Since the release of the GPLEA's track editing tools, there has been an explosion of new tracks available for GPL. My favorites include Castle Coombe, a new version of Snetterton from the GPLEA known as Snetterton67, and the full La Sarthe circuit used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Sarthe circuit is magnificent; it's fantastic to be able to drive it in GPL.
Castle Coombe and Snetterton67 are perhaps the most realistic circuits ever built for GPL, with superb graphics and, more importantly, amazingly realistically modeled track surfaces, with bumps that are far more realistic than those in most other tracks, including Papy's.
Other notable circuits include (in no particular order):
- Lime Rock*
- Saint Jovite* (aka Mont Tremblant)
- Virginia International Raceway
- Oulton Park (the favorite circuit of both Jim Clark and Stirling Moss)
- Brands Hatch (the Indy circuit)
- Indianapolis (the new GP circuit)
- Daytona (the oval and the oval-plus-road course used in the Rolex 24 hour race)
- Riverside (the long circuit used for the US Grand Prix in 1960,)
- Croft (several versions)
- Sachsenring (the old circuit through the houses)
- Monza (with both the banking and the road course)
Monza (banking only)
- Monza (the modern F1 track with chicanes)
- Willow Springs
- East London
- Malaysia (the modern F1 track)
- Zolder (known as Wild South in GPL)
*I helped beta test these tracks.
- I am still not a great fan of fantasy tracks but there are some I like such as Liege, Thornham (made of actual roads in rural England), Vil and Road67.
Also, numerous graphics enhancements have been released, including a magnificent fall foliage package for GPL's original Watkins Glen, and a beautiful night conversion for the Sarthe circuit, both by Kevin L.
For the latest in GPL new car graphics, new tracks and track graphic upgrades, and other add-ons, see Magnus Torme's superb GPL Track Database, Stefan Magnusson's terrific GPL++ The Addons, Race Sim Central, the GPLEA (also here), and the Ultimate GPL Links Page.
You can download these tracks for free from the GPLEA site. Go to the GPL section and click on Race Circuits.
Le Mans Bugatti Circuit
12/31/00 - The Le Mans Bugatti circuit is the one track used for a Grand Prix in 1967 that was not included in GPL. Papyrus chose to do the daunting Rouen instead because it was more popular with the drivers at the time.
Roland Ehnström and Greger Huttu have done a fantastic job on this circuit. It looks great and is quite difficult to go quickly here. This circuit may not have been a favorite in 1967, but it's great for online racing. It also has some sections which are very challenging in a GP car. Hurling a V-12 Ferrari over the hump in the Dunlop curve beneath the bridge makes me lust for a full version of this circuit!
Greger and Roland have done a great job here balancing the conflict between good looks and good performance. Unlike some add-on tracks which have somewhat higher than normal CPU requirements, this circuit gets just about as good frame rate on my computer as the original Papyrus tracks - and yet the circuit doesn't lack visual detail.
For people with very fast computers, a higher-resolution sky and horizon is also available.
Get the Bugatti circuit here or at the GPLEA.
Crystal Palace was built in a park in south London. After the architectural marvel known as Crystal Palace burned down in 1936, the park needed new attractions to keep the public coming, and someone had the idea to hold motor races in the park.
Although no Grands Prix were run at Crystal Palace, Formula 2 and club races were a frequent occurence there throughout the 60's. Many of the top F1 drivers competed there in F2 cars, saloons, or sports cars.
Crystal Palace is a short track, not much more than a mile, but it's in a beautiful setting and has a terrific rhythm. It's extremely challenging to get exactly right, but when you do, the feeling is fantastic.
The GPLEA has done a superb job on this track. The scenery is gorgeous, and the GPLEA has beautifully captured the track's undulating nature and unique mix of fast sweepers and snaking esses.
Like Solitude, Crystal Palace was recently featured in MotorSport (November 2000), complete with photos, track map, and history. The GPLEA version comes almost eerily close to reproducing this historic track.
