Crystal Palace in Assetto Corsa: No Walk In The Park

Crystal Palace Assetto Corsa Lotus 25.jpg
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.

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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.

Screenshot_ks_lotus_25_zw_crystalpalace_9-10-123-14-1-0.jpg

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.

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Screenshot_ac_legends_gtc_porsche_911r_crystal_palace1969_25-9-123-16-36-29.jpg
2023 AC.jpg

The evolution of Crystal Palace as a mod track. From top to bottom: Grand Prix Legends, rFactor 2, Assetto Corsa. Image credit: @zwiss

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 Assetto Corsa Lap Counter.jpg

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.

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!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Premium
This is an amazing little track. The 1500 cc open-wheelers are perfect for it, as are the Formula Vintage F3 cars (I forget who made them, and the author's name isn't in the car's UI - sorry!). I recently visited there, and Zwiss did an amazing job capturing the look and feel of the place. The only things missing are the dinosaur statues! :)
 
A discovery to me, as, some how, this track was not on my radar, did not know about it.
Thank you to Zwiss to bring it to us to race at in AC, thank you to @Yannik Haustein for bringing it to our attention.
We all have many (different) reasons to be into simracing, to me, being able to experience real tracks and cars, past and present, in VR, is what makes me sit at my rig, most every day.
 
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Premium
I have this for GTL-GTR2 and it really is a great track but like most great tracks there is that one bend or corner that is challenging, and for me it's the one at the end of the back straight... Ramp bend! that is a real punisher, if you brake too late, it's a wall, if you brake to early you can get clobbered into the wall or lose a spot that's so hard to claim back.
I love that track (thanks MotorFX and GPLea) I only attack it with small tintops but in the olden days hero's raced Sports prototypes T70 and GT40, with respectfully the last circuit race there won by Gerry Marshall in a 'Costin' Lister Jag at the AMOC event.
 
Thanks for reminding me of the GPL version, Yannik!
When I raced the rF1 version years ago I had the strange feeling that I raced the track before, but couldn't remember in which sim.
Raced the AC version vividly, but not in single seaters as displayed here, but trying to collect the cars reflection the historic venues of smaller Touring Car series as well as the Anerley Trophy sports car venues, handfuls for everyone in itself.
Most fun though experienced in the Morris Mini Miglia mod work of Pessio Garage or the TCL pack Mini Cooper S from same garage - very much suiting this beautiful small track :inlove:
 
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Now THIS is simracing news. :)

It does seem like there's an excessive focus on the casual motorsports games in development around here...

I guess certain parties have the marketing focus and money to force those articles into existence...
 
AC just keeps on evolving...

It's amazing what the community has done with that title and it should be every sim racing developers dream that they could have that type of dedication to their product for that long after it was deemed "finished"...

I concur with the sentiment of many here... More articles like this and less fluff marketing pieces thankyou...
 
Premium
i like the track. playing 1960s f1 cars, but a track i like better that was recently released i feel is the laguna seca 60s track.
 
I have this for GTL-GTR2 and it really is a great track but like most great tracks there is that one bend or corner that is challenging, and for me it's the one at the end of the back straight... Ramp bend! that is a real punisher, if you brake too late, it's a wall, if you brake to early you can get clobbered into the wall or lose a spot that's so hard to claim back.
I love that track (thanks MotorFX and GPLea) I only attack it with small tintops but in the olden days hero's raced Sports prototypes T70 and GT40, with respectfully the last circuit race there won by Gerry Marshall in a 'Costin' Lister Jag at the AMOC event.
I've admired this small track in simracing on/off since GPL mod version, highly due to the plenty overtake possibilities round on paper such a tiny simple track.

But digging in to the track - at speed - it tells a completely other story; the track is anything but simple. All the small imperfections make it a treasure worthy of preservation in sim racing.

Driving out my first hotlap in sports car mod in GPL clearly remember my completely wrong take on how to negotiate 1st real corner, the North Tower corner. Immersion to me like off-banked curve, but happened to be a severe tank slapper due to my approach by taking narrow left on the soft left bend before the corner. Should rightly be taken as wide as possible in order to straight line braking. And when done, you can even overtake on the outside while flooring it round North Tower, finishing while heading down The Glade.

And Park Curve - especially racing in VR to the limit - you really feel 'the dip' in your stomach, and sends your thoughts directly to Brands Hatch' Clark Curve, the escape from here feels exactly the same to me. And being just a tad too reluctant before corner, you're probably overtaken here in an instant.

However, I agree that most struggle for optimizing laptime is Ramp Bend. I think it's due to the small right banking suddenly leaves you, hence loosing your grip on the surface - and most dangerous overtake possibility.

But even final corner South Tower Corner should have a mention. At speed, hunting last fractions of split seconds, the risk of greeting the wall just grows if you're just a tad too eager going into the corner.

Now I couldn't resist to go quick drop-in VR racing here in my lunch break, just with keyboard (making balancing the Mini Miglia even a bigger challenge, especially car stability under heavy braking, almost not possible unless a tad garage work here).

Cannot fathom I left racing this AC work about a year ago. Sadfully I'm off most weekend, just hope for opportunity late Sunday in proper sim rig and VR.

This track is just so fun to drive in the minor Grand Touring cars.
A suggestion from here: throw a blend of the smaller cars from the TC Legends mod pack into the pot and see what happens :inlove:
 
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