These abandoned racetracks once created memories for millions. A few were reused, but mostly they lie forgotten.
“I am an artist, the track is my canvas and the car is my brush.”
You agree more with Graham Hill when he claimed that a race car driver is also a wonderful artist in his own right! This three-way relationship, between the car, track and the driver, makes for a winning combo. Formula One (F1) is a beloved sport in which cars reach a speed of over 200 mph, sprint to 60 mph in less than two seconds and produce a horsepower of over 1000.
However, over the years, some of our favourite F1 circuits have better abandoned – some due to safety concerns and others due to financial reasons. Some have been forgotten, while others have been repurposed or modified. But even today, all of them are missed.
Here’s a list of once-famous racetracks that could not stand the test of time.
Valencia Street Circuit
The Valencia Street Circuit was home to the European Grand Prix from 2008 to 2012. Now, it only welcomes racing junkies and F1 enthusiasts. This circuit was not appreciated and was blamed for its dull layout and lack of thrills. This venue, along with the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, had been proposed as alternate venues for the Spanish Grand Prix. But the contract fell through, leaving the circuit in a worse condition. The racetrack now has no trace of any hot wheel speeding on it.
This F1 Grand Prix venue hosted by Germany, old Hockenheim, was remodelled in 2002. This legendary track had two long straights through woodlands which led to cars working up to very high speeds on these stretches. It was notoriously difficult for engines to handle them and finish into a stadium section.
On 7th April 1968, Jim Clark lost his life in a Formula 1 accident on this race circuit. Thereafter, two fast chicanes were built near the spot of the accident as well as near the crash barriers. They covered the length of the track to safeguard the drivers. At the spot where Clark’s Lotus exited the tarmac, a little memorial named after him was erected around the trees near the first chicane. After Patrick Depailler was killed at the Ostkurve (east curve) in 1980, another chicane was constructed.
After Érik Comas wrecked there in 1991, the Ostkurve was altered again for the 1992 German Grand Prix – from a rapid left turn to a more difficult right-left-right chicane. Now, instead of a spectacular, remote run through the forest, a radically shorter, Hermann Tilke-designed “point-and-squirt” track of just 1.6 miles in length, flanked by large grandstands, has been abandoned to weeds.
Buddh International Circuit (BIC)
From afar, the Buddh International Circuit appears to be a pristine relic of a golden past. But as soon as you step into this enclosure, you realize that what appears to be a mesmerizing old racetrack is now turned into a barren land with no trace of any F1 hot wheels anywhere. Once witnessing shiny scarlet Ferrari’s and Red Bull blended in blue and red, this racetrack is no longer part of the F1 calendar.
Remember how Sebastian Vettel, won all the 3 F1 races held here and had the iconic moment where he bowed down before his car? Remember the Indian celebrities visiting the F1 races hosted by BIC during these grand events?
In 2020, the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority closed Buddh International Circuit – India’s only F1 circuit for being unable to clear its pending dues in time.
Adding to the above list of abandoned F1 circuits, there is the Korean Grand Prix circuit, Reims, Rouen-Les-Essarts, Dijon-prenois, Clermont Ferrand, Fuji Nascar Speedway, Keimola Motor Stadium, Brooklands race circuit, and many more. Every racetrack has its journey. But fond lovers of motorsport never want this love to fade away.