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Monday, November 22, 2010

Grand Valley Speedway

John Marine | 5:15 PM | | | | | | | |
(UPDATED: April 11, 2012)

Grand Valley Speedway is the signature race track of the Gran Turismo series. Why so? It is a Grand Prix course unique to Gran Turismo as it has its own appeal different from any other racing game. It is home to the Grand Valley 300km endurance race. The Grand Valley 300km is the signature endurance of Gran Turismo. So this blog post is a look at Grand Valley over the years even as Gran Turismo 5 is coming along.

--- Grand Valley at a Glance ---

Grand Valley Speedway and Grand Valley Speedway East
^ Grand Valley. TOP: Grand Valley. BOTTOM: Grand Valley (East Configuration). Pictures are from Gran Turismo 2's Arcade Mode disc.

In Gran Turismos 1 and 2, we were all introduced to the classic circuit in its lovely form. The full course is over three miles of road racing goodness. Among the exterior features of Grand Valley are the city buildings into the first hairpin, the three tunnels, the bridge on the backstretch, and more. This track was designed both as a beautiful Grand Prix course as well as a punishing race track.

On a club level, the Grand Valley East track takes away the second hairpin area and the other two tunnels. This track still remains intense. Grand Valley Speedway's East track has shown up in every major Gran Turismo except Gran Turismo 3.

The only real change over the different versions of GT has been a re-profiling of the tight chicane out of the final tunnel in GT4. Even on GTPlanet, I noted that the chicane should be a bit more open and not as tight. I think this change made racing the chicane more fun and not as constricting.

--- Grand Valley Speedway History ---

Gran Turismo 1 and Gran Turismo 2 had mostly unchanged versions (except for maybe the signs posted around the track). This is where we saw all the different nuances that made this track so iconic in Gran Turismo lore. It provided one of the loveliest views of any Gran Turismo track when you enter the final tunnel after crossing the bridge. Seeing the view going through the final tunnel gives you a spectacular view. The various lush greens that make up this course was lovely even for PlayStation 1 standards.

The track would see a makeover in Gran Turismo 3. For the first time, this track could be raced in evening conditions if you race the track in the reverse direction. Many of the features from the GT1 and GT2 versions were vastly changed. Instead of a view of downtown buildings in GT1 and GT2, a big rotating billboard made up the area heading into the first hairpin. The grandstands got a makeover as well, feeling more like a Formula 1-style race track. With the PS2's power, much more majestic mountains and hills surrounded this track. The tire walls and tunnels were also given a lovely makeover. My biggest disappointment with GT3's version of Grand Valley was how restricted the tunnel view was in the final tunnel. GT3's version looks more like a proper racing facility than some purely fantasy course. Other than that, GT3's version was a lovely makeover.

The loveliest version of Grand Valley was in Gran Turismo 4. I noted on GTPlanet about what modifications to courses you want to see made happen. Some of my suggestions included offering elements from the very first versions of Grand Valley with the downtown buildings. Well, PD took it further. You can see some of the city buildings heading into Turn 1. More lush greenery came about in GT4's version. Some have complained about how highly saturated the colors are in GT3, so less saturated colors were used in a variety of courses. Also, the course was made more beautiful with more watery areas. You could see this as you're racing the full course where the East section is blocked off. The most beautiful touches can be seen on the bridge and into the final tunnel. You have to see replay views to appreciate the full beauty of Grand Valley in GT4. You see what looks like flower petals on the water from replay views. The bridge itself looks wonderful as well. Gran Turismo 4 outdid itself with the tunnel view in the final tunnel. You see what looks like a little village from outside the tunnel. It is the most spectacular touch to this track in the game's history. While I don't race Grand Valley East, its touches look as spectacular as the full course, though you obviously don't experience the full course and all of its details. This track is the same in Tourist Trophy and Gran Turismo 4, since they use the same engine.

From what I have seen with a Gran Turismo 5 video at Grand Valley, it seems like it is the same version as seen in GT4. Perhaps GT5's version is like GT4's, but with minor changes. Don't mess with success, I guess.

Needless to say, Grand Valley Speedway is the signature race track of Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo racing. While it may be a fictional track, it boasts an imposing and challenging character worthy of a Formula One Grand Prix. It makes for great racing whether for 2 laps with economy cars or 60 laps in the fastest race cars.

--- Grand Valley Speedway in Videos ---

Have a look at the evolution of Grand Valley in videos. These videos are provided for educational purposes.

Gran Turismo 1 and Gran Turismo 2 (both are essentially the same); this is a GT1 video:

Gran Turismo 3:

Gran Turismo 4:

There you are. A look at Grand Valley by me! I hope to make many more blog posts regarding various tracks through the history of Gran Turismo. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to keep tabs on my latest posts!

Thank you for reading!

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