by Dennis Niesing – photographs Tobias Ubbens
I got up at 7:30 am to a very cloudy sky and a lot of wind. Upon arrival at Zandvoort the weather seemed to clear a bit but it the wind was still strong. For my friend Stefan this was his first visit to the Historic Grand Prix, and he was amazed by what he saw and heard. All the different types of race cars, classes but also the different types of teams. You have the teams with a big budget standing next to the guy who’s saving all his money to do a couple or maybe even just one race or event a year. Big luxury trucks and hospitality units next to the bearded race fanatic with his old beat-up Landrover and trailer. A lot of them are English, I love the English car culture and race passion. It is surpassed by none and there is always a great sense of humor. But there were also participant’s from other European countries, German and Spanish to name a couple of languages I heard during the day.
The first year of the Historic Grand Prix a colleague of mine, who is one of the head race stewards, got me a couple of free tickets. I asked my nephew Mark along and it was an amazing experience, one that instantly made me an addict for life. At one moment Mark and I were having a drink and watching a team struggling with their, I believe former Hesketh F-1 car, to get it off its flatbed. One of the team members approached us and asked if we could lift the car to get the gravel, that had accumulated after a gravel bed excursion, out of the car. Mark and I, both reasonably big guys, looked at each other and thought, that shouldn’t be a problem. So we did, first the rear end, after checking where we could lift it, and then the front of the car. A lot of people were taking pictures and someone was filming the whole thing. I would love to have a picture or film of that moment, because that is unlikely to ever happen again. Can you imagine Christian Horner approaching someone to ask to lift the Redbull F-1 car? This made me an even bigger motorsport and car-culture nut then I already was.
But back to Sunday and the action of the day. It wasn’t that crowded in the morning so there was plenty of opportunity to really have a close look at the cars and people around. The sound those race cars of yesteryear make is just so intense and so much more powerful than anything racing today. Stefan was blown away by a small single seater with single carburetor from the 1950’s that was warming up. That little 1.4 or 1.6 litre engine made even more noise then Stefans home built Peugeot 205 with 45 mm Weber carburetors we built a lifetime ago.
A little bit further there were a couple of great pre-war cars, including a gorgeous Hotchkiss race car. I believe it was a land speed record car, because of its long sloping body and rear end. It didn’t run that Sunday but on Saturday it did as you can see in the pictures. There were also a great Alvis, two beautiful Bentleys and a gorgeous green handcrafted piece of art. I forgot to photograph the front so I can’t tell what it is. While we were looking at the pre-war cars, in the background the GT-class was racing. The sound of the stingray Corvette was just awesome, a raw hammering stomping sound that echoed thru the dunes, followed by the Ferrari powered Lola that just howled away thru the dunes.
The Porsche stand was really something to behold, a stunning Le Mans winning number 23 Porsche 917 flanked by the Porsche 956 with a long racing history and the Can-AM Porsche 917-30. To the left was the number one Porsche Hybrid 919 from this year’s Le Mans. All but the last one did a demo run, the 956 wasn’t really going for it, but the 917 and the 917-30 went for it on the straight, which sounded absolutely incredible and gave everybody a smile from ear to ear.
We settled down on the main stand to watch the start of the historic Formula 2, that just blew Stefan away. The sheer volume of the sound is just mind boggling, every mechanic and driver must have been deaf in those days. After that there was the Dutch GT race with a very large starting grid, a great variety of cars and makes. Shortly there after the Porsche demonstration and then the BMW 2002 meats CSL race which was great to watch and hear. A great number of BMW 2002’s and CSLs were invited over and a big number had accepted the invitation.
There was a small BMW stand with the origal BMW CSL and the homage BMW CSL. Rach looked amazing but the homage CSL was simply stunning to look at. The detail and craftsmanship to achieve such a look is just superb.
Then followed the historic F1 cars, that just shook the ground and rattled the buildings and some eardrums. Great to see those cars being driven like they should be.
The overall atmosphere and vibe of the Historic Grand Prix is really great, everybody has an enormous smile on there face and a lot of families are attending as well. It’s a great day out for the true petrol and race fanatic, but also for those who just want to have a nice day out and enjoy themselves.
I will be back next year again and I think Stefan as well, his facial expression said it all!
Thanks Zandvoort and the organization for another petrol and rubber fumed day of fun.