When Liberty Media were promoting the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix last year as the “the greatest racing spectacle on the planet”, it rubbed IndyCar up the wrong way.

Not only because the series has long held a trademark in the United States over the phrase “greatest spectacle in racing” regarding the Indy 500, but because they are firmly of the belief that their marquee race is the best in the world.

But there are many other major racing events that could be held up as being among the biggest and best in the world, from the Le Mans 24 Hours to the Daytona 500. So which of these internationally renowned races is truly the best of them all?

As an outlet that focuses on four-wheeled motorsport, we will keep the options limited to races that involve cars. That means, sadly, the Isle of Man TT is not eligible for this list.

Monaco Grand Prix – Formula 1

The ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Formula 1 and perhaps the most famous of all grands prix on the calendar, Monaco is treated as one of the most special races in the world championship.

However, the tight, twisty street circuit feels entirely unsuited to modern Formula 1 and its big, bulky cars – as last weekend’s race showed when all ten starters finished in those same positions. Qualifying for the event is notoriously more critical to determining the winner than the race itself.

Be that as it may, there is genuine thrill in watching drivers push their cars to their limits around such an unforgiving track on Saturday and the event does boast a history spanning back over nearly 100 years – which does make it one of the most heritage-rich events on this list.

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Indianapolis 500 – IndyCar

The single biggest motorsports event of the year in terms of spectators, the Indy 500 is one of the most prestigious and celebrated sporting occasions in the world, full stop.

There is more honour in winning this single event than there is in capturing the IndyCar title. The fastest race on the planet, the Indy 500 sees drivers pulling breathtaking speeds and making overtaking moves that are so frightening they make you want to watch from behind your sofa.

With 108 editions stretching back to 1911, it is also a race that spans almost the entirety of motorsport history itself. IndyCar markets the race as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, but do you agree?

Le Mans 24 Hours – World Endurance Championship

The third and final race in the ‘Triple Crown’ of motorsport and the most famous endurance race in the world, the Le Mans 24 Hours is another one of those sporting events that even people who aren’t racing fans will be aware of – like the Super Bowl, Wimbledon or the Masters.

The fastest endurance race on the planet, Le Mans winners regularly cover over 5,000km in the twice-around-the-clock event, reaching speeds above 200mph virtually every lap. As a multi-class event, hypercar prototypes race alongside LMP2 cars as well as GT3 class machines, meaning navigating traffic effectively is critical for victory.

Although the overall battle for victory has been dominated by Toyota in recent years, this year’s event is looking like one of the most competitive editions in the over 100-year history of Le Mans.

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Daytona 500 – NASCAR Cup

While many sports end their seasons with their most important and prestigious events, NASCAR starts their annual championship with their biggest race.

As a restrictor plate race, drivers run flat out virtually the entire time throughout the 200 laps of the high-banked Daytona speedway. Navigating the draft and avoiding wrecks is the key to victory at Daytona with close finishes virtually guaranteed.

While Talladega offers the same kind of racing as Daytona as the only other superspeedway in the series, Daytona’s history makes it the most prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar – and the biggest cash prize for the winners.

Nurburgring 24 Hours

Perhaps the most famous and notorious road course circuit in the world, the Nurburgring Nordschleife plays host to an annual sportscar race that is perhaps the ultimate test of a driver’s skill and endurance.

Spanning countless classes of cars from GT3 down to Mini Coopers or even an Opel Manta with a fox tail attached to the back, the event sees over 100 entries racing around the 25km course.

As the race that should have still been ongoing right now shows, weather is a serious headache for all drivers as several sections of the track can be completely bone-dry while whole stretches can be soaking wet – or even foggy. That only adds to the intense challenge of the event and makes it one of the most remarkable races to watch.

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Bathurst 1000 – Australian Supercars

Although perhaps not as internationally renowned as Spa-Francorchamps, Monaco or the Nordschleife, Mount Panorama is still one of the most beloved and respected racing circuits in world motorsport.

The annual Bathurst 1000 is the most important round of the Australian Supercars calendar, having attracted drivers from all over the world to participate over the years. As a touring car race, Bathurst produces close, aggressive racing that makes it a thrilling watch.

Although the annual 12 hour race is a longer event at Bathurst, the 1000 is the race that holds the most prestige of any other in Australia as well as being one of the biggest sporting events of the year in a county that adores sport like no other.

Macau Grand Prix

Not every major race involves the top level of drivers. The Macau Grand Prix has long been the highlight of the junior formula calendar.

From Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard and Takuma Sato, many future big names in motorsport have announced themselves as stars of the future at one of the most unforgiving street circuits there is.

Traditionally run with Formula 3 cars, this year will see the event run to Formula Regional specifications for the first time.

Dakar Rally – World Rally Raid Championship

A slightly leftfield suggestion, but one that was prompted by Fernando Alonso – who has experienced three of the biggest races on this list – describing the multi-week Dakar Rally as the “biggest challenge in my sporting career”.

As a Rally-Raid event, the Dakar sees competitors crossing extreme terrain over several daily stages that are often longer than a grand prix distance. There’s often no one route over the stage, like with typical point-to-point rallies, where navigation between waypoints is critical to success.

The nature of the event makes it one of the most dangerous in the world, with regular fatalities, especially with the two-wheeled classes. Carlos Sainz Snr is the current reigning champion of the event, having claimed his fourth victory in the car class in 2024.

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You say

Which race do you hold above all others as the ‘greatest spectacle’ in motorsport? Have your say in this week’s poll.

What race do you feel is the ‘greatest spectacle’ in motorsport?

  • Nurburgring 24 Hours (4%)
  • Monaco Grand Prix (12%)
  • Macau Grand Prix (4%)
  • Le Mans 24 Hours (42%)
  • Indianapolis 500 (31%)
  • Daytona 500 (0%)
  • Dakar Rally (4%)
  • Bathurst 1000 (4%)

Total Voters: 26

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