racers with incredible Car-Fu action.

#46. Shuto Expressway -- Tokyo Xtreme Racer

Curious about those individuals who drive tricked-out Japanese cars? You know, the lowered Hondas with tires so wide they extend beyond the fenders, the souped-up Toyotas with super-sized exhaust pipes, and the custom-painted Nissans with tinted windows and back windshields adorned with a adjectives such as “wicked”?

Wonder no more. Tokyo Xtreme Racer delves into the world of highway racing featuring customized Japanese autos. The basic premise: cruise the Tokyo highway until you find someone who looks a bit too cocky, flash your lights to signal your racing intentions, and commence speeding. The racing physics in the game aren’t perfect and the graphics may not bowl you over, but TXR is a lot of fun and it can be a very deep game for dedicated players.

#45. Rocky Pass -- Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed 3 offers five different modes including Single Race, Tournament, Knockout, Practice, and Hot Pursuit. Hot Pursuit is one of the more fun modes you’re likely to see in a racing game, as it gives you the chance to go on the lam and lead the cops on a wild goose chase.

Pay attention, though, because the police have some tricks up their sleeves, namely tire spikes and roadblocks.

#44. Downtown -- Tokyo Highway Battle

Rush hour can be murder on the streets of Tokyo. Race 12 high performance sports cars, avoiding articulated lorries and speeding coaches, to cross the finishing line first.

#43. City -- The Need for Speed

Need for Speed World is a massively multiplayer online action driving game for the PC, where you can race with your friends or compete against them and thousands of other players in a seamless open world. Race in a variety of game modes (including cop pursuits), customize vehicles from a constantly growing catalogue, and fully tailor your gameplay experience.

#42. Gridlock USA -- Burnout

Burnout is a high-risk, high-energy arcade-style street racer. No learning curve is required; just pick up and play. The game monitors your driver’s heart rate, as you’re rewarded for near misses.

There’s only one way to drive in Burnout: dangerously. Force traffic into your opponent’s path and risk a head-on collision to secure a win. Slide, cut close, and drive into oncoming traffic and you’ll be rewarded for your risk taking. Crashes are based on actual crash and damage physics for extra realism.

#41. Super Speedway -- Gran Turismo 2

Jump into one of over 400 cars in Gran Turismo 2 and put the pedal to the metal. Every one of the 400 cars emulates the qualities of their real-world counterparts, including authentic engine sounds.

Several European and American auto makers have been included in this installment of the game, so it’s likely you can find the car you drive and see how it performs against other vehicles.

#40. Airport 3 -- Burnout 2

A sequel which, like its acclaimed predecessor, puts fun right at the top of the agenda, Burnout 2 dispenses with niggling irritants like realism and instead delivers top-class gaming entertainment. Added locations for starters, and the highlights are a twisty road round the Rocky Mountains and an inspired airport-based level.

A greater variety of vehicles are available too, and naturally enough you have to balance your need for speed with a vehicle capable of good handling, taking into account the weather and the kind of level you’re racing across.

#39. Hyper Speedway -- Crash Nitro Kart

Speed your way over 17 incredible, high-speed raceways throughout 4 unique worlds including jungles, volcanoes, futuristic cities, space stations, and more.

Multiple modes of intense multiplayer action allowing up to 8 gamers to race against each other.

#38. Maple Valley Raceway -- Forza Motorsport

In Forza Motorsport, it’s all about you and your car. With over 250 of the baddest racing machines imaginable, an infinite number of ways to customize them, and all the tools you need to tune them to perfection, you’ll find yourself behind the wheel of the slickest vehicles on the planet.

The physics model of each car is based upon actual car data, so your driving feels like the real deal. Plus, Forza has taken meticulous steps to design each car’s visuals according to exact specifications.

#37. Entire World (Free Roam) -- FUEL

In FUEL players race across and explore the world’s largest racing environment – over 5,000 square miles of spectacular wilderness. Set to revolutionize multi-terrain, multi-vehicle racing, FUEL is a fiercely competitive, open-world game without boundaries.

On and off-road, two and four-wheeled vehicles race a massively diverse environment, from scaling the highest snowcapped mountain to racing the deepest arid canyon.

#36. Japan -- DiRT 2

Following on the success of the original Dirt as well as a decade of videogame development in partnership with the late Colin McRae, DiRT 2 explores various disciplines of off-road racing. Dirt 2 features a roster of contemporary off-road events, taking players to the most diverse and challenging real-world environments.