This is a magnificent circuit created out of real roads. It was recently featured in Motor Sport, with period photos and photos of some of the same corners today. It hasn't been used as a race track in almost 30 years, but the same roads are still there, and you can drive almost the entire circuit.
Artist Martijn 'Taffer' Keizer has done a terrific job on this circuit. Sort of a cross between Spa and the Nurburgring, Solitude thunders through the forest at high speed, with several leaps that will get your car airborne for a scary amount of time, and long, sweeping, high speed curves. There are just enough slow sections to test your braking ability, and plenty of similar-looking turns to challenge your memory.
This is a challenging place. Only the greatest Grand Prix drivers won here - Dan Gurney among them - and after you've driven here, you'll know why.
Update, 2/8/01: there is now a version 1.1 of Goodwood. This new version looks even better than the original one, and totally addresses the frame rate concerns that affected the original. The result is possibly the best-implemented non-Papyrus track for GPL yet. It's absolutely gorgeous and a total blast to drive. It's well worth the download!
The quintessential British club racing circuit, Goodwood held several non-championship Grands Prix before it fell into disuse in the late 60's as it became too dangerous for the speeds of the latest cars. Stirling Moss had his career-ending crash here, with his car ending up crushed against the banking at St. Mary's, and Bruce Mclaren had his fatal crash in his Can-Am car in 1970.
The GPLEA has done a fantastic job on this classic circuit. There is so much detail that it takes some extra CPU power to run a big field here, but if you can do it, it's worth it. The circuit is gorgeous, and very challenging.
Like Silverstone and Snetterton, Goodwood is out around the perimeter of a World War II airfield. It's nearly flat, but subtle elevation changes make some of the most critical corners into blind ones, and add challenge everywhere.
Recently the owner of the circuit, Lord March, has revived Goodwood, and it has been the site of several superb vintage car meets and hillclimbs in recent years. This wonderful circuit is a fantastic addition to the growing portfolio of add-on tracks for GPL.
Thank you, GPLEA!
The GPLEA first new track was Snetterton. This is an excellent track, very different from the other tracks currently available for GPL, with very nice graphics. It seems like a simple circuit when you look at the map, but going quickly there is very challenging.
If the circuit is modeled accurately, it must have been very dangerous in real life. There are at least two places where an out of control car would be lethal, including a bridge with unprotected abutments which spans a pair of corners with a very fast approach, and a marshall's stand made of cinder blocks at the outside of the exit of a very fast kink. This track really makes me respect the drivers who drove there in real cars!
The AI is not yet complete, and the authors admit they haven't been able to get the groove to go where they'd like, but otherwise I can see very little to criticise about this track's appearance and configuration. It's a worthy addition to the growing collection of circuits for GPL.
Snetterton installation is a bit tricky. Make sure you read the entire installation instructions. Download both track zips and also the updated track.ini so you'll get proper grid positioning; if you don't use the updated track.ini, the front rows of the grid won't be able to see the flagman.
You'll need to update both of your seasons ini files too. Make sure you get both brackets around the [Event##]!
Bill Tillman has nice maps and program covers for Snetterton at his Turn 1 site.
Dave Noonan was the first to release a new track for GPL (Dubai followed by Brands Hatch), and the GPLEA soon followed with Snetterton. Dave and the GPLEA developed their track editing tools more or less independently from each other.
Now other groups are releasing tracks, using the tools developed by the GPLEA. Until now tools have been available to a limited number of track developers, but GPL says they will soon be released to the general public.
I'll list new "fourth party" tracks in this section as they emerge.
2/8/01 - Martin Granberg, Jonas Matton and Fredrik Nornemark have released their version of Anderstorp. The Swedish Grand Prix was run here in the 70's - and the Tyrell 6-wheeler's only win came here.
