Racing Wasn't Always Pleasant Between the Sand Dunes of Zandvoort Circuit
The Netherlands had, and still has, many good and famous drivers and their development couldn’t be possible with a lack of proper facilities. Zandvoort Circuit, or Circuit Park Zandvoort what is the official name of the venue, is definitely a top facility in the Netherlands and could be described as the home of motorsports.
The track has a long history and once was one of the unavoidable venues in the Formula 1 Grand Prix calendar. Sadly, Zandvoort circuit at the same time has a record of many fatal crashes.
Using German roads as the base for the circuit
Located near the North sea shore, in the sand dunes near the city of Zandvoort, which is one of the major beach resorts in the Netherlands, this circuit was opened in 1948. The plans for the racing venue existed even before World War II when the first race was held, but the track was made in post-war years. Interestingly, it was did with a help of the German occupiers. In fact, roads built by the German army were used for the track and their layout dictated how the circuit will look like.
The original circuit, twisty but still relatively fast, was 4.252 km long with 19 turns and was used until 1989. The first Dutch Grand Prix was held in 1950, but not as a part of the Formula 1 championship. Inaugural F1 Grand Prix was held in 1955 and became a regular in the F1 calendar until 1985, with an exception of 1972.
Development of the Zandvoort Circuit was slow and safety always was an issue
Through the decades, track required major improvements and modifications but there were no major modifications made except for the raise of barriers around the perimeter in 1972 and creation of the new pit wall four years before. With the cars’ speed constantly increasing, a safety became an issue after a number of fatal accidents at Zandvoort circuit.
One of those who were killed in the accidents at Zandvoort circuit was the British Formula 1 driver Piers Courage, in 1970. For that reason, a number of changes were made.
Locals against the racing
In the early 1980s, Zandvoort circuit became a real community problem. Local citizens were complaining about huge costs of the venue owned by the municipality and they protested about the noise from the circuit on racing days. After the huge protests in 1982, the ruling party lost the local elections heavily and circuit’s future was in doubt. Finally, due to growing financial losses, part of the circuit, closest to the town, was sold with the intention of building a holiday resort.
Transformation of Zandvoort Circuit into a modern and popular venue
At the same time, plans for the development of the remaining part of the track were approved. With forming of a new operating company, conditions for the reconstruction have been met and works started soon. In the summer of 1989, Circuit Park Zandvoort was opened for racing, despite of the fact that the construction was not complete. It was only 2.6 km long but still good enough to attract and organize various international motorsports events to race in the dunes. The financial situation improved and the plans for further development were approved.
New name – Circuit Park Zandvoort
In 1995 the construction of the Grand Prix circuit begun with a support from the Dutch government. New pit buildings were built, as well the new grandstand and after the new track layout was finished, Zandvoort became a 4.307 km long track with an interesting layout and with 13 turns, some of them being very demanding.
Noise problem remains
Since then, Zandvoort circuit attracts many events and they are regularly well visited. For example, up to 120.000 spectators arrived for the races of the A1 GP series, DTM or Blancpain GT Series. Unfortunately, the problems for the Zandvoort circuit have not ended and the venue’s future is still uncertain due to court orders to reduce the number of ’noise days’.
Zandvoort Circuit also hosts other sports events like cycling and athletics.
Address: Burgemeester van Alphenstraat 108, 2041 KP Zandvoort, Netherlands
Phone: +31 23 574 0740