This World Tour has players competing in aggressive multi-car and intense solo races at extraordinary new locations, from canyon racing and jungle trails to city stadium-based events.

#35. LA River -- Blur

Blur is the ultimate racing experience, dropping you into heart-pumping, electrified in-the-pack action with 20 cars targeting the finish line and battling each other as they trade paint. Intense power-ups, including the ability to blast other cars out of the way with huge bursts of energy, as well as defensive shields, nitro speed boosts, and landmines create realistic damage and destruction.

Beyond the action-packed tracks filled with fast curves, sneaky alternate routes, and hair-raising jumps, Blur’s story unfolds through a unique and innovative community-based interface, reaching far beyond the game itself.

#34. Bay Bridge -- Virtua Racer

#33. Smokey Mountain -- Gran Turismo 3

Gran Turismo 3 is everything to everyone. If you’re a casual racer you can blow yourself away in Arcade mode, uncovering hundreds of little bonuses and racing against friends. If you want a bit more depth, there’s the Gran Turismo mode where you can spend time tuning your car, making it purr, winning championships and unlocking more cars.

#32. Mushroom City -- Mario Kart: Double Dash

The Mushroom Kingdom just got a whole lot more hectic as Mario & Co. double up for furious kart racing!The character in front handles driving duties, while the character in the rear doles out damage with six normal items and eight special items that only specific characters can use.

Racers can swap places at any time, so switch it up on the fly to make the best use of your items as you tear around curves and over huge elevation changes.

#31. Grand Valley Speedway -- Gran Turismo (1-5)

The series’ dedication to realism continues, offering painstakingly re-created cars from dozens of real-world auto companies, including first-time entries from supercar manufacturers Bugatti and Lamborghini. There is no dedicated career mode, and unlike previous Gran Turismo games, cars cannot be upgraded with new parts and equipment.

#30. Las Vegas -- Project Gotham Racing 3

Project Gotham Racing 3 creates the ultimate roster of the hottest supercars in existence, introduces them to the high-definition era, and drops them into a completely new gaming world, where style rules the road.

Define and create individually customized gameplay; race on or offline; and drive what you want, where you want. Drive with style and daring to earn Kudos in front of large crowds, and win badges to reward your skills in all areas of the game.

Drive in New York, Tokyo, and many other cities, all brought to life with motion-captured crowds of people

#29. Royal Raceway -- Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64, one of the first games released for the Nintendo 64 platform, is an updated translation of the very popular Super Mario Kart for the Super NES (SNES). And while the game clearly takes full advantage of the graphics power and speed of the N64, a few components that made the original so compelling have been left out of this release.

Still, Nintendo’s expertise at sucking players into the game world is strongly evident, and Mario Kart 64 offers enough challenges to keep players (especially casual gamers) entertained.

Placing a familiar Nintendo personality behind the wheel of a sputtering kart powered by a 50, 100, or 150-cc engine, the game lets players race computerized opponents or up to four other players on a variety of well-designed tracks.

#28. Nissan Speedway -- Forza Motorsport 2/3

Forza Motorsport 2, the sequel to Microsoft Game Studios’ award-winning, fully customizable driving simulator Forza Motorsport, speeds its way onto Xbox 360 this holiday. With authentic simulation physics, bone-jarring damage, photo-realistic graphics, and licensed tuning and customization options, the franchise improves on the unprecedented features gamers enjoyed in its debut installment.

Loaded with more than 300 of the world’s hottest cars for you to collect, personalize and tune, Forza Motorsport 2 gives you a complete racing experience.

#27. Peach Beach -- Mario Kart Double Dash

The Mushroom Kingdom just got a whole lot more hectic as Mario & Co. double up for furious kart racing!The character in front handles driving duties, while the character in the rear doles out damage with six normal items and eight special items that only specific characters can use.

Racers can swap places at any time, so switch it up on the fly to make the best use of your items as you tear around curves and over huge elevation changes.

#26. Mayapan Beach -- Real Racing

#25. London -- Midnight Club: Street Racing

The main premise of Midnight Club Street Racing is that you and your pals take to the streets each night to race hot rods around town. Along the way, you’ll terrorize those pedestrians who are crazy enough to be outdoors at night, and generally crash into anything that’s vertical.

It goes without saying that then you’ll spend most of your daytime hours pounding out the dents from the previous night’s misadventures.

