F1 circuits history part 3: 1954-7

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The third part of the guide to Formula 1 circuits includes the longest track ever used for an F1 race – and no it’s not the Nurburgring.

Plus the former site of the British Grand Prix that is now home to horse racing, and the fearsome Monza oval.

Aintree, Great Britain

Aintree first held the British Grand Prix in 1955. It came shortly after the terrible crash in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours and was one of few Grands prix not to be cancelled in the wake of the disaster.

Mercedes dominated and Stirling Moss took a narrow win from Juan Manuel Fangio – although he suspected Fangio might have eased his foot from the throttle to let Moss win at his home event.

Last used for the race in 1962, when Jim Clark won, today the famous horse racing course stands where the racing track once was, though a portion of the tarmac remains.

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy

Monza went through several configurations and a radical 10km (6.2m) track incorporating the road circuit and oval was used for four Grands Prix in 1955, ’56, ’60 and ’61. It was also the scene of occasional races to which American racers and teams were invited, because of their familiarity with oval racing.

The steeply-banked oval was tackled at very high speeds, and the track was used for a Grand Prix for the last time in 1961. On that day Phil Hill became champion for Ferrari after his team mate Wolfgang von Trips died in a crash that also claimed 14 spectators.

Read fans’ experiences of visiting the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza

Rouen-les-Essarts, France

After its first appearance on the F1 calendar in 1952 Rouen was extended from 5.1km to 6.5km.

Pescara, Italy

The Pescara road circuit is the longest track ever used for Formula 1, and its single Grand Prix in 1957 is the subject of an excellent book by Richard Williams called “The Last Road Race” (you can get a copy for pennies and I strongly urge you to).

The enormous 25.5km (15.8m) circuit was formed from the Via Adriatica running parallel to the sea, before turning right into undulating mountain terrain, and then right again on the straight road to Montesilvano. A boxy chicane (not shown on the above diagram) preceded the start line.

Some of the roads around the beginning of the lap are now called the Via del Circuito and Via Enzo Ferrari, as you can see if you switch to the map view and zoom in to the right-most part of the track. This is also the town that Jarno Trulli is from.

Moss won the race in his Vanwall, but Juan Manuel Fangio skidded off on oil. The maestro had won his fifth world championship at the Nurburgring not long before, and was on the brink of retirement.

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy

The other variant of the Monza circuit used in the 1950s was the one that looks most like the circuit we know today, with the Parabolica (within the confines of the oval) replacing the original Curva di Vedano.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “F1 circuits history part 3: 1954-7”

  1. The Monza banking would have been damn scary given how steep and bumpy the surface looks. No wonder it was abandoned, although It’s interesting they removed it in the name of safety despite the biggest accidents at the circuit occurring elsewhere.

  2. at pescara there is also a via senna…..

  3. What a great series of articles… I love a bit of F1 history and nostalgia.

    Knowing this my Mum bought me Mr. Williams’ “The Last Road Race” for Christmas.
    A fantastic and evocative read… EVERYONE with a passing interest HAS to read it!

  4. I seen the old Monza track, cant imagine how a race took place there, although Monza Park is steeped in beautiful history.

  5. rouen that s track driving on road like rally ,trees so close no fense bernie wake up and go out from f1?

  6. i think that pescara better than monza and 10 000 harder than everyone

  7. I wonder if one crazy man with a billion or two in the bank, would be allowed to fix the oval, put in modern saftey features, then ya know have Bernie give it a go.

    That’d be an exciting race track.

  8. Thirteen and a half years(!!!) on from this article’s publication, and nearly eleven years on from the last comment, I can’t help but be pedantic regarding Aintree: the racecourse had already existed for over a century when the circuit was built inside it (indeed, by the time the circuit was built, Peter O’Sullevan had already been commentating on the Grand National for almost a decade). :)

    The cars went in the opposite direction to the horses, of course, and some of the corners and straights took their names from the fences: Valentine’s Way, Canal Curve, Becher’s Bend.

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