Zandvoort was the host of the Dutch Grand Prix between 1952 and 1985. Built in the dunes on the North Sea coast, the undulating and challenging track was a true driver's circuit. Efforts to modernise the venue during the 1980s faltered, in large part due to noise restriction issues, and the track lost not only the annual visit of the F1 circus but also the popular Historic Grand Prix. With just a handful noise restriction free days, there was no room on the calendar for classic cars to roam free on the re-sculpted track. Fortunately, that changed in 2012 when the the Historic Grand Prix Zandvoort was re-established. Now in its third year, the event attracted more and better fields than ever before, including the several grids of F1 cars and also the first ever visit to the track of the mighty Group C prototypes.
Our photographers returned to the track where they caught the motor racing bug in the first place and have come back with an action-packed 220-shot gallery
, which serves to illustrate the following concise report.
Tributes and celebrations
The late Sir Jack Brabham is the star of one of Zandvoort's most legendary stories. Annoyed by the reports in the media that he, at 40 years old, was too old to compete in F1, he hobbled onto the grid of the 1966 Dutch Grand Prix with a cane and a false beard. To emphasise his point, he won the race from pole. As a tribute to 'Black Jack' his son David was invited to demonstrate a Brabham F1 car of the same era in honour of the great man, who passed away in May of this year. Sharing the track with David Brabham during the lunch breaks on Saturday and Sunday were several other legendary drivers and machines. Most impressive was the demonstration staged by Classic Team Lotus with a pair of 79s as used by Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson to finish first and second in the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix. The role of Mario Andretti was played by two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk while Chris Locke drove his 79 wearing a replica Peterson helmet. Former Le Mans winner Jan Lammers was also out, driving a Renault-Alpine A310 Turbo. He used a similar car to win both Renault Europa Cup rounds at Monaco back in 1985.
A packed program
The weekend's packed program featured no fewer than 13 different race groups, ranging from diminutive 500cc Formula 3 cars to the high-tech Group C machinery. We will not go into detail of each of these races but instead picked out four of the very best. However, one of the groups that certainly got our attention is that of the DRM Klassik-Pokal. This is a celebration of the German championship staged for Group 4 and Group 5 cars during the 1970s and early 1980s. The packed field featured spectacular machinery like Kremer Porsche 935s, fire-breathing BMW M1s and also a very rare Group 5 BMW-March M1. Also boasting packed fields were that of the two Dutch national championships run for historic touring cars and GTs. The unusual mix ranged from a replica Ferrari 250 GTO and Porsche 904 to Opel Kadetts and Toyota Starlets. Also certainly a sight to behold were the two HGPCA fields with Formula 1 and Formula 2 cars from 1950 through to 1965. Among the cars present was the very Lotus 25 Climax driven to victory in the 1963 Dutch Grand Prix by Jim Clark.
Part of the Masters championships, the 90-minute Gentlemen Drivers race featured early 1960 GT cars like Shelby Cobras and Jaguar E-Types. As the name suggests, it was disputed by gentlemen drivers, potentially relieved by more experienced co-drivers. Locals Hans Hugenholtz and David Hart shared their Cobras with two of the finest Dutch drivers; Sauber F1 reserve driver Giedo van der Garde and WTCC ace Tom Coronel respectively. The Hart/Coronel Cobra started the race on pole with Hart behind the wheel. He had to concede the lead to Audi works driver Frank Stippler in the ex-Le Mans Bizzarrini 5300 GT Corsa, which coincidentally was part of Hart's own collection a few years ago. The German driver managed to build up a small lead but as the tyres faded later in the race, he was reeled in by Coronel, who had taken over from Hart. The Dutch pairing went on to take a popular win from Stippler and the AC Cobra shared by Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield.
Masters Sports Cars
Voyazides and Hadfield also lined up against Hart, this time joined by historic racing ace Martin Stretton in the one-hour Masters Sports Cars race, piloting similar Lola T70 Mk3Bs. Stretton proved fastest of all in qualifying ahead of the Voyazides/Hadfield T70 and a similar car piloted by Jason Wright. In the opening laps, Hart and Voyazides raced nose to tail, chased hard by Manfredo Rossi di Montelera with his much smaller engined but sharper handling Abarth-Osella. On the twistier parts of the track, Rossi managed to get by Voyazides on several occasions but the sheer power of the Lola's Chevrolet V8 allowed the latter to regain his position on the straight every time. Now with Stretton and Hadfield behind the wheel, the leading Lolas managed to pull away from the Abarth-Osella. Hadfield proved to be the quicker of the two and claimed a convincing win in the striking T70. It was the second win for the pairing as they had also claimed victory in the Touring car race with a Ford Falcon Sprint. Hart and Stretton were second ahead of Rossi, who eventually finished over a minute down on the winners.
One of the most popular generation of sports prototype racers, Group C cars never raced at Zandvoort in period nor did they in historic events. Actually, the 2014 Historic Grand Prix was most likely the first time Group C cars were driven in anger in The Netherlands. Unfortunately, only 13 cars were entered but this did contain several of the finest examples like a thundering Sauber-Mercedes, and Nissan and Intrepid GTP racers. Fastest of all in qualifying was the recently restored Gebhardt C91 shared by father and son Frank and Michael Lyons. The first of the pair of 30-minute races was run on a wet but drying track, which saw Stefano Rosina come to fore with his Nissan NPT-90. He managed to build up a lead of nearly a minute over Herve Regout in a Porsche 962 and Richard Eyre in a Jaguar XJR-16. The challenging conditions did catch out three competitors, bringing the field down to just ten cars for the afternoon race. On a dry track, Michael Lyons showed off his vast talent, taking a convincing win with Gebhardt. Race one winner, Rosina did not even complete a single lap as he crashed his Nissan at the exit of the first corner.
Masters Formula 1
Zandvoort's heyday was certainly during the years when it is was a Formula 1 venue and the two races for 1970s and 1980s F1 cars were certainly among the highlights on Saturday and Sunday. Fittingly, in the build-up to the races, the PA-system played the song 'The boys are back in town.' With the exception of Thomas Steinke's howling Alfa Romeo 179B, all F1 cars on the grid were powered by the Cosworth DFV engine. Simon Fish took pole position for both races with the Ensign originally raced by local hero Jan Lammers. He narrowly beat Michael Lyons in an earlier Hesketh 308E, while Christophe d'Ansembourg in the unique Williams FW07B was a full second slower. Lyons would go on to win both races, although in the first race defending champion Greg Thornton did set the fastest lap in the recently restored Lotus 91. Starting fourth, he finished second behind Lyons and just ahead of pole-sitter Fish. In race two, affected by an unnecessarily long safety car period, d'Ansembourgh finished second with Fish again placing third.
With more and bigger grids, the third edition of the Historic Grand Prix Zandvoort was the best yet. This fact was fully appreciated by the Dutch enthusiasts, who flocked to the track in large numbers (50,831 over the weekend). They were most certainly thoroughly entertained by the continuous action on the track, which has been captured in our class-by-class 220-shot gallery