#24. Alcatraz -- Rush 2

Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA is the follow-up to the popular arcade-turned-platform-game San Francisco Rush, offering the signature rambunctious gameplay of the original with several welcomed new features. No longer limited to zipping through the streets of San Francisco, drivers plow through express tours of Seattle, New York (uptown and midtown), Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Honolulu, among other tracks.

An addictive new feature is a stunt track, where players rack up points by performing spectacular jumps, in-air spins, flips, and loops. Ever seen skaters frolicking about at a skateboard park? Think bigger park with frolicking one-ton vehicles. Not the prettiest sight, but so much fun.

#23. Trial Mountain Circuit -- Gran Turismo

The series’ dedication to realism continues, offering painstakingly re-created cars from dozens of real-world auto companies, including first-time entries from supercar manufacturers Bugatti and Lamborghini. There is no dedicated career mode, and unlike previous Gran Turismo games, cars cannot be upgraded with new parts and equipment.

#22. Track 5 -- Excitebike

Excitebike was one of the simplest, but yet most innovative console games of it’s time. Why? It was the first console game to feature an editor for players to create their own tracks and levels. This feature was a huge achievement for a game released so early in the life of the NES.

#21. Blue Mountains Raceway -- Forza Motorsport

In Forza Motorsport, it’s all about you and your car. With over 250 of the baddest racing machines imaginable, an infinite number of ways to customize them, and all the tools you need to tune them to perfection, you’ll find yourself behind the wheel of the slickest vehicles on the planet.

The physics model of each car is based upon actual car data, so your driving feels like the real deal. Plus, Forza has taken meticulous steps to design each car’s visuals according to exact specifications.

#20. Twilight City -- Wave Race 64

The scenario for Wave Race is fairly simple -- jet ski racing through a variety of water courses. The game offers three different modes: time challenge, championship circuit, and stunt mode. Each has its own merits, but the championship circuit is the game’s bread and butter. A two-player, split screen mode also makes for fairly good competition, but the smaller play area detracts from the drama.

It’s exhilarating to feel the water under the jet ski, as it slaloms through beacons on the way to the finish line, with jumps providing truly visceral landings. Most games only dream of the advanced play control of Wave Race. Once players fully explore the nine courses, they’ll really come to appreciate their intricacies.

#19. Florion Height -- Wipeout Fusion

This reinvention of the popular antigravity racing combat game features 32 ship models, 16 pilots in eight teams, 45 tracks on seven different courses, six single-player modes, five multiplayer modes, and 26 weapons. Track locations include jungle, desert, city, and mountain settings. The biggest tracks are three times longer than any previous Wipeout circuit.

The game features six racing modes, including a revised arcade mode, a full league option, and an elimination mode, as well as time trial, endurance racing, and a secret “zone” mode. Once certain parts of the game are complete, a reverse track mode is unlocked.

#18. Opera Paris -- Gran Turismo for PSP

The highly acclaimed Gran Turismo franchise makes its equally highly anticipated debut exclusively on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) system, introducing the most ultra-realistic racing experience ever on a handheld. Buckle up as you prove your driving skills on 35 tracks and trade and share over 800 stunning cars.

With its unrivaled graphics, ad hoc multiplayer support for four racers and bonus feature for Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3, Gran Turismo continues to lead the pack, now on the PSP system.

#17. New York City -- Forza Motorsport 2/3

Whether it’s an exotic sports car like the new Audi R8 V10, a classic American muscle car like the Ford GT or a hot Asian import like the Nissan 370Z, everyone has a dream car. Now you can drive that dream with Turn 10′s latest racing epic.

Live the most realistic racing experience ever as you take the wheel of more than 400 of the most-beloved cars on over 100 renowned real-world tracks and exotic road courses from around the globe. Forza Motorsport 3 includes a host of driving assists and adjustable skill levels to make the game a gripping pick-up-and-play experience for audiences of all ages and skill levels.

#16. Shanghai -- Project Gotham Racing 4

Right from the starting line, Project Gotham Racing 4 creates an emotionally-charged racing experience, where you become attached to your careers, profiles, and vehicles. There are several new features that embody this emotional experience, the most significant being the new career mode.Get ready to be rewarded with a growing fanbase that cheers you on, reacts to your every move, and supports you through victory. Just imagine hearing the roar of the crowd as you cross the finish line with your own style and flair.

