Ever since cars were invented, people have been thinking of new and exciting ways to drive them. Whether was building faster cars, organizing races from one town to the next, or just paving roads through awe-inspiring landscapes, people were only limited by their imaginations and the tenuous laws of physics. Over the years, some driving experiences have truly stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The Transfagarasan Highway: Romania
Several switchbacks of the Transfagarasan Highway — Photo courtesy of Cristian Bortes
Officially known as the Romanian DN7C, the Transfagarasan Highway was built during the 1970s under orders from the Soviet Union, so troops could more quickly traverse the mountains of central Romania. The road has since been dubbed by many as the world's most perfect road, with its long kinked straights juxtaposed with tight corners, all of which snake down a treeless mountain valley.
The Autobahn: Germany
Autobahn in Germany — Photo courtesy of Darkone
The Autobahn is well known throughout the world as the fastest public road on earth due to having no posted speed limit. The lore and mystique that surrounds the Autobahn make it seem as though it's just one stretch of road, when in reality it's a large network of highways similar to the US Interstate system. There are speed limits on certain sections of the road, but the vast majority of the system is a wide open free-for-all of speed.
The NASCAR Racing Experience
NASCAR stock cars lined up at the NASCAR Racing Experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway — Photo courtesy of D. J. Henson
Let's take a step back from public roads for a bit and talk about closed-circuit options. NASCAR stock cars are some of the most powerful cars ever developed short of drag racers. For a fee, you can strap into one of these 800-horsepower beasts and drive around a real NASCAR track, reaching speeds of up to 155 mph with no aids, and nothing holding you back. (Just make sure you know how to drive a stick shift!) NASCAR Racing Experience locations are all over the US, including in Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Charlotte, and Atlanta.
Exotics Racing School: Las Vegas, Nevada
Race a Farari in Las Vegas — Photo courtesy of Beau B
Names like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche immediately bring about images of speed and glamour - many so outlandish they don't seem possible in real life. Luckily, Exotics Racing, near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, offers up the dream, with affordable rental fees for several laps around the track in the luxury car of your choice. In comparison to the actual costs of owning one of these vehicles, this is one heck of a steal.
The Atlas Mountains: Morocco
One of many of the incredible roads twisting through the Atlas Mountains — Photo courtesy of Anthony Stanley
The Moroccan highways traversing north Africa's Atlas Mountains are perhaps some of the most demanding roads in the world. They were featured in commercials for the Cadillac CTS, to show off the car's mechanical prowess, and there's really no better road upon which to prove it. From above, the highway looks like a black ribbon that's been placed on top of the mountains in a zigzag pattern, and views from the highway are breathtaking.
The Great Ocean Road: Australia
Listed as the world's largest war memorial, The Great Ocean Road was built by Australian soldiers returning from World War I as a tribute to their fallen comrades. The road follows a 150-mile stretch of Australia's rocky southern coastline, and shows off some of the most beautiful ocean views of the land down under.
The Seward Highway: Alaska
Part of the Seward Highway traveling between the Kenai Mountains — Photo courtesy of Kate Mereand
If you're looking to get away from it all and having nothing around but you, the road, and some gorgeous scenery, America's last frontier hosts the nation's most beautiful road. The Seward highway spans 125 miles between the town of Seward and the big city of Anchorage. Along the road there are no billboards and next to no signs of civilization, so make sure you have a full tank of gas when you set out. It's the perfect place to lose yourself in the fabulous winter scenery for an hour or two.
BMW Performance Driving School: Greenville, South Carolina
BMW F 800 GT — Photo courtesy of BMW Group
BMW bills itself as "The Ultimate Driving Machine" and the BMW Performance Driving School aims to show you why. The school is headquartered just north of Greenville, SC, but you can also take courses at Virginia International Raceway or at Road Atlanta. Choose from any number of 'Beamer' performance vehicles, from the legendary M series sedans to their rugged motorcycles, and test your mettle on the BMW factory testing facility.
Skip Barber Racing School
Cars lined up to be driven as part of the Skip Barber Young Leaders Society — Photo courtesy of Skip Barber Racing School
Spanning the entirety of performance vehicles, Skip Barber Racing School has many locations at famous road courses across the United States from Miami to just outside San Francisco. Whether you want to race street cars, performance sportsters, or real open wheel race cars, Skip Barber has a program for you. They specialize in training and grooming potential Formula One and IndyCar stars, so you know you're practicing with the best of the best.
The Streets of Monaco
Monaco from above — Photo courtesy of Monaco Press Centre Photos
Amid the casinos and luxurious hotels of the tiny principality of Monaco are some of the most beautiful winding roads of Europe. Every year, on the last full week of May, a section of the roads are closed off and a temporary street circuit is made for the annual Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco. Several other events, including drive-alongs, are hosted on the circuit during the days leading up to the big race. But if you prefer, you can always visit the little kingdom during the off months and cruise through the streets at your own pace.