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The Birth Of The Circuit Zandoort

The Birth Of The Circuit Zandoort

Deep in the dunes of Zandvoort, in the Netherlands, near the North Sea coastline lives the Circuit Zandvoort, formally known as the Circuit Park Zandvoort.


As early as before World War II, plans for races at Zandvoort were well in place. The first street race was held on June 3rd 1939. However, a permanent race track was not constructed until after the war, using communications roads built by the occupying German army.


Contrary to popular belief John Hugenholtz cannot be credited with the design of the Zandvoort track, although he was involved as the chairman of the Nederlandse Automobiel Ren Club (Dutch Auto Racing Club) before becoming the first track director in 1949. Instead, it was 1927 Le Mans winner, S. C. H. "Sammy" Davis who was brought in as a track design advisor in July 1946, although the layout was partly dictated by the existing roads.

The first race on the circuit, the Prijs van Zandvoort, took place on 7 August 1948. The race was renamed the Grote Prijs van Zandvoort (Zandvoort Grand Prix) in 1949, then the Grote Prijs van Nederland (Dutch Grand Prix) in 1950.


The 1952 race was the first to be run as a round of the Formula One World Drivers' Championship, albeit to Formula Two regulations, which also applied in 1953. There was no Dutch Grand Prix in 1954, 1956 or 1957, but 1955 saw the first proper Formula One race as part of the Drivers' Championship. The Dutch Grand Prix returned in 1958 and remained a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar (with the exception of 1972) until 1985, when it was held for the last time.

During this time, to solve a number of problems that had made it impossible to develop and upgrade the track, the most important one being noise pollution for the inhabitants of the part of Zandvoort closest to the track, the track management adopted and developed a plan to move the most southern part of the track away from the housing estate and rebuild a more compact track in the remaining former 'infield'.


In January 1987 this plan got the necessary 'green light' when it was formally approved by the Noord-Holland Provincial Council. However, only a couple of months later a new problem arose: the company that commercially ran the circuit (CENAV), called in the receiver and went out of business, marking the end of "Circuit van Zandvoort".


Again the track, owned by the municipality of Zandvoort, was in danger of being permanently lost for motorsports. However, a new operating company, the Stichting Exploitatie Circuit Park, was formed and started work at the realization of the track's reconstruction plans. Circuit Park Zandvoort was born and in the summer of 1989 the track was remodeled to an interim Club Circuit of 2.6 kilometers or 1.6 miles, while the disposed southern part of the track was used to build a Vendorado Bungalow Park and new premises for the local football and hockey clubs.


In 1995, CPZ (Circuit Park Zandvoort) got the "A Status" of the Dutch government and began building an international Grand Prix Circuit.


This project was finished in 2001 when, after the track was redesigned to a 4.3 kilometers or 2.7 mile long circuit and a new pits building was realized by HPG, the development company of John Hugenholtz jr, son of the former director, a new grandstand was situated along the long straight.


One of the major events that is held at the circuit, along with DTM and A1GP, is the RTL Masters of Formula 3, where Formula Three cars of several national racing series compete with each other originally called Marlboro Masters, before tobacco advertising ban. A noise restriction order was responsible for this event moving to the Belgian Circuit Zolder for 2007 and 2008. However, the race returned to its historical home in 2009.


Circuit Park Zandvoort played host to the first race in the 2006/07 season of A1 Grand Prix from 29 September–1 October 2006. On 21 August 2008, the official A1GP site reported that the 2008/09 season's first race has moved from the Mugello Circuit, Italy to Zandvoort on the 4–5 October 2008 due to the delay in the building the new chassis for the new race cars.


The Dutch round moved to TT Circuit Assen in 2010. A1GP bankrupted before its fifth season and the Dutch round was replaced with Superleague Formula.

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