#15. Apricot Hill Raceway -- Gran Turismo 4

Not only does GT4 bring you the rare opportunity to drive hundreds of cars, it also offers you a vast collection of actual racing locations. Rip through the exotic Costa di Malfi in Capri, burn rubber through the urban jungle of Hong Kong, or throw up some serious dust at the Grand Canyon — no matter where you decide to race, you’ll love driving any of the game’s fourteen tracks. Feeling nostalgic? With Gran 4, you can even race on some of your old, favorite tracks from previous editions.

#14. Olympic Square -- Need for Speed Underground

Take on 20 racing machines from Mitsubishi Motors, Subaru, Toyota and many more. Racing events including -- Drag Racing -- Explode off of the line with three other racers, on the brink of control, as you race for the finish line. Street Racing -- Heat up the cold city streets with some high octane and high speed racing.

#13. DK Summit -- Mario Kart Wii + Double Dash

The worldwide race is on with a whole new set of tricks, tracks, and ways to play! Place first in Grand Prix circuits or clear skill-based missions. Mario Kart Wii draws on courses and battle arenas from every game in the series – not to mention tons of new ones – the true king of the Mushroom Kingdom racing circuits will finally be crowned.

#12. Motorland -- Gran Turismo 4

Not only does GT4 bring you the rare opportunity to drive hundreds of cars, it also offers you a vast collection of actual racing locations. Rip through the exotic Costa di Malfi in Capri, burn rubber through the urban jungle of Hong Kong, or throw up some serious dust at the Grand Canyon — no matter where you decide to race, you’ll love driving any of the game’s fourteen tracks. Feeling nostalgic? With Gran 4, you can even race on some of your old, favorite tracks from previous editions.

#11. High Level -- Ridge Racer

Scorch some asphalt in 24 circuits of breakneck speed and exhilaration -- that’s all that stands between you and glory. Beat the clock in Time Attack Mode or test your racing skills against up to 8 players in WiFi compatible Wireless Battle Mode.

Drive in style and rise through the ranks to unlock hidden bonuses in World Tour Mode.

#10. Deep Forest Raceway -- Gran Turismo 2

The original Gran Turismo is generally credited as the best driving game ever released on the PlayStation. That’s a tough claim to beat, but the best contender to steal those bragging rights is, of course, the much-anticipated sequel Gran Turismo 2.

This time the driving action takes place on 20 different racing courses--almost double the number in the original game. There are more than 400 cars to choose from, including newly added “muscle cars” and even a VW Beetle! While some racing games slide by with less-than-realistic driving control, the Gran Turismo series has won over die-hard car fanatics with its attention to detail and realism. For example, this game gives you the freedom to modify your engine to maximize your driving performance. While not all gamers will care about adjusting their axle width or suspension, it is a nice option for those of us who like to get under the hood before we go.

#9. Chicago -- Midtown Madness

Midown Madness lets players live out their road-rage fantasies by turning downtown Chicago into a racetrack. And we do mean downtown Chicago--the game’s developers modeled the city. It’s not street-for-street accurate, but anyone who’s visited Chicago will recognize landmarks and general street layout, if not individual buildings.

Apparently nobody told the hapless citizens of the Windy City that you’d be racing through their streets, since steady streams of traffic crisscross in front of your car and hamper your progress. Expect to be blind-sided if you run a red light, and driving the wrong way on the freeway is not for the faint of heart. Let the cops catch wind of your escapades, and you’ll re-create the last chase scene from Blues Brothers as they chase you down.

#8. Port Town -- F-Zero

F-Zero delivers the excellent play control you’ve come to expect in a game from Mr. Miyamoto and his team at Nintendo. You can bank with the R Button and tip down your nose while making jumps. You’ll need all the control you can get, too, as you roar through the twists and turns of F-Zero’s 15 deviously difficult courses. There are four hover cars to choose from, each with its own strong points and weak points. Most beginners find the durability and handling of the Fire Stingray easiest to use (despite poor acceleration), but veteran players will often choose the more-balanced Blue Falcon.

#7. Rainbow Road -- Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64, one of the first games released for the Nintendo 64 platform, is an updated translation of the very popular Super Mario Kart for the Super NES (SNES). And while the game clearly takes full advantage of the graphics power and speed of the N64, a few components that made the original so compelling have been left out of this release.Placing a familiar Nintendo personality behind the wheel of a sputtering kart powered by a 50, 100, or 150-cc engine, the game lets players race computerized opponents or up to four other players on a variety of well-designed tracks.

