In this Circuits of the past video you see Herman’s top 10 of abandoned race tracks across Europe. All these circuit ruins are visited by Herman himself. Motodrom Gelsenkirchen was a 0.466 Miles short club circuit in the west of Germany. It opened in 1969 as a gravel circuit, but graduated to an asphalt circuit in 1977. The track was used for amateur stockcar racing. Actually it was a road circuit, but in a way it had some characteristics of a quarter Mile oval. Just like an oval it was driven in anti-clockwise, with two parallel straights. But the straights of Motodrom Gelsenkirchen were longer, with several left and right kinks. The official name of the race track was Motodrom Gelsenkirchen. But the locals called it mostly Almaring. Alma was the name of a coking plant on the site. And ring is German for circuit, so it was kind of nicknamed the Alma Circuit. However, in the early 1980’s the Almaring became opposition from environmentalists… …and local residents who, surprise surprise, complained about the noise! Undertecting a theme. That led to the closure of the circuit in 1984. Since then, the track has been left abandoned. But while most abandoned race tracks are illegal to enter, this one can be visit legally! The site is now a park, and the overgrown track is now an asphalt path throughout the woods. Herman: We’re at the former Motodrom Gelsenkirchen, also known as the Almaring. The old Opel Test Track, official named Opel-Rennbahn… …opened in 1920 as a test facility of the Opel Factory in Rüsselsheim, Germany. It was an oval track, inspired by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Soon they saw the commercial potential of the track, and started to organize races during the weekends. For these occasions they built five grandstands around the track, which could accommodate 50.000 spectators. Beside motor racing, the large proving ground was also used for markets, exhibitions and performances of Opels own music chapel. But when in 1927 the Nürburgring opened, and in 1932 the Hockenheimring, the Opel-Rennbahn got tough competition of modern tracks. In the 1930’s less races were organized. And when WWII broke out in 1939, motor racing stopped completely. After the war the Opel Test Track was used by the American Army, to test military vehicles. But in 1949 the track closed and was left abandoned. In 1987 the abandoned circuit got the status of a monument of industry and technology. Today, a part ot the overgrown track is cleared and equipped with an observation platform. The Nivelles Circuit opened in 1971 as a safer alternative to Spa-Francorchamps. Nivelles hosted the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix twice, in 1972 and 1974. Both races were won by Emerson Fittipaldi. Because the circuit was only 2.3 Miles long, with huge run off areas, it was not very popular by the drivers. However, there was a very challenging section called the Big Loop. Actually the track was never finished. The design foresaw a longer track. But the owners could not bring up enough money to actually buy the land neccesary to build it. They decided to built a short circuit First, to expand it later. That was a huge miscalculation! Once the circuit was there, the land owners wanted more money. So the Nivelles Circuit was never completed. The circuit came in Financial trouble and closed it’s doors in 1981. But that was not the end of the story… After the closure it was used for illegal racing. In the spring of 1998 Herman visited the abandoned Nivelles Circuit for the First time. He was just in time before the demolition started. The fate of Nivelles inspired him in 2003 to start a website about lost circuits. The name, “Circuits of the past”. Today the old Nivelles Circuit is a business park. The public road follows parts of the old circuit layout, like the Big Loop. And in the woods is still a part of the abandoned track. But it is only a matter of time until that part is also converted into a business park too. The abandoned Southern Loop of the Nürburgring can be seen as the forgotten part of this iconic race track in Germany. When the Nürburgring opened in 1927, the complex included the famous 14.17 Miles long Northern Loop. A 1.4 Miles Start/Finish Loop, and also a 4.8 Miles Soutern Loop. While the prestigious Northern Loop was used for international races, like the German Formula One Grand Prix, the Southern Loop was used for national races. The official name of this section is “Südschleife” which is actually German for Southern Loop. After 1975 the Südschleife became disused. And when the Nürburgring lost the German Grand Prix after the terrible crash from Niki Lauda in 1976, plans were made to modernise the Nürburgring. Victim of the modernisation was the old Südschleife. To built the new Grand Prix Circuit they demolished the old Start/Finish Loop and the northern part of the Südschleife. What left of the Südschleife became public road or entrance road to the parking. But there is also still a section left abandoned. Brooklands opened in 1907 and was the First ever purpose built race track in the World. It was an initiative from entrepreneur Hugh F. Locke-King. Because racing on public roads was banned by the British law, he want to built a permanent racing venue. They built the circuit near the village of Weybridge, southwest of London. Brooklands was combined of a high banked oval, with a road circuit on the infield. There was also a steep hill to test vehicles. Before and after the First World War Brooklands had a huge bloom. Motorsport was only for the rich those days. Not only the drivers themselves, but also the audience consisted only of wealthy people. “The right crowd and no crowding” was the circuits slogan. WWII would eventually become the downfall of Brooklands. The aircraft manufacturer Vickers was located on the infield. During WWII, this factory had to run at full speed and capacity, and so expansion was necessary. Since the circuit was not used during the war, a part of the banking was demolished. Moreover, the circuit was easy to recognize from the air by the German Air Force. To camouflage it, holes were made in the surface in which trees were planted. In 1946, the site was sold to Vickers, which went further with the demolition of parts of the banking. Half a century later, Brooklands finally gets the status of being monument, which therefor prevents further demolition. Today, a part of the old Brooklands Circuit belongs to the Brooklands Museum. When the Monza Circuit opened in 1922 it contained a road circuit and a high banked oval, wich could be used together or sepparatedly. The length of the combined circuit was exactely 10 Kilometres, which is 6.2 Miles. During a huge