The authors have done a beautiful job. This track is unique in being very smooth and having long, banked corners with very clean transitions, giving the opportunity to do the kind of uninterrupted powerslides that we've never had before.
Anderstorp is the opposite of Bremgarten in several ways; an airport circuit, it seems relatively bland, a precursor of the sterile circuits used in modern F1. But its width and the configurations of its corners make it a great place for racing, with several excellent passing opportunities.
The art work is gorgeous, a delight to the eye, and they've even put my beloved RANS S-10 Sakota there, in among the other airplanes tied down at the end of the runway.
Great work, guys! Thank you!
2/8/01 - The Sim Racing Club Bern recently released their version of Bremgarten. Their effort was meticulous; they visited the track, which still exists as public roads in Switzerland, and took photos and (I believe) videos. The result is a beautiful, convincing rendition of a magnficent circuit.
Bremgarten was a prewar circuit run on actual roads, like Solitude. It's narrow and very fast. In real life, in prewar Mercedes and such, it must have been terrifying.
In GPL, Bremgarten is compelling, intoxicating, addicting. The narrowness of it and the lack of straight braking areas into slow corners makes it difficult to pass, but that's the only downside. Bremgarten is not terribly complex, and is not difficult to learn despite its length, but it is so fast and has such a captivating rhythm that once you've got the layout down, you'll find yourself going faster, and faster, and faster ...
There are four versions available, ranging from fairly minimal detail to so detailed, with so many trees in that forest, that almost nobody has a machine that will run it at high resolution and get 36 frames per second. I opted for the minimal version to get max frame rate, but as our computers get faster, we'll be able to use the more detailed version.
This team has done spectacular work. They have meticulously documented the track configuration on their Web site, with maps, an aerial photo, and a map of their rendition of the track.
Other tracks which I haven't tried include Avus (available at The Back Stretch), the Pants Ring (the GPLEA), assorted fantasy tracks such as Sicily, Seaside, Desert Winds (from Coast to Coast), a "dirt" version of Milwaukee, and flattened versions of existing tracks like Flatstead and Dubai.
See Legends Central's GPL Track List for details.
You can download Dave's tracks for free from The Pits. Go to the GPL section and click on Dave's World.
Road Atlanta is one of the great American circuits. Unfortunately, it has not been available for many good racing games - until now.
Dave has drawn the original configuration, before Don Panoz put in the chicane at the end of the back straight. Dave's version has drawn criticism from some people who have driven the real Road Atlanta, because he put in curbs, which are present today but were not there in the old days, and also because some sections of Dave's track don't accurately reproduce the corner radii, bank angles, and elevation changes of the real track.
Nevertheless, this is a terrific circuit to drive in GPL, fast, exciting, and challenging. It's one of the more popular tracks on VROC. It's worth the download, for sure.
So began an email from one of the readers of this site. He was ecstatic that this fantastic, historic circuit is now available for GPL, and so am I!
Dave has reproduced the original configuration, unmarred by chicanes. Now we can experience the full excitement of going flat out through Tamburello (if you can!), through the kink before Tosa, and up and over the hill from Acqua Minerale.
This is a track for the ages. Perhaps more than any other track, driving Imola in GPL after driving the modern version in F1 2000 or GP3 shows what we have lost in the modern era, with the "dumbing down" of the circuits to accomodate the colossal cornering speeds of current ground effects cars. Will the sanctioning bodies ever figure out how to return the cars to performance characteristics that permit great circuits like this, instead of the modern chicane-blighted caricatures?
Great stuff! Thank you, Dave!
David Noonan has released his magnificent Österreichring for GPL. A favorite of the drivers, this majestic circuit is one of the greatest circuits ever used in Grand Prix racing. David has modeled the original version, with its fast sweeping turns, breathtaking swoops and climbs, and its spectacular scenery.
David has put in an enormous amount of work on this track, and it really, really shows. His rendition of this wonderful circuit is a technical tour de force and a stunning work of art.