#6. Rome Circuit -- Gran Turismo 3

Gran Turismo 3 is everything to everyone. If you’re a casual racer you can blow yourself away in Arcade mode, uncovering hundreds of little bonuses and racing against friends. If you want a bit more depth, there’s the Gran Turismo mode where you can spend time tuning your car, making it purr, winning championships and unlocking more cars.

#5. Airport Terminal -- Split Second

Split/Second is an intense action-racing game set within a global reality television show. Competitors vie to be the first to the finish line in a made-for-TV city set rigged to blow with the ultimate goal of becoming the season champion.

Players in Split/Second don’t just collide with other vehicles to knock them from the track, but can also trigger devastating events and epic Hollywood-style explosions to take out your opponents and drastically alter the dynamics of the race.

Being fast is not enough as players must use strategy and pinpoint timing to obliterate huge structures and towering TV set pieces to tactically alter the track or create entirely new routes.

#4. Banshee Boardwalk -- Mario Kart 64

Mario Kart 64, one of the first games released for the Nintendo 64 platform, is an updated translation of the very popular Super Mario Kart for the Super NES (SNES). And while the game clearly takes full advantage of the graphics power and speed of the N64, a few components that made the original so compelling have been left out of this release.Placing a familiar Nintendo personality behind the wheel of a sputtering kart powered by a 50, 100, or 150-cc engine, the game lets players race computerized opponents or up to four other players on a variety of well-designed tracks.

#3. Ice Arena -- Gran Turismo 4

Not only does GT4 bring you the rare opportunity to drive hundreds of cars, it also offers you a vast collection of actual racing locations. Rip through the exotic Costa di Malfi in Capri, burn rubber through the urban jungle of Hong Kong, or throw up some serious dust at the Grand Canyon — no matter where you decide to race, you’ll love driving any of the game’s fourteen tracks. Feeling nostalgic? With Gran 4, you can even race on some of your old, favorite tracks from previous editions.

#2. LA Freeway -- Cruis’n USA

Slam the pedal to the metal and hang on for a wild race across the highways of America. Catch all the roadside scenery and famous landmarks -- from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore to the rolling hills of Appalachia.

#1. Bowser’s Castle - Super Mario Kart

Number 1 on our list, and in our eyes the ‘greatest video game race track of all time’ is Bowser’s Castle from the original Super Mario Kart game. So it might not be as visually stunning or as well detailed as some of the other tracks on our list, but gosh darn it we just love it.

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11 Comments

  1. What? No Boulder Canyon from Diddy Kong Racing?

    Now THAT’S seriously a bad ass track which the track being tight ermakes it even more of a butt kicker especially yours if you so much as hit a wall.

    You need some serious skills to navigate the tight turns and changes from water to land on that track.

    The fun part is a castle which you can seriously screw your opponents up if you raise the drawbridge at the right time then they have to go the long way around. Hope it isn’t you! :)

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  2. Wipeout 2097 easily features some of my favorite track design. The coarses are real technical circuits that throw everything at you. In a way they follow increadibly fanciful F1 style designs that test out the versatility of the crafts. Due to the limitations of the hardware the tracks can be a bit tight in a Monaco kind of way, but that just added to its character, after all people love Monaco for a reason. I’ld say the best are from the game are:

    1 Odessa Keys
    2 Gare d’Europa
    3 Sagarmatha

    Oh and the last two tracks are out of the world insane. Great way to end the game but don’t make to top 3 because they can kind of feel like navigating a helicopter in a building.

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  3. Can’t believe that Namco’s Winning Run or Atari’s Hard Drivin is not in the list…. Although graphics have evolved so much, the feeling of driving a car has never been more realistic than in those two coinops!

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  4. I don’t know if I read it right, but where’s Gran Turismo 1′s Special Stage Route 11? That track just rocks.

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  5. Wait.. you list Rainbow Road – Mario Kart 64… but that’s NOT MK64′s Rainbow Road.

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  6. John Paul II says:

    So there I was, scrolling down, expecting to see a track from the excellent PS1 Wipeout games, and instead there’s a track from WIPEOUT FUSION! That game was a joke.

    Tut tut.

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  7. No Star-Wars Pod-Racer ?
    There were some damn fine tracks in that game !

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  8. No Out Run in a top 50 race track list, how dare you!

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  9. lol, they posted rainbow road but labeled it for the n64.

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  10. What no Fujimi Kaido (Forza 3) or El Capitan (Gran Turismo 4)?

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  11. No arcade course? 3-7 Speedway?

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