Gran Turismo: Deep Forest Raceway Found


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A Chaparral-2A sits on pole at one of the few races held at Greenwood Roadway during it’s brief three year life span as an active race track (photo courtesy of Greenwoodroadway.com).

Please find track map and photos below to verify the discovery of Deep Forest Raceway, a supposedly non-existent track in the legendary PS3  Gran Turismo series, next to a corn field in Iowa.

So, expect Gran Turismo Guru and principal architect Kazunori Yamauchi to fess up and move Deep Forest from the mythical “Original Circuits” of Gran Turismo, to the Real World section in the game. Deep Forest Raceway is a disguised version of Greenwood Roadway, an actual (though now defunct) road circuit in south central Iowa, about 45 minutes south of Des Moines.

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As can be seen from the two maps (Greenwood Roadway on top, Deep Forest below) the track layouts are very similar. Not identical, but very similar. Similar enough, that if an investor were to decide to renovate Greenwood Roadway, it would be very easy to create a reasonable duplicate of Deep Forest Raceway from the Gran Turismo Series.

What can’t be seen from the maps is the identical nature of the topography of the two tracks. Driving on both tracks, the rise and fall of the circuit is virtually identical. The two highest points on both are at the end of the back straight (in the tunnels on Deep Forest Raceway) or at the ninety degree bends in the middle section, and the lowest two points are at the start of the back straight and at the hairpin at the end of the main straight.

The original Greenwood pit location is slightly different than the virtual track. But again, in about the right place and even on the right side of the track. The sensation, though, of driving the real track is eerily reminiscent of driving the virtual track simply because the rise and fall of the two layouts is so close to identical.

There being virtually no historical significance to Greenwood Roadway, the real track set in the rolling hills of southern Iowa, there’s no reason  the Gran Turismo Series developers would have felt any qualms in “improving” the track to fit their needs.

The double ninety degree bends in the middle of the track have a nice rhythm that isn’t apparent in the real circuit. Ditto for the fast sweepers at the end of the lap. With no signature corners (EG. Eau Rouge at Spa, White House at Le Mans) to emulate, the Gran Turismo developers were free to improve on a slightly simpler layout. There are corners on the actual circuit that would have been pretty scary taken flat out, especially noting the proximity to the track of the rusting ruins of Armco barriers.

There are no mountains around the Greenwood Roadway in Iowa, and of course no tunnels to race through. The track topography is very similar, but the real topography is markedly different. That said, the real track is located in a beautiful rural setting in the rolling hills that cover most of the state. The asphalt is still intact although nowhere near what one would call a road anymore. More like a paved path to the past of American road racing.

The two tracks are very similar in layout and design, but by no means identical. First, the real circuit is a full three miles in length, while it’s scaled down virtual double-ganger measures only 2,24 miles in length: a three-quarter scale model.

The real track was developed in the 1960’s by a consortium of well to do Des Moines businessmen/racers/land speculators who realized that Lake Red Rock was being built nearby and expected the explosive growth of racing in the mid-sixties to continue unabated. Unfortunately, the track fell on hard times quickly and in its prime only hosted a handful of races.

It continued on, being used for local club events into at least the 1970’s with some photos online of an Iowa Mustang club that gained access in this century, although this would have been purely for historical purposes and maybe a blast down the mostly intact main straight

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This is the view heading down the main straight into the hairpin. On the left of the photo you can see the track snaking back uphill.

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Same view in Gran Turismo.5.

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This is the view from approximately half way down the back straight looking at the sweeping left-hander as the track falls away back downhill.

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View much closer to the sweeper at the end of the straight in Gran Turismo 5.

There might be a move afoot to resuscitate the old track as a type of motorsport country club, similar to other tracks that have proved popular around the country. If revived the track would add to an impressive compilation of motorsport facilities in south central Iowa, including: the Iowa Speedway in Newton, the famed dirt track at Knoxville and the almost equally famous dragstrip at Eddyville. All of these facilities, with the inclusion of Greenwood Roadway would be within a 30 mile radius centered approximately on Lake Red Rock just outside Knoxville.

If the plan does come to fruition, fans of Sony’s Gran Turismo racing simulator could find that a circuit that only exists on the PS3 is brought to life, reviving a lost gem in the Iowa countryside. Potential investors in any scheme to revive the track should seriously study the potential benefits of creating a replica of a track that is well known to the fans of the Gran Turismo series, which in five iterations has sold over 70 million copies worldwide. It might seem far fetched to expect Japanese tourists to travel to Iowa for a track day made famous on Japan’s most famous console racing title.It’s been said before when fantasy meets reality in Iowa: if you build it, they will come.

Special thanks to the current owners of the property who most graciously allowed me access to photograph and videotape at the track. And to greenwoodraodway.com, for the usage of historical photos.

 

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