For 2019, the Historic Grand Prix has created space for a very special timeslot in its programme – a tribute to both Dries van der Lof and Jan Flinterman, who in the 1952 Dutch GP took part in their first and only Grand Prix, making them the first two Dutchmen to participate in the World Championship. This year both would have turned 100, so there is every reason to celebrate. For this, the Historic Grand Prix will gather as many cars from the period as possible – and Van der Lof and Flinterman’s grandchildren will be among its drivers. The Classic Wings & Wheels event at Gilze-Rijen Air Base and the Zandvoort Museum will also take part in the tribute.
Van der Lof and Flinterman’s single Grand Prix participations took place in the first year the Dutch Grand Prix was awarded World Championship status. Grand Prix cars had been visiting the newly opened Zandvoort circuit from 1948 but in 1952 the race would finally count towards the championship. It wouldn’t be a Formula 1 race as such, as the 1952 and 1953 World Championships were held for F2 cars, because of the lack of competitive F1 cars after Alfa Romeo had withdrawn at the end of the 1951 season.
In 1951, the energetic KNAC commissioner Herman van Haaren had already arranged for a local hero to take part in the Dutch GP, but in his HWM, Herman Roosdorp failed to make much of the opportunity. The pace demonstrated by Stirling Moss in the same car demotivated Roosdorp to such a degree that he threw in the towel before the race had even started. Van Haaren didn’t want a repeat of that in 1952, so for Zandvoort’s first World Championship event he arranged for the participation of two of his fellow countrymen.
Dries van der Lof was Van Haaren’s logical choice, as he dominated the sports car class at Zandvoort and was generally seen as Holland’s strongest driver. Van der Lof got a place in the same HWM team run by John Heath and George Abecassis. Van der Lof’s pace proved reasonable compared to HWM regulars Lance Macklin and Duncan Hamilton, but in the race his car proved to be unreliable. Due to numerous pit stops he finished 20 laps behind.
However, Van der Lof had shown enough for HWM to immediately offer him a contract for next season. He considered his options for a week before turning down the offer. His father, industrialist Johannes Cornelis van der Lof, had handed him an ultimatum – either motorsport or the company. Van der Lof chose a future with the N.V. Twentsche Kabelfabriek, because he was just as good at running a company as he was at driving a car. He also went on to serve on the board of the Nederlandse Autorensport Vereniging (the Dutch Motor Racing Association) for many years after.
Van Haaren’s second choice was less obvious. Jan Flinterman had made a name for himself as a Spitfire pilot in the Second World War and then as a jetfighter pilot on the Gloucester Meteor in the Royal Dutch Air Force that he had helped set up after the war. More of a national hero than a racing driver, ‘Major Flinterman’ showed his best behind the wheel nonetheless.
Flinterman was a born racer: his father Maarten had been a famous motorcycle racer, first on grass tracks, later in road racing, resulting in 24 world records set at Monza in 1926. Maarten Flinterman also imported BSA and FN bikes and later headed the Hart Nibbrig & Greeve importer firm. Van Haaren placed Jan Flinterman at the Brazilian Escuderia Bandeirantes team where he actually outqualified his experienced teammate Chico Landi to be the fastest Maserati driver of the meeting. Flinterman’s Maserati A6GCM gave up after seven laps, but then the fighter pilot took over Landi’s car in front of his home crowd to finish seven laps down in ninth and last position.
The 2019 Historic Grand Prix will honour Van der Lof and Flinterman in their 100th year of birth by bringing as many 1952 Formula 2 cars as possible to Zandvoort. Van der Lof and Flinterman’s grandchildren will be part of the driving crew. Shirley van der Lof is a passionate historic driver, like her father Alexander, who is currently the CEO of the former Twentsche Kabelfabriek that in the meantime has transformed into the listed TKH company. In 2014, Shirley already drove at the Historic Grand Prix in a HWM similar to the one her grandfather raced at the time. James Flinterman, CEO of online payment provider Smart2Pay, secured his racing license for the occasion.
In collaboration with Classic Wings & Wheels and the Zandvoorts Museum
For the tribute, the Zandvoort circuit will collaborate with Classic Wings & Wheels and the Zandvoort Museum. Classic Wings & Wheels on 31 August 2019 is a unique event that brings together classic cars and historic airplanes, and will honour Van der Lof and Flinterman on tarmac as as well as in the air. Meanwhile, the Zandvoort Museum will devote an exhibition to both Dutch Grand Prix pioneers. The exhibition period is still to be announced, but the exhibition will remain open at least until after Classic Wings & Wheels and the 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 dune area is just € 17.50 (30 euros for three days). A paddock ticket, which includes access to the main grandstand and the dune area, is 30 euros (day ticket) or 50 euros (three days). Children up to 14 have free access. Also, the exclusive Paddock Club will allow you to experience the Historic Grand Prix at VIP level.