Scandinavian Raceway Anderstorp – Fifty Years of Ups and Downs
The Scandinavian Raceway, also known as Anderstorp Raceway, is a race track in Sweden that once upon a time was hosting the Formula 1 Swedish Grand Prix. Formula One Championship came to Anderstorp six times between 1973 and 1978.
Besides F1, Anderstorp hosted other major international competitions such as Swedish Motorcycle Grand Prix, Superbike World Championship, European Touring Car Championship, World Touring Car Championship or FIA GT Championship. In recent years, the racetrack hosts national and regional events.
A unique combination of a race track and an airport
Anderstorp Raceway is located in the town of Anderstorp, in Gislaved Municipality in Jönköping County, about 80 kilometers from Göteborg. Anderstorp Raceway features a combination of the 4.025 km long race circuit and an airport runway which is using a part of the race track, so Anderstorp Airport is not always available due to activity on the race circuit.
An idea of a race track and airport in one facility was born in the summer of 1965 when three local racers Sven “Smokey” Åsberg, Åke Bengtsson and Bertil Sanell, wanted to have a race track for test rides. The first idea was to build a short 1.5 km track but then they decided to ask local businessmen to help them build a longer track with an airport. An airport would help their isolated town to have a daily connection with Stockholm and will bring prosperity to the local community.
The race track was opened in 1968
In 1966, an idea became a project. Two years later, a project became a race track. The layout of the race circuit was designed by engineer Holger Eriksson, advised by famous Swedish racer Joakim Bonnier.
The original four-kilometer circuit had eight slightly banked curves and a long back straight on which was the airfield runway. Unusually, the pit area was separated from the start/finish line. The pits were between turns five and six.
The Scandinavian Raceway circuit was officially opened on June 16, 1968, with an international sportscar race, won by Jo Bonnier in a Lola T70-Chevrolet.
World Motorcycle Championship came to Anderstorp in 1971
In the following period, sports car races took place at Anderstorp, then Formula 5000 came in 1970 and, in 1971, the World Motorcycle Championship was the first top-class competition at new Swedish race track. Giacomo Agostini won two races in 500cc and 350cc classes with MV Agusta, later taking world championship titles in both classes.
Swedish Motorcycle Grand Prix took place at Anderstorp seven years in a row, until 1977, and then again from 1981 to 1990. Giacomo Agostini has won one more time in top class (500cc) but the record holders with four 500cc wins are Barry Sheene and Eddie Lawson.
Formula One came to Anderstorp in 1973
After some minor modifications were made to the pit lane area in 1972, Sven Åsberg announced that he has a contract for the Formula One Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp from 1973. The arrival of Formula 1 coincided with the rise of Swedish ace Ronnie Peterson, who was an F1 vice-champion in 1971 with March and moved to Lotus for the 1973 season.
Although the circuit is located far from big cities and there were no lot of sleeping facilities, the crowd was big at the inaugural F1 Swedish Grand Prix which took place on June 17, with more than 50,000 spectators around the track. Ronnie Peterson delighted home fans with pole position (lap time 1.23.810) and led for most of the race, losing a victory on the penultimate lap to Denny Hulme (McLaren). Francois Cevert (Tyrrell) completed a podium.
Maiden F1 victory for future champion Jody Scheckter
In 1974, Tyrrell’s drivers dominated at Anderstorp. Patrick Depailler was the fastest qualifier in the #4 Tyrrell 007-Cosworth but he finished second behind his teammate Jody Scheckter in the #3 car. It was Scheckter’s maiden F1 victory. James Hunt was third in the #24 Hesketh.
There were three Swedish drivers in the race – Reine Wisell (March), Ronnie Peterson (Lotus) and Bertil Roos (Shadow), all three retired.
Lauda’s victory in 1975 on a way to his first Formula 1 title
In 1975, Vittorio Brambilla was the fastest qualifier but Niki Lauda won the race in the #12 Ferrari 312T. It was his third win in a row that season. Later in the season, he added two more wins to his account and won his first championship title.
Carlos Reutemann (Brabham) finished second in the 1975 Swedish Grand Prix, ahead of Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari). Swedish drivers Ronnie Peterson (Lotus) and Torsten Palm (Hesketh) finished ninth and tenth respectively.
Scheckter’s win in a 6-wheel Tyrrell P34
At the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix, we saw the second Swedish victory for Jody Scheckter but the race was marked by the first and only victory of a six-wheel F1 car, the Tyrrell P34. Schecker was the fastest qualifier and converted his starting position into a victory, in front of his teammate Patrick Depailler in another P34. Niki Lauda completed a podium in a Ferrari.
Swedish star Ronnie Peterson finished seventh in a March-Cosworth. Another Swedish driver Gunnar Nilsson (Lotus) crashed out early.
French triumph at Anderstorp in 1977
Jacques Laffite was the winner of the 1977 F1 Swedish Grand Prix in the #26 Ligier-Matra. It was a special victory for France because that was the first time that French driver won a race in a French car with French engine and backed by a French company.
