Rudskogen is Norway's premier circuit and is now considered the national centre for motorsport following an extensive government-funded rebuild. Whether it will see any international action in future only time will tell, but right now this is one Hermann Tilke track that very few in the wider world will have heard of...
Set in rolling terrain with an impressive forest backdrop, the circuit is a good test of driver skill, being both fast and technical.
The course remains an important national venue, seeing the visits of Norwegian Gatebil championships, general testing action and a number of manufacturer promotional days each year.
Norway was relatively late to circuit racing, its efforts in motorsport having been confined to rallying and ice racing previously, with races held on frozen lakes in the 1930s. The idea of a permanent facility for car and bike racing was first mooted in the Østfold region in the 1970s but the proposed course at Skjeberg never got off the ground.
In the 1980s, a new proposal for course near Rakkestad was put forward by the Sarpsborg motor club. This gained more traction and eventually became a reality, construction on the course next to state road 111 being completed in 1990. Belgian Formula One driver Thierry Boutsen cut the ribbon on May 20 to open the 1.9 km course.
The Rudskogen Motor Center was jointly owned by the Sarpsborg Club, Rakkestad Municipality, the Norwegian Automobile Federation and various driving schools in Østfold. After a number of years, former racer Harald Huysman bought a majority interest in the circuit and the complex expanded with the addition of a new karting circuit at the back of the paddock area.
In 2006, Rudskogen was successful in a competitive bid to receive government funding to turn the circuit into a national centre for car and bike racing. As a result, Hermann Tilke was commissioned to undertake a total site redesign, with the new layout expanding into the forested area to the south. Work on the new circuit began in 2011 and was completed by 2012. Sebastian Buemi lapped the new course in a Red Bull Formula One car during the motorsport festival which officially opened the new complex on August 24-26.
The new layout adds a much larger pit and paddock area - located alongside the main straight for the first time - though to date temporary structures are required for race meetings, there being no permanent garage buildings. The original circuit plans called for a variety of short course versions which could be operated simultaneously, though these were not built in reality but could still be added in future.
The motorsport festival from the launch has been repeated in successive years, with Marc Gene setting the lap record in the 2013 event, lapping the course in 1m 9.507s in a Ferrari F1 car.