David Noonan's Österreichring is a spectacular achievement. It is gorgeous, exciting, challenging, and a great place for racing. Everyone in the GPL community is deeply indebted to him.
David has also published a terrific Brands Hatch. This wonderful circuit was used for Grands Prix for many years, and Dan Gurney's Eagle won the Race of Champions held there in 1967. David has done a superb job of recreating this circuit, with its roller-coaster ride, bumps, and its wooded atmosphere.
David's first original curcuit was a flat circuit called Dubai. I'm not fond of this track, although some people really like it.
Arguably the most significant event in GPL history since the release of the GPL 1.2 patch fall in the fall of 1999 is the release of David Noonan's GPL Track Converter.
Under development for over a year, and crafted with loving care and attention to detail, David's converter is an incredible achievement. I worked with David throughout most of the development period, and I have some idea of the sweat and tears that went into this fantastic product. David's ingenuity and commitment to quality are monumental.
Also noteworthy are the efforts of David's small but very dedicated team of beta testers, who tested new versions of the converter - and numerous tracks - many times, especially throughout the final development during the last few days. Bravo, guys!
The converter converts 21 tracks from other Papyrus sims to GPL. Here are some of the exciting tracks now available for GPL:
- NASCAR 2/
- NASCAR 3
- Elkhart Lake
- Laguna Seca
- Long Beach
- Sears Point
- Heartland Park
- Sears Point 98
See David Noonan's official GPL Converter Track Page for a full list of tracks converted by the GPL Converter.
See Magnus Thome's superb GPL Track Overview for a chart of all tracks available for GPL. This chart also shows which Papyrus tracks are not converted by any of Dave's three available converters, including the Demo Converter and the Oval Converter (available at The Pits).
If you don't already have them, I recommend that you purchase CART Racing, NASCAR 1999 (which contains the NROS version of N2, with the original Sears Point and Pocono), NASCAR 3, and NASCAR Legends.
If you need to buy CART, go here. As of March 2000, the original Rendition Ready version of CART is still available from Sierra via their Web site.
All of the NASCAR sims are also available from the Sierra Web site. The earlier versions are very inexpensive now, and even the latest versions are well worth the money considering the quality of the circuits they add to GPL.
Indianapolis and Riverside alone are worth the cost of the latest NASCAR sims. Riverside is one of the crown jewels of this collection, a beautiful, seductive, challenging road course of the first order. Indianapolis is unique and wonderful, as glorious a circuit as can be imagined, a fantastic experience in GPL.
Heartland Park is delightful, one of my favorites. Gateway is a great track, unique and very challenging. Milwaukee is the perfect short oval: subtly banked, smooth, exquisitely proportioned, a joy to drive. Ontario is a rough, demanding, brute of a circuit, the perfect counterpoint to the refined Indianapolis.
Sears Point, Laguna Seca, and Elkhart Lake are among the great road courses of the world, and the Papyrus versions, though they are several years old, are challenging, exciting, and surprisingly accurate. And there is nothing like the madness of Detroit or the graceful precision required between the walls of Long Beach, Vancouver, and Toronto.
Get the converter now. I promise you'll be glad you did!
By the way, if you're still not convinced, download the new version of the Demo Track Converter from The Pits, and convert Watkins Glen from NASCAR 3. I think you'll be impressed.
Bill Tillman has beautiful maps and program covers for many of the converted tracks at his Turn 1 site. Bruce Kennewell has also published program covers for some of the converted tracks here.
David Noonan has published two free converters which convert tracks from the Papyrus CART (aka IndyCar Racing 2) and NASCAR simulations so they can be used in GPL. There is a Demo Converter which converts Watkins Glen and several ovals, and an Oval Converter which converts a number of the NASCAR 3 ovals to GPL.
The Demo Converter includes working AI cars. The Oval Converter's ovals are best enjoyed in multiplayer races because GPL's AI won't handle the steep banking of the high speed ovals.
