Zandvoort and racing have been linked since the late 1930s. Since then, several legendary racing classes and even more legendary drivers have hit the track. With the return of Formula 1, history returned to the circuit, but in a modern way.
The start of legendary history (1930 - 1970)
Zandvoort and racing have been inextricably linked since the late 1930s. On June 3, 1939 a race was organized by enthusiasts on a temporary street circuit. The event was a success and formed the starting point for the establishment of a permanent circuit in between the Zandvoort dunes. Mayor Henri van Alphen saw an opportunity to put Zandvoort back on the map, after the seaside resort already had an elite status in the second half of the 19th century.
The construction of the circuit was delayed by the outbreak of the World War II. For example, Burgemeester Van Alphen was deposed by the Germans, but he continued to work on the construction of the circuit in secret. Despite opposition from national politics, the circuit was finally completed in 1948 and the first race was held on August 7. The winner of this event was Prince Bira of Siam. This race wasn't part of the championship, but was well attended by Formula 1 drivers. During this period, the track had only five named corners: Hoek van Tarzan, Hunserug, Scheivlak, Bos In and Bos Uit. Many of these names are still being used or referred to.
In the 1950s, the track through the dunes was fully embraced by Formula 1. The race was renamed 'Grand Prix of the Netherlands' and in 1952 the race was part of the official Formula 1 World Championship for the first time, which only consisted of eight races. Several big names in the sport, such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Sterling Moss and Alberto Ascari, won the race in Zandvoort.
In the following decade, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Jack Brabham, among others, took a chance on the track. They all won the 'Grote Prijs van Nederland'.
Accidents put a shadow over the Grand Prix (1970 - 1985)
In the 1970s, a negative veil came over the circuit. In 1970, Piers Courage crashed at the back of the track and died on the spot. The race was resumed, but there was a mood of mourning on the track. After the race proceeded normally in 1971, the 1972 race in Zandvoort was not held because the circuit did not pass the security check.
In 1973 the Grand Prix of the Netherlands was back on the calendar with a new corner, the Panoramabocht. However, the reopening of the circuit soon fell through when Roger Williamson crashed. His car caught fire and the accident became fatal due to a lack of extinguishers. Again safety adjustments were made and the race was run again in 1974 and was won by Niki Lauda. Lauda also won the (until then) last Dutch Grand Prix on August 25, 1985, after which Formula 1 did not return to Zandvoort for 36 years.
Back to basics (1985 - 2012)
In 1988, Circuit Zandvoort was adjusted to an interim circuit, so national racing could continue. In order to get back on the international map again, an alternative was sought. Because of this, the Masters of Formula 3 was introduced. Winners of Formula 3 raced against each other to determine who was the best. Many winners of the Masters eventually reached Formula 1. This gave Zandvoort renewed prestige. David Coulthard, Jos Verstappen, Tom Coronel and Christian Klien, among others, won the Masters of Formula 3, but also Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hülkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen stood on the top step of the podium.
Due to the popularity of the Masters of Formula 3, other racing series also returned to the North Holland seaside resort. In 2001 the German DTM came to The Netherlands and Zandvoort became one of the most visited locations of the calendar. In 2006 a new event was introduced: A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, an international competition in which different national teams compete in equal cars. Jeroen Bleekemolen drove multiple home races and brought the fans in Zandvoort into ecstasy. The FIA WTCC also wanted to visit Zandvoort, but this was postponed due to strict noise rules.
In 2008 CM.com Circuit Zandvoort celebrated its 60th anniversary. For this anniversary, a special event was set up in which historic racing classes and Dutch Power Pack cars were combined within a special program and there was a parade through the center of Zandvoort. The event was received with lots of enthusiasm.
Following the 60th anniversary, the first Historic Grand Prix was organized in 2012. Several formula cars from Zandvoort's history gathered here.
Increasing popularity of Circuit Zandvoort (2012 - 2019)
In 2016, the new management changed the company's vision. A location once described as an 'old coastal racetrack' is being transformed into a modern all-round business and leisure location. In addition to regular track days and racing events, all kinds of other activities take place on and off track every day. This varies from meetings, conferences and company parties to running events and the recording of video clips. Circuit Zandvoort offers (almost) 365 days a year spectacle for everyone and establishes itself in the list of names such as the Efteling and Johan Cruijff ArenA.
After the track's popularity increased and more 'sound days' were allowed by the municipality, Circuit Zandvoort returned as a major name in international motorsports. Top series such as the ADAC GT Masters, FIA GT3 European Championship, FIA Formula 3 European Championship and the Blancpain Sprint Series visited Zandvoort as part of their calendar.
The 'Jumbo Race Dagen, driven by Max Verstappen' in 2017, 2018 and 2019 generated lots of national and international attention, partly due to the hundred thousand race fans who visited the event. The success and popularity of the Jumbo Race Dagen caught the attention of Formula One Management and meetings about the return of a Dutch Grand Prix were soon initiated. On May 14, 2019, the return of Formula 1 in the Netherlands was announced and the arrival of the 'Grand Prix of The Netherlands' in Zandvoort was a fact.
Circuit Zandvoort shines (2019 - present)
With the re-arrival of the Dutch Grand Prix in 2020, there was a lot of work that needed to be done. The track had to be adapted to Formula 1 requirements for the necessary Grade 1 license. Two curves adjusted and run-off strips were added. All parties managed to be ready on time, so the circuit could be reopened on March 4, 2020 with the so-called 'Legendary Lap.' Max Verstappen reopened the track in his RB07 in style.
The 2020 Dutch Grand Prix was cancelled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The positivity and enthusiasm with which the organization started the project did not disappear and everyone was eager to put on a spectacular edition in 2021.
On September 5, 2021, after 36 years, an official Formula 1 race was driven again at the Zandvoort circuit. Twenty Formula 1 cars entered the renovated track in the Dutch seaside resort and the weekend was also supplemented with races of the FIA Formula 3, W Series and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. As icing on the cake during this Orange Party, Max Verstappen won the first modern variant of the Grand Prix of the Netherlands, now known as the Formula 1 Heineken Dutch Grand Prix.
At the end of September, Racesquare Circuit Zandvoort settled at one of the VIP lounges above the pit lane. Racesquare is a modern sim race center where people compete digitally.
After the praise the organization received after the Dutch Grand Prix of 2021, the tone was set for the 2022 edition; this edition was allowed to be even bigger, more beautiful and more spectacular now that all COVID measures had disappeared. This edition took place on September 4, 2022 and with the motto 'Ready for More' another big party was built in Zandvoort. For three days more than one hundred thousand people - per day - traveled to Zandvoort resort by bicycle, shuttle bus or public transport. Where artists such as Afrojack and La Fuente treated fans to a wonderful atmosphere in the stands, Max Verstappen provided the icing on the cake once again with a resounding victory for the second year in a row.
The Dutch Grand Prix is now an extravagant racing festival. Mercedes AMG F1 team principal Toto Wolff said in an interview: 'you've set a fan engagement benchmark for all Grand Prix promoters around the globe'. The Austrian team principal is referring to the Dutch Grand Prix with all its entertainment as an all-round event. The Dutch Grand Prix is more than a race weekend: it is a three-day festival for all generations. On to 2023!
Get in touch with us
We would like to help you