As we stand waiting at the starter tree of the 2009 motorsports season, we've let our minds wander across the infinite expanses of Google Earth, finding these shots of the world's top 15 race courses.

Formula 1 starts up next month, IndyCar the month after and NASCAR already snoozing away got us thinking about racing. Letting our minds wander across the blue globe of Google Earth let us come up with the following list of the world's top 15 race courses. There's 15 below. The 16th? That's a bonus.

So how did we come up with this list? We used the following criteria:

1.) Track Features: Length, number of corners, golf course-like water hazards, etc.
2.) Level of Danger: Those corners from above? How sharp are they? Are there drop-offs like Laguna Seca?
3.) Trees: Yes, you heard us, trees. It's great as an indicator of age, and it also diffuses engine noise, heightening the thrill of being there for viewers. Without them, everything ends up sounding alike — one long, droning buzz that never leaves.

So, based on those three criteria, here's the full gallery

Do you think we got the order wrong? A course we're missing that's better than the rest? Fine. You're entitled to your opinion. So give it to us in the comments below.