Zandvoort Beach for Amsterdam

The history of Circuit Zandvoort

The origins of Zandvoort's racetrack lie in the thirties of the last century. At that time, Zandvoort was a resort town full of grandeur and jet setters. The seaside village was thriving, and according to the mayor at the time, H. van Alphen, the sport of motor racing was exactly what the town needed. Although Zandvoort acquired a street circuit, van Alphen remained convinced that Zandvoort needed a permanent racetrack. But building this permanent circuit was too expensive, so they had to make do with the street circuit north of Zandvoort, an area which was still being developed at the time. Wooden stands were built along the track and on June third of 1939, the first races were held on the street circuit. These were the first official motor races ever held in the Netherlands.

Only a year later, Zandvoort presented a very different picture. The Second World War had broken out, and the town sustained heavy damage. From 1942 onward, the beach was sealed off and many hotels and resorts were demolished. In spite of the German occupation, van Alphen still hung on to his plans for a permanent circuit. He managed to convince the German occupiers to build a ‘paradenstrasse’. This is a long, wide stretch of road the Germans could use for victory parades after they had won the war. The Germans liked his ideas and used the rubble from the demolished hotels to construct a long, wide road. This played into van Alphen's hands, of course. He had everything figured out in advance, and the ‘paradesstrasse’ ended up as the straight of Circuit Zandvoort. The debris of the houses and buildings destroyed in the war were used as foundations underneath the road surface of the track. When the Netherlands were liberated on May 5th 1945, a considerable part of the track was finished, even though it still had to paved. Construction of Circuit Zandvoort started in 1948. The ruble from the hotels was covered up with tarmac. In that same year, the first Grand Prix race was held and as of 1950 the Dutch Grand Prix was officially part of the Formula 1 calendar.

Many legendary races followed. Between 1948 and 1985, 34 Grand Prix races have been run, with big name winners like Alain Prost, Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda. 1985 eventually saw the last Formula 1 race ever in Zandvoort, with Austrian Nikki Lauda winning the last Grand Prix title of his career. But this was by no means the end for the racetrack. Another renovation followed and since then the racetrack has hosted different international racing classes like DTM, Blancpain GT series and Formula 3. A must-see for all lovers of the racing cars of times past is the annual Historic Grand Prix. In the first weekend of September the most beautiful racing cars from the different decades of the last century will battle it out, so you can experience first-hand what it was like in the early years of the Formula 1. And the icing on the cake is when the parade of oldtimer cars heads from the track to the town center, where visitors can admire them up close.