On June 3 1939, an international competition for race cars was organised for the first time in Dutch history. This involved a course through the streets of Zandvoort attracting a couple of thousand visitors, to which the mayor of the town decided a permanent circuit was needed. Due to the outbreak of World War II, the circuit did not truly begin construction until 1946, with the rubble of the hotels that were destroyed during the war as foundation for the track which is known today as circuit Zandvoort.
On 7 August 1948, the first race was held on the new asphalted Circuit and in 1952, Zandvoort became an official part of the Formula 1 world championship. The original track was very twister but most corners were very quick with the first half of the track still in use today. With legendary drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Jack Brabham triumphing at the circuit in the 50’s and 60’s.
In 1973 an extra turn was added to the circuit, the Panorama turn. During the F1 race, Roger Williamson lost control of his car due to a suspected tyre-failure and crashed into the barriers, spinning upside-down and catching fire. David Purley stopped by the accident and tried unsuccessfully to save Williamson. The race was eventually won by Jacky Stewart. After some adjustments to the fire extinguishing material, the Formula 1 calendar came back to Zandvoort in 1974 to which Niki Lauda won.
The last formula one race at Zanvoort was in 1985, with teammates Alan Prost and Niki Lauda fighting for victory. By the time the chequered flag dropped, Lauda was victorious by two tenths of a second, his 25th and final race win. Ayrton Senna made the podium with his third place.
Due to the arrival of a new bungalow park and economic problems, it was decided in 1988 to shorten the circuit to an interim circuit. This way, the national motorsport could still race on the circuit and work towards good exploitation of the circuit. Options were discussed to get Zandvoort back on the international map with the decision to invite Formula 3 drivers to come to Zandvoort with the birth of the Marlboro Masters.
Many masters’ winners ended up in Formula 1 with the likes of David Coultthard, Pedro Lamy, Enrique Bernoldi, and Jos Verstappen, attracting international attention. More recent examples are Takumo Sato, Christian Klien, and Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
In 2012, the first edition of the Historic Grand Prix Zandvoort was held. Partly because of the extra noise days, Zandvoort became more and more popular. It wasn’t long until ADAC GT Masters, FIA GT3 European Championship, FIA European Formula 3 Championship and Blancpain Sprint Series came to Zandvoort.
Over the years, the circuit has gained popularity due to its fast sweeping corners such as ‘Scheivlak’ and ‘Tarzanbocht’: a cambered corner providing excellent overtaking opportunities on the outside and inside of the track.
Next week Reiter Young Star’s and RYS Team Kiska will be heading to Circuit Zandvoort for their fourth round of the GT4 European Series Northern Cup Championship. Make sure you have your tickets ready for next week’s event at this iconic race circuit steeped in history. It is guaranteed to be an exciting and competitive weekend of motorsport not to be missed!