High Plains Raceway may not come to mind as one of the great driving tracks in North America, but it should. This little gem hidden on the high plains of central Colorado, about an hour east of Denver on Highway 36, has nearly everything you could want in a racetrack.

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Technical twists blend into elevation changes and fast, sweeping turns along 2.55 miles on the full course, which includes a 2,838-foot back straight. With nary a tree in sight and barrier walls placed far from the racing surface, High Plains Raceway also provides a comforting element of safety.

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The track’s designer, Bill Howard and his design firm Plan West, had a keen eye for driving fun— and a sense of humor. Turns with names like “High Plains Drifter,” “To Hell on a Bobsled,” “Ladder to Heaven,” and “Prairie Corkscrew” provide evidence of that.

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High Plains Raceway opened for the 2009 racing season after several local racing clubs combined efforts to build the track when other nearby tracks had been shuttered. Second Creek Raceway, Pikes Peak International Raceway and Mountain View Raceway all had recently closed. Coloradoans need a place to race!

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The group bought the property in 2006, and just one year and eight months after finding the site, the track had been designed and all the regulatory permits were in place to break ground. After raising money to get the project under way, construction began in August 2008. Construction was complete before the harsh Colorado winter set in, and come springtime, the asphalt had cured. It was time to go racing.

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The nearby town of Byers, Colo., has the three things you need most for a successful race weekend: a hotel, a general store and a liquor store. Yet Byers is far enough away that you can make as much noise as you want at High Plains Raceway.

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If you live anywhere remotely close to central Colorado, you owe it to yourself to tow your racecar to High Plains Raceway. Built by racers for racers, it’s the best road course in the Rocky Mountain Region. If you can find a way to race there, do it. The buffalo don’t seem to mind the noise at all. https://youtu.be/EiCFX4Tbm00

2013 Spec Z Champion David Dirks was putting his 13-year-old son through the HPDE program at High Plains in preparation for racing in the Teen Mazda Challenge.
2013 Spec Z Champion David Dirks was putting his 13-year-old son through the HPDE program at High Plains in preparation for racing in the Teen Mazda Challenge.
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 As with any NASA event, there was a great diversity of cars and people sharing cars for racing and running in HPDE.
As with any NASA event, there was a great diversity of cars and people sharing cars for racing and running in HPDE.
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Turn 7, also known as “High Plains Drifter” is a fast uphill corner that leads to a blind crest and into Turn 8, one of the tightest on the track. It’s huge fun.
Turn 7, also known as “High Plains Drifter” is a fast uphill corner that leads to a blind crest and into Turn 8, one of the tightest on the track. It’s huge fun.
The local NASCAR oval track racers supply plenty of leftover chassis to racers in the Rocky Mountain Region. It’s still mind-boggling how inexpensive these cars can be.
The local NASCAR oval track racers supply plenty of leftover chassis to racers in the Rocky Mountain Region. It’s still mind-boggling how inexpensive these cars can be.
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After the day’s racing had concluded on Saturday, a quick and heavy rain blew in from the Rocky Mountains and forced everyone at the Saturday night barbecue under the pavilion at High Plains Raceway. After the rains had passed, the puddles proved irresistible.
After the day’s racing had concluded on Saturday, a quick and heavy rain blew in from the Rocky Mountains and forced everyone at the Saturday night barbecue under the pavilion at High Plains Raceway. After the rains had passed, the puddles proved irresistible.
Under the direction of series leader Dustin Mozader, Camaro-Mustang Challenge is undergoing something of a renaissance in the Rocky Mountain Region. The racing is great fun to watch.
Under the direction of series leader Dustin Mozader, Camaro-Mustang Challenge is undergoing something of a renaissance in the Rocky Mountain Region. The racing is great fun to watch.
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The Rocky Mountain Region is home to High Plains Raceway and some interesting and unusual racecars. Here’s a look at some of the cars we captured on film during Memorial Day weekend.

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Image courtesy of Brett Becker