Report and photos by Dirk de Jager
The inaugural Brussels Historic Grand Prix Revival was held September 3-4, 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.
Staged to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Formula One Grand Prix in Brussels, the “new” track was placed about 500 meters from where the original course first ran in 1961. Held right across from the Belgian Royal Palace in Laken in the Ossegempark, the circuit was placed on one of Belgium’s most famous roads – the Eeuwfeestlaan. On this street is probably Belgium’s best know monumental landmark constructed – the Atomium. Built for the 1958 World’s Fair, this well-known building played host to racing cars from different eras that thrilled the audience with well-paced demonstration runs under the globes of the Atomium.
Due to the restrictions of the location, participants in the 2011 Brussels Historic Grand Prix Revival were running over the double one-way lanes across the park in five different categories.
The pre-war group consisted out of several well-known brands as Bugatti, Aston Martin and Bentley to lesser-known cars such as Amilcar, Peerless and Ballot down to obscure Belgian-made specials such as a Lenkin Grand Prix, a car that only participated in one Grand Prix after the World War II. The diversity in this group attracted a lot of attention, given it’s not often you see cars of this vintage running around in the Capital.
In the second group, Formula one cars from before 1966, there was a nice mix from a Stanguellini to a Gordini, a pair of Cooper Bristols, several Lotus, plus a Cooper Climax and Emeryson Climax.
The third group was consigned with F1, F2 and F3 cars before 1985. Within this group, spectators got the best connection with the current F1 cars. A lot of the cars look more modern compared with the previous groups and manage to achieve impressive speeds on the small track to the delight of the 10,000 visitors across the weekend.
The biggest group was made up from Formula Ford race cars, listed as formula cars from before 1990. A lot of these small racers generally don’t have any front or rear wings and only basic setup possibilities. Back then, and still nowadays, these Formula Fords where considered to be a great learning school for young drivers and are also an “affordable” means to go racing. With well over 20 cars in this demonstration group, it shows that this still is the case as their owners where lapping the course and from time to time even mis-judging the braking points.
The last class at the Brussels Historic Grand Prix Revival 2011 was a diversity of cars used to give people demonstration laps of the cars on-board a Radical SR3, Ariel Atom or the replica Ford GT40s that were present.
The rest of this field consisted out of new Porsches delivered by Porsche Belgium or a Peugeot Spider 207. One of the “celebrities” present was Phillipe Graton, the son of Jean Graton and the creator of the Michel Vaillant comic series. He brought along a Vaillante to show around but also was there to celebrate the Revival since in its 7th issue Michel Vaillant “raced” in the Brussels Grand Prix.
For a first edition, the Brussels Historic Grand Prix Revival 2011 saw a strong turn out of race cars and we can look forward to another edition with hopefully bigger fields.
Brussels Historic Grand Prix 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Dirk de Jager]