Jochen Mass (McLaren) was second, Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) completed a podium. Two Swedish drivers Gunnar Nilsson (Lotus) and Ronnie Peterson (Tyrrell) didn’t finish the race.
Brabham BT46B ‘fan car’ won the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix
Two years after a victory of unique Tyrrell’s six-wheeler, another unique and controversial car triumphed at 1978 Swedish Grand Prix. It was the Brabham BT46B-Alfa Romeo, so-called ‘fan car’. The main feature was a large fan which drew air through the engine water radiator which was mounted horizontally over the engine. The fan also took ground effect to a higher level by sucking air from under the car, creating a partial vacuum and an enormous amount of downforce.
With such a car, Niki Lauda easily won the race. The controversial car never raced again. The podium of the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix was completed by Riccardo Patrese (Arrows) and Ronnie Peterson (Lotus). The Swedish driver reached his second podium in his home race, what turned out to be the last Swedish Grand Prix.
Death of Ronnie Peterson
Ronnie Peterson was in a fight for the 1978 championship title, winning two races and scoring five more podiums with Lotus until the unfortunate Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September, in which he was fatally injured. Despite his death, Peterson finished second in the 1978 F1 Championship.
The death of Swedish racing hero Ronnie Peterson, but also a death of Gunnar Nilsson in October from cancer, decreased an interest for races in Sweden and the Swedish Grand Prix was not a part of the F1 Championship in 1979.
Three years of top-class touring car racing at Anderstorp
In 1979, Anderstorp had no F1 or Motorcycle Grand Prix, the latter took place in Karlskoga. The Motorcycle Grand Prix returned to Anderstorp in 1981 while the next major championship which came to Anderstorp was the European Touring Car Championship in 1985. Gianfranco Brancatelli and Thomas Lindström, who later took the ETCC title, won a 500km race in a Volvo 240 Turbo.
Volvo won again in 1986 but the team was disqualified after the race, so the victory went to Gianfranco Brancatelli and Armin Hahne in a Rover Vitesse. In 1987, Winfried Vogt and Altfrid Heger won Anderstorp 500 in a BMW M3.
Two Superbike World Championship events at Anderstorp
In the early 1990s, World Motorcycle Championship left Anderstorp after 1990 but the Superbike World Championship came in 1991. The winner of both races was the American Doug Polen.
The circuit underwent modernization in 1992, including a moving of the start/finish line close to the pits, between turns 5 and 6. Superbikes returned in August 1993, with two wins of Carl Fogarty.
Bankruptcy and a new beginning
In 1993, the Anderstorp Racing Club went to a bankruptcy caused by problems and financial loss following a 24-hour sports car race. The club overcame problems and reorganized itself as the New Anderstorp Racing Club, continuing to run the Scandinavian Raceway.
In 1994, the major international event was the Interserie sportscar race. In 1995, the Anderstorp 4 Hours became a part of new BPR Global GT Endurance Series. The winners were Michel Ferte and Olivier Thevenin in a Ferrari F40 LM. Next year, Ferrari F40 GTE was a winning car, driven by Anders Olofsson and Luciano Della Noce. In 1998, International Sports Racing Series visited Anderstorp, with a victory of Ferrari 333 SP.
The FIA GT Championship, which had been established in 1997, visited Anderstorp two times, in 2002 and 2003. The winners were Jean-Denis Deletraz/Andrea Piccini in Ferrari 550 Maranello (2002) and Jamie Campbell-Walter/Nathan Kinch in a Lister Storm (2003).
Swedish and regional championships as main events
In the meantime, the Swedish Touring Car Championship has been established in 1996, visiting Anderstorp for the first time in 1997. The inaugural winners were Mattias Ekstrom and Jan Nilsson. In 1999, Anderstorp hosted two STCC rounds, with four wins of Tommy Rustad. There were seven STCC events at Anderstorp between 1997 and 2010. In 2011, the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship was formed and Anderstorp is a regular venue of STCC races since 2015.
In 2007, following a renovation of pit garages in the previous year, Anderstorp hosted the Swedish round of the World Touring Car Championship. Rob Huff won the first race in a Chevrolet Lacetti and then Swedish driver Rickard Rydell triumphed in the second race with the same car. It was just a one-off WTCC appearance at Anderstorp, the World Championship didn’t return to Sweden since then.
The celebration of the 50th anniversary at STCC event
In the recent years, Anderstorp is hosting Swedish and regional races in different racing disciplines, from single-seaters and sports cars to touring cars. The main event is the round of the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship.
In June 2018, STCC event was an opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first race which took place precisely 50th years ago, on June 16. The first ever F1 race at Anderstorp took place on June 17, 1973, while the last Swedish Grand Prix was held on June 17, 1978, so there are two more anniversaries to celebrate.
Address: Anderstorps Motorbana, Nennesmovägen 20, 334 91 Anderstorp, Sweden
Phone: +46 (0)371-161 70
Photos: Scandinavian Raceway, LAT Photo, Bilsport, Jerry Kalgren,