The Dutch Grand Prix was a Formula One automobile race held at Circuit Zandvoort, from 1952 to 1985.
Zandvoort circuit dominated the small country of Hollandís motor racing for many a decade.
The town of Zandvoort is situated on the North Sea coastline. It is only a few miles from the tulip capital of Haarlem. During the 1930ís there were a couple of minor street races but it was the German invasion that was the trigger for real racing in Zandvoort. It is said that the mayor in a desperate attempt to save his people from working for the Germans in labour camps made a deal with them. He agreed to allow the Germans to build a straight road right through the center of the town that could be used as a parade ground when the war was over. This was later linked to other roads which were used to access coastal defense positions.
After the war some of these roads were widened and linked together and a racing circuit was designed by a group of officials from the Royal Dutch Motorcycle Association, with advice from the winner of Le Mans 24 Hours in 1927, Sammy Davis. The first race took place in 1948, under the title of the Zandvoort Grand Prix. It was won by Thailand's Prince Bira in an old Maserati with British drivers Tony Rolt and Reg Parnell behind him. The following year the race was held to F1 regulations and was won by Gigi Villoresi's Alfa Romeo. In 1950 the race became known as the Dutch Grand Prix but was not until 1952 that this became a round of the World Championship. From then on it was a regular round of the World Championship right up until the 1980s. It was a track were the driver can make a difference and if you look at the list of winners you will see four wins for Jim Clark, three for Jackie Stewart and three more for Niki Lauda. It was at Zandvoort that Gilles Villeneuve drove his famous lap on three wheels in 1979. The Tarzan Corner at the end of the main straight was always exciting. providing a great opportunity for overtaking. There were sad moments too.
In the end, it was the onslaught of environmentalists rather than safety which put paid to Zandvoort's Formula 1 history. The decision was taken to sell off part of the old circuit to make way for housing but to build a vast dune on order to protect the houses from the noise of the new circuit. This was not a great success and eventually plans were announced for the track to be restored as much as was possible to the original design. That work is now completed and the Dutch hope that eventually Zandvoort may win a place once again in the Formula 1 World Championship. The F1 circus might regain its taste for sea breezes and frites with mayonnaise...