The Zandvoort circuit is of the same age as Formula 1 itself, so it’s great news that in 2020 Formula 1 will be reunited with the track in the dunes. As early as September, however, we are ready to celebrate the first era in which the pinnacle of the sport came to Zandvoort for the Dutch GP, as the Historic Grand Prix Car Association will again bring dozens of 1948-1966 Grand Prix cars to the Historic Grand Prix.
Formula 1 as a category saw the light of day back in 1948 – precisely the year that the Zandvoort circuit was opened, immediately followed by the staging of its first F1 race. The decision to create F1 was made at the end of 1947 at the FIA’s green tables in Paris: the pre-war voiturette class (the ‘Formula 2’ of the era) would be the new premier league of motorsport from 1948 onwards. The old supercharged 1.5-litre cars were to be accompanied by newly constructed machines powered by atmospheric 4.5-litre engines. The new class was initially called Formula A, but in 1948 the Formula 1 moniker was used more and more – and that name has stuck ever since.
In 1948, the Zandvoort circuit opened its doors, and immediately ran a Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars. The world championship began in 1950, followed by the inclusion of the Dutch GP on the 1952 calendar. The event would remain on the calendar almost uninterrupted until 1985. During the Historic Grand Prix, the cars from 1966 to 1985 will be represented by the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship while the Historic Grand Prix Car Association takes care of the 1948-’66 field.
The thriving British association attended the first Historic Grand Prix eight years ago and will again take dozens of beautiful cars to Zandvoort in 2019. The favourites for race wins come the most recent 1961-’65 1.5-litre era, with cigar-shaped machines like Peter Horsman’s Lotus 18/21, Michael Gans’ Cooper T79, Barry Cannell’s Brabham BT11A, Sid Hoole’s Cooper T66 and the Lotus 32 (a Tasman car) campaigned by Larry Kinch. A guest of honour – and a previous winner at Zandvoort – will be Andy Middlehurst’s Lotus 25 (chassis R4) once raced by Jim Clark himself.
Some pre-1961 rear-engined Coopers will be equally quick, especially when pedalled by a skilled driver like Will Nuthall – his T53 will definitely be fighting it out at the front. However, don’t discount Rüdi Friedrichs and Chris Drake, also in T53s, or Tom Dark’s T51. The Lotus 18, like the one raced by Nick Taylor – born as an F2 car, but suitable for F1 from 1961 – falls into the same category.
Interesting additions to the field are the F1 cars built in South Africa for its national F1-championship. These include Greg Thornton’s LDS and Eddy Perk’s Heron.
The previous era’s front-engined ranks are led by Julian Bronson’s Scarab-Offenhauser – at the time a car that appeared late, only to be swamped by the nimble mid-engined F1s that were out in force by that time. Among its front-engined rivals, however, the Scarab is today able to easily take on fifties’ icons such as the Maserati 250F and the BRM P25. A few of these will also come to Zandvoort.
The grid is completed by the cars that competed in the two years in which the World Championship was held for Formula 2 cars – it’s not for just any reason that the Historic Grand Prix Car Association isn’t called the Historic Formula One Car Association, as in 1952 and ’53 most GPs were run for F2 cars. Paul Grant and Martin Eyre will bring their Cooper-Bristol Mk2s while Ian Nuthall will appear in an Alta F2.
In short, there is no shortage of variety in both design and engine capacity. A visit to the HGPCA paddock is therefore as worthwhile as watching both races. You will be treated to Formula 1 as it originally was, on a circuit where from Tarzan to Scheivlak you can still taste plenty of history – that’s the Historic Grand Prix Car Association’s contribution to the 2019 Historic Grand Prix.
Historic Grand Prix 2019
This year’s Historic Grand Prix at the Zandvoort circuit will take place on 6, 7 and 8 September. Free practice and qualifying are on Friday and Saturday, the races take place on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday evening 7 September will see a parade through the town centre of Zandvoort.
A pre-sale day ticket for the General Admission area is just € 18,99 (32,50 euros for three days). A paddock ticket, which includes access to the main grandstand and the General Admission area, is 32,50 euros (day ticket) or 55 euros (three days). Children up to 4 have free access. Also, the exclusive Paddock Club will allow you to experience the Historic Grand Prix at VIP level.