Hooniverse Asks: What's the Coolest Auto Maker Test Track?

Before you’re ever given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a new car, you can bet that its design – the suspension, engine dynamics and wedgie-creating likelihood of its seats – have all been tested on the manufacturer’s test track.
Maybe it was accomplished on the factory roof, as was Fiat’s bent back in the day. Or, perhaps it was wrung out on that go-to track for makers who either want to build bonafides, or just can’t afford their own asphalt; the Nürburgring.
Some car makers have secret tracks, while others have circuits almost as famous as the cars that ply their straights and corners. What we want to know today, is which one of those – secret or well-known – you think is the coolest.
Image: Slate

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  1. 0A5599 Avatar

    Hennessey cut a deal with the cops to “test” toll roads just before they open to the public.

    1. mve Avatar

      Insane. Jealous.

  2. P161911 Avatar

    GM’s Milford Proving grounds are pretty extensive. Especially Black Lake, 67 acres of asphalt!

    1. Anthony Evans Avatar
      Anthony Evans

      Black Lake looks like your typical Walmart parking lot.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        It is just a little bit bigger, and doesn’t have light poles or shopping carts.

    2. onrails Avatar

      Milford Road Course is definitely the crown jewel of the proving grounds.

  3. Anthony Evans Avatar
    Anthony Evans

    The old Studebaker test track near South Bend, IN. They planted trees which spelled out the marque name and it’s still visible from the air.
    The Artist Formerly Known as tonyola

    1. mve Avatar

      Thread winner.

  4. Mike England Avatar
    Mike England

    I have two honorable mentions:
    First, according to the local lore, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally a square used by several different manufacturers; when two drivers from two car companies were there at the same time they just felt compelled to race, because, well, duh. And that led to the creation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It could be a true story or it could have been invented by Eddy Rickenbacker; either way it’s a cool story.
    Second; there’s a place close to where I used to live called Meadowdale Raceway. Rumor has it a nearby Chevy dealer did a lot of testing of Corvettes back in the 60s – when you read enough accounts of those cars driving through the sleepy little town to be wrung out on that road course, a picture emerges about GM gathering a little information on these factory racecars. Here is a link to one of several websites with interesting stories about the track. I wish I could drive a car on that track today – even at 40-50 mph – I think it would be a real roller-coaster. And, it’s fun to think this little track had an impact on early Corvettes. http://www.rokemneedlearts.com/carsindepth/wordpressblog/?p=12561

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      I would put Musclecar-era Woodward Avenue into that category.

    2. mve Avatar

      According to the IMS, the track was originally planned to be a 5-mile oval, not the 2.5 it is today. Can you imagine the speeds today?

    1. mve Avatar

      I’ve heard of this Top Gear show. Used to be on BBC, right?

    1. Vavon Avatar

      Flipping cars is always fun…

  5. nanoop Avatar

    owned by the engineering branch of the fast car branch of Volkswagen: Nardo. Fastest in the world, wiki says.

  6. maxxxq Avatar

    Toss up between Fiorano or Weissach. Been to both. Kinda Area 51 for car guys. Never know what you may see.

  7. P161911 Avatar

    A bunch of manufacturers used Daytona Beach up to the 1950s.

  8. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    It’s hard to top Lingotto. An oval may not be that challenging, but on the roof in the middle of a city and featured in a movie is massive cool.

  9. Maymar Avatar

    Initially built in a no-fly zone, and just absolutely massive (with a straightaway of over 8 miles), VW’s proving grounds are pretty neat. Although, not knowing what year it was built (just, during the Cold War), being that concerned about secrecy is odd for a company that mostly built the same car for decades.

  10. mve Avatar

    There’s a track in Mugello, Italy that a little carmaker uses.

  11. Cameron Vanderhorst Avatar
    Cameron Vanderhorst

    Maybe not the coolest, but I recall using Google Earth to check out Honda’s plant in Marysville, Ohio and being shocked to see what looked like a Tsukuba Circuit replica.