reconstruction of the track, that started in 1938, the original banking was demolished. They also built a test track, known as the Pirelli Track, and a huge new grandstand with a restaurant. However, in the 1950’s Monza wanted to return to it’s original concept of a combination of a road circuit and a high banked oval once again. In 1955 the new Monza layout opened with a new oval, almost on the same site as the original. To give this circuit also the length of exactely 10 Kilometres once again, they introduced the famous Parabolica Corner. The full circuit was used 3 times for the Formula One Italian Grand Prix. In 1956, 1960 and 1961. The full version with the banking was also used for the 1966 Formula One movie Grand Prix. After Formula One abandoned the banking, it was also found too dangerous for other series. It was used for the last time in 1969, during the 1000 Kilometres of Monza. Since then, the old oval was left abandoned. When the Monza Circuit needed to improve safety in the 1990’s they needed to chop down some trees. So they came up with a plan to demolish the disused banking, and use the space to replant trees again. Just like they would do with old 2002 Hockenheim revamp. But after massive protest, among others by Formula One drivers, they decided to cancel the plan. Since 1978 the old Monza Oval is used once a year by the Monza Rally. But only the lower part of the banking can be used. The rest of the year, it’s just simply a memory to the past, which can be explored utterly legally. The Reims-Gueux circuit was operational from between the years of 1926 and 1972. It was most famous for holding the French Grand Prix, which it held 12 times between the years of 1950 and 1966. But alongside Formula
One races they also hosted the annual 12 Hours of Reims. Originally the Reims-Gueux circuit ran through the village of Gueux. in 1952 however, a new connection was built to shortcut the passage through Gueux. A year later this section was extended. Which made the Reims-Gueux circuit one of the fastest circuits in the Formula One calendar. After the 1953 Grand Prix they also increased the radius of the Muizon Corner and the Thillois Corner… …to make the circuit even faster. After the last French Grand Prix in 1966, the Reims-Gueux circuit was used just for national races… …and the 12 Hours of Reims. But the track soon became outdated and
it was closed in June 1972. The day after the last race they started to demolish the pits. However, shortly after the start of the demolition a new mayor ordered it to be stopped immediately! But sadly the first pit boxes had already been demolished. After many years of being abandoned, new plans were made to demolish the rest of the buildings… …and build new houses on the site instead. Fortunately the foundation “Les Amis du Circuit de Gueux” was founded, to save the remains of the old Reims-Gueux circuit. They got permission to restore the buildings and guarantee that nothing else would be demolished again. Every time Herman visits the Reims-Gueux circuit he can see the improvement in the restoration. The foundation does a good job in preserving this piece of motorsport history! The Leyland Test Track was built in the late 1970s and opened in 1980. The test circuit was mainly used to test trucks and busses from British Leyland. But it was also used for Rally Stages. The test faccility contained a banked oval for high speed testing, with on the outside a long straight for brake testing. We see that straight now in front on the right. There was also an infield track with a huge skid pan, several rumble strips and a test hill. The Leyland Test Track closed in 2005 and since then the site is left abandoned. Officially the track is not accessible, but there are several not official entrances. On July 27, 2017 a plan was given green light to demolish the disused Leyland Test Track… …and build 960 new houses on the site instead. That was exactely a year before Herman made his First visit! The Sitges Terramar circuit opened in 1922 – and was a private initiative from Frik Armangue – near the seaside resort Sitges Terramar, not far from Barcelona. The track was an oval with a huge banking of 66 degrees! Another strange odity was that the oval itself had a right kink in its backstraight. The Sitges Terramar circuit was the first permanent race track in Spain. In 1923 it hosted the Spanish Grand Prix, which was won by Albert Divo in his Sunbeam. However, the race track was not a Financial succes. Bills were not payed and as a result of that it was shunned by international series. In 1925 Bugatti driver Edgar Morawitz bought the site. He caused a short recovery of the Sitges Terramar circuit. But when in 1936 the Spanish civil war broke out, the track closed and never opened again. In 2008 Herman visited the abandoned race track. It took him some effort to get permission from the then owner to take pictures. Those days it was an agricultural area. However, there are rumors the Sitges Terramar circuit has been sold to a new owner. He want to change it into a motorsport resort… …with the classic high banked oval as part of a museum and exposition ground. Fingers cross that happens! The Morano Po Circuit, also known as Autodromo Casale Monferrato, was a 1.53 Miles long race track in Northern Italy. The Autodromo Casale Monferrato opened in 1973 and was used for national races. Like the Italian Formula 3 championship and touringcar races. However, there was a plan to extent the track to make it suitable for international races too. But in 1975 local residents start complaining about the noise. Yep, that happens in Italy too! For the 1976 season, the number of racing event at the Mrano Po Circuit were reduced. But that was not enough, and by the end of the season the circuit was closed. To prevent illegal racing, a part of the asphalt layer was destroyed in 1977. But it was restored later, in an attempt to bring the track back to life in 1981. But after several trials they didn’t get permission for a reopening. The circuit itself still remains abandoned. Right up untill this day. The coolest of the Morano Po Circuit ruin is that alsmost everything is still there, except the grandstand. In the summer of 2017, Herman visited the abandoned circuit with two Italian friends who showed him the way around. They explored the old pit building, the track itself, and an old restaurant left abandoned on the site. If you want more information about the circuits in this video, please visit the website… www.circuitsofthepast.com. There is also a free ebook about 7 abandoned circuits you can visit legally. Thank you for watching, and don’t forget to subscribe for more memories to the circuits of the past.