Circuit de Reims

History (by Dieter C. Serowy)

Reims is one of the most famous tracks of the early grand prix history. Located west of the city of Reims in the Marne departement in north-east France, the circuit was in use from 1926 to 1970. During that period, Reims hosted the French Grand Prix 15 times. Just like Spa-Francorchamps, Reims is a classic road course: fast, narrow and dangerous. Unbelieveable today is the fact, that the organizers changed the layout of the track in order to make it even faster. The ciruit consited of a triangle of public roads. The character of the track provided close racing and incredible slipstream-battles.

The track was first used in 1926 and saw François Lescot winning the Grand Prix de Marne with a Bugatti. In 1932, Alfa Romeo-driver Tazio Nuvolari won the first French Grand Prix hosted at Reims. It took six years until the Grand Prix returned to Reims: Manfred von Brauchitsch (Mercedes-Benz) won the race in 1938 and H.P.Müller scored his only Grand Prix victory for Auto-Union in 1939. The second world war stopped all racing-activities.

In 1947 the circuit was re-opened with the Grand Prix de Reims. One year later, Reims again hosted the French Grand Prix: Jean-Pierre Wimille drove his Alfa Romeo to victory. When the history of the F1 World Championship started in 1950, Reims again was the host of the French Grand Prix: Juan Manuel Fangio was the winner driving an Alfa Romeo and he repeated this success in 1951 with the help of italian veteran Luigi Fagioli - when Fangios car broke down in the race, the Argentinian took over the car from his team-mate. Mike Hawthorn scored his very first Grand Prix victory at Reims in 1953. In 1954 Reims was the stage of a remarkable comeback: Mercedes-Benz returned to Grand Prix sport with a glorious 1-2-victory by Fangio and Karl Kling. Peter Collins won the French Grand Prix at Reims in 1956 for Ferrari.

The race of 1958 marked the end of an era: For the very last time, the great Juan Manuel Fangio was on the starting grid for a race. But the whole event was over-shadowed by the tragical death of young Ferrari-Star Luigi Musso who was killed during the race. His team-mate Mike Hawthorn won the race for the italian Scuderia.

Victory again for Ferrari in 1959 when Tony Brooks was able to beat the new Cooper-Climax. But one year later Jack Brabham won for the british team. Giancarlo Baghetti made it to a one-off victory in his very first Grand Prix at Reims in 1961. Jim Clark won the French Grand Prix in 1963 and when Formula One visited Reims for the very last time in 1966, it was again Jack Brabham to finish first.

Beside the Grand Prix-races, Reims was also well-known for the "12 hours de Reims" endurance events and for Formula 2-races. When Reims lost the French Grand Prix, the decline of the circuit started. Francois Cevert won the last Formula 2-race in 1969, then racing stopped. The track was out of time in regards of safety - and there were political and financial problems.

Since then, nothing much happened with the once famous race track: Parts of the circuit are used as public roads. The old grandstands and pits are still there as ruins.

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