Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa

Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa: No Walk In The Park

Assetto Corsa

Once a popular track in the south of London, it has mostly been forgotten. Now, a new mod version of Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa by RaceDepartment member zwiss brings back the memories of old battles.

Racing fans may have stumbled upon the name of the venue again in recent years. Anyone who watched 2013’s Rush about rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt will probably remember the opening scene – it is set at Crystal Palace. The scene kicks off the movie with an F3 race that shows the rather flamboyant personality of Hunt’s both behind the wheel and outside of the car.

Image credit: Harald Gallinnis on Wikimedia Commons und the CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

Hunt and Lauda clash in that race, with the former still going on to win. This is not quite historically accurate, as it was Dave Morgan rather than Lauda who was involved in the incident. To throw in more trivia about the movie, the scene was not shot at Crystal Palace, but rather at Cadwell Park. Anyway, back to the original circuit.

Classic F3 racing at Crystal Palace – including the Hunt/Morgan collision starting at about 13:40.

F3, F2 & Non-Championship F1

Initially hosting races from 1927 until 1939, the Crystal Palace circuit really rose to fame after World War II. Once racing picked up again in 1953, the 2.24-kilometer track soon hosted Formula 3, Formula 2 and even non-championship F1 races. Sports cars also took to the parklands.

Speaking of: The circuit certainly was not a walk in the park. While the layout may look simple, period-accurate machinery certainly proved tricky to drive there. Remember, these were the pre-downforce days. Plus, the circuit featured tricky corners in addition to some exciting elevation changes, particularly on the north end of the track.

Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa
Trickier than it first seems: Crystal Palace featured some interesting elevation changes.

Of course, this meant that as racing got faster and faster in the early 1970s, Crystal Palace became more dangerous as well. In the end, this led to its closure as a racing circuit in 1974. Since 1972, it had only hosted club racing.

Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa: Roots in GPL

Today, most of the circuit’s roads are still there. Only a chunk of the start/finish straight is missing, but racing fans can still find the rest of the track in the park. Over the course of a lap, drivers would pass a lake and a football (or soccer) stadium. The surrounding park made for a nice, green scenery.

All of this is captured in its circa 1969 guise in the new Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa. The lineage of the circuit goes back to Grand Prix Legends, from where the track was converted for rFactor 2. With permission from fabr06, the creator of the rF2 conversion, zwiss brought the circuit to AC. This also meant a visual overhaul that made the place come to life even more.

Released in September 2023, Crystal Palace 1969 has received a big update in early November. This includes the aforementioned improved visuals, more objects being added to the scenery, bug fixes and more. The result: an atmospheric, bumpy track that is a blast to drive in vintage cars.

Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa: Great With Vintage Cars

The stock Lotus 25 in Assetto Corsa lends itself well to the circuit, for example. The turns may not look tight, but they are quite a challenge in a car that exclusively relies on mechanical grip. For maximum immersion, you could switch off the in-game HUD, too. The circuit even features a lap counter at the start/finish straight – a nice touch.

Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa Lap Counter
The functional analog lap counter on the main straight.

If you want to give Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa a go, head over to the RaceDepartment download section to grab zwiss’s creation. The track comes with many bells and whistles supported by Content Manager and Custom Shaders Patch, such as RainFX and seasonal adjustments.

For more exciting AC mods, check out our article on the best Assetto Corsa Free Roam Maps!

What are your thoughts on zwiss’s Crystal Palace mod for Assetto Corsa? Have you tried it yourself? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!

Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia. I have been working in sim racing since 2021 after previously working with pro and amateur sports teams and athletes for a daily newspaper in Wolfsburg. Nothing gets me more excited than motor racing, especially with the beastly machines of the past. A third pedal and h-shifter are not just options for a rig, they are mandatory to me. Avid fan of the IndyCar series (modern and CART/pre-split).