Jonathan Gitlin

Over in Germany, you'll find what may well be the scariest race track of all time. The Nürburgring Nordschleife is a 12.9-mile (20.8km) ribbon of tarmac wrapped around the Eifel Mountains that challenges a car like nowhere else on earth. Originally built as public works project in the 1920s, it got too fast for Formula 1 in the 1970s, then too fast for sports prototypes in the 1980s.

Despite relatively few changes over the decades, the Nürburgring still plays host to professional races today, as always operating as a test track and even a limited-access toll road when not being used for competition. For a while, the track's fearsome reputation faded from the public consciousness. But its inclusion in several popular video game franchises has done much to reverse that.

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