You can download the Oval and Demo Converters for free from The Pits. Go to the GPL section.
As noted above, the GPL Track Converter converts most of the circuits from Papyrus CART Racing or IndyCar Racing 2 into GPL.
The original DOS and Windows versions of CART Racing and IndyCar Racing 2 were great sims in their day, but the tracks appear rather plain by today's standards, especially in comparison with the other tracks available for GPL. Fortunately, Papyrus upgraded five of the original tracks with enhaced graphics for the Rendition Ready versions of ICR2.
After the Rendition Ready ICR2 was released, I participated in an effort by The Sim Project to enhance the remaining ten tracks. The resulting 3D Kits are still available at The Sim Project, and can be used to enhance any Rendition Ready version of CART or ICR2 prior to conversion into GPL. The resulting conversions are much more visually exciting than the unenhanced original tracks.
However, the Rendition Ready version of CART is no longer available. The version currently being sold has the Rendition Ready logo but is not actually Renditioni Ready.
In anticipation of renewed interest in CART/ICR2 for conversion to GPL, I've reworked the original 3D kits and developed new versions which can be applied to DOS and Windows versions of ICR2 or CART, including the All American Sports version of CART currently available from Sierra. The new kits plus the GPL Track Converter allow owners of any version of CART or ICR2 to have visually exciting versions of most of the CART tracks in GPL.
See CART/ICR2 3D Kits for information about downloading and installing the 3D Kits. If you're not sure if your version of CART or ICR2 is Rendition Ready, see CART Racing Versions.
If you need to buy CART, go here.
I got my money's worth in 2 days racing the current Watkins Glen and Indy ;-)
- Don Jennings
Ferrari 312, Laguna Seca, .... and a crisp lager! What a fine combination for a Friday evening! The feeling of my stomach dropping away as I come over the hill right before the corkscrew is amazing. That hill without wings is a HOOT!
- Kurt Steinbock
Riverside is a very tough track; the Esses will scare you, the two first gear corners will confuse you, and then the long back stretch will give you a few seconds to think about how brave you want to be going into the last turn.
The AI at Riverside is very good. They do seem to be a little weak in turn nine, which is the banked last turn, but they are champs on the rest of the course, and know when to pass and when to wait.
Outstanding conversion of this great track!!
- Marc Game
The wonderful historical tracks of Snett, O-Ring and Brands now with all the many Papy tracks have made GPL just an amazing piece of entertainment.
Thanks, Dave, Allison and the GPLEA artists and engineers.
- Jeff Haas
GPL Track Reverse
John Black has written a utility that will create reversed versions of GPL tracks, so you can drive them backwards and still get lap times, correct flag behavior, etc. It's available editors page of Scott Przybylski's The Back Stretch site.
Bart Westra has released a revised version of his grids for online racing. The new version includes grids for Talladega and the Österreichring. Download the grids and check out Bart's excellent GPL Garage. I've also made available a map of the Osterreichring.
Edwin Solheim has posted GPL track maps and program covers for the Österreichring at The Paddock. These can be placed in GPL to replace the default covers and maps.
Bill Tillman also has maps and program covers for Brands Hatch and the Österreichring at his Turn 1 site.
Jay Beckwith's Team Friendship site has enhanced GPL skies and other track enhancements, including a nighttime version of Silverstone, and enhancments for the CART conversion tracks.
Trying to figure out where to get a track, or wondering what's in the pipeline for the future? See Magnus Torme's superb GPL Track Database, Stefan Magnusson's terrific GPL++ The Addons, Race Sim Central, the GPLEA (also here), and the Ultimate GPL Links Page.
Another list, the GPL Track Overview by Magnus Thome, has a comprehensive summary of tracks available from conversion from all of the previous Papyrus NASCAR and CART sims. The official link at GPL Track Overview appears to be defunct, but the version I have here, from late 1999, seems to be fairly complete.