2015 Historic Grand Prix Zandvoort

Ferrari 250 GTO/64

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The 1964 Series II 250 GTO (or GTO/64) has been more-or-less overshadowed by the earlier ‘62 Series I cars, but the later Pininfarina designed body is still a beautiful piece of automotive history. The super-sleek windscreen angle and chopped cabin make it look much racier than the more voluptuous Scaglietti bodied Series I. This particular Ferrari actually started life as a 1963 250 GTE, and was later rebodied to recreate the GTO/64. Not only does it look fast, it was fast – taking a win and a third place during the weekend’s two races.

Renault 5

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Just to show that a racing car doesn’t need to be exotic or expensive to be eye-catching, this Renault 5 Alpine stood out for looking like a little bundle of fun. With just 103bhp from the twin-carb 1.4-litre engine, it wasn’t very quick but thanks to a kerb weight of just 710kg it must have made up ground through the twisting and tightening corners of this challenging track.

Dorpsfeest (the parade)

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In addition to three days of classic racing at the circuit, the weekend would give residents and tourists alike the chance to experience the cars up close, in another nod to the old days. Before 1973, when a larger pit building was constructed, garage space at the circuit was very limited – so much so that the Formula 1 teams would rent local garages for their headquarters during the weekend, driving the race cars between the village and circuit for the track sessions. To honour this odd but charming scenario, the municipality allows a large selection of competitors to drive a mini tour of the town after the day’s racing, taking in the seafront before parking up in the centre where the crowds could see the cars up close. It’s a delightful thing to see a line of race cars, from a 1930s Bugatti to a McLaren CanAm car (via a Porsche RSR and Lotus 22), parked in such an incongruous setting as the Saturday night crowds mingled outside bars and restaurants admiring the racing machines.

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Zandvoort certainly knows how to entertain its visitors, unsurprisingly for a place with tourism at it’s heart, but involving the town in the festivities is a brilliant idea when you bear in mind the Historic Grand Prix can only take place thanks to a noise waiver granted by the municipality. Given that the survival of so many smaller circuits across Europe is threatened by noise complaints from local residents, giving a little back and sharing the passion for racing outside of the track makes a lot of sense.

Whether the event has made its friends locally or from further afield, it certainly made a lot of them – the result was a packed venue with more than 52,000 spectators over the weekend – I can’t remember attending a busier European classic racing event outside of Goodwood, so a genuinely huge achievement for the organisers. Let’s hope good relations continue and events like the HGPZ can keep on entertaining and exciting far into the future!


Categories: Race


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