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Saudi Arabia wants to build real-life Mario Kart Rainbow Road circuit for Formula 1

One step closer to real-life Mario Kart
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Aside from its approachable gameplay, one of the charms of Mario Kart is the ability to explore some truly unique racing tracks that wouldn’t be remotely possible to traverse in real life. Most dreaded – and iconic – of these are the various versions of Rainbow Road, which even netted itself an appearance in the Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Well, as it turns out Rainbow Road isn’t as far away from reality as we believed it to be, because Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans for a new racing circuit in Qiddiya City, a massive entertainment metropolis it's currently building, that comes as close as it gets to the Mario Kart track.

Though most of the track is very much on the ground, veteran designer Herman Tilke and former F1 driver Alexander Wurz, who are being credited with the design for the circuit, have planned a truly unique first corner, which is rising 70 meters into the air, throning over a concert space just below. Parallel to this elevated section, a roller coaster from a nearby theme park will be running.

Image of the planned F1 circuit in Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia, which looks like Rainbow Road from Mario Kart.

We're probably not going to get closer to real-life Rainbow Road than this.

Another image from the animated simulation of what the track is supposed to look like shows a glass-floored swimming pool hanging above a part of the circuit.

If that doesn’t sound like stuff you’d only see in Mario Kart otherwise, then I don’t know what race competitions you’ve been watching.

Saudi Arabia is aiming for this circuit to be awarded the highest FIA grading, which would make it eligible to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s envisioned that the track in Qiddiya will replace Saudi Arabia’s current Grand Prix location, the street race in Jeddah – the fourth iteration of which will take place this week.

Naturally, these are only plans for now. But thanks to the power of infinite money, Saudi Arabia is probably in the best position to build something like this. 

Looking at the design, though, I just can’t see how that Rainbow Road section will ever be approved by the FIA – falling down in Mario Kart is fine, because friendly cloud creatures bring you back up to the track. A car flying off that 70m ramp in real life (not unlikely, since this is the first corner after the start), taking a nearby roller coaster track down with it? No one will want to see that outside of an action movie.