Although Spain had been a major player in motor racing in the 1920s and 1930s, the Spanish Civil War and General Franco's stringent ways in the post-war era meant that it was not until the 1960s that motor racing began to re-emerge. The revival was led by the Royal Automobile Club of Spain, which approached famous circuit designer John Hugenholz and asked him to build them a permanent racing facility on land the club owned to the north of Madrid. It would be called Jarama.
Not to be outdone the Catalans resurrected their splendid circuit through Barcelona's Montjuich Park, which dated back to 1932. Suddenly Spain had two international racing facilities and it was not long before Formula 1 came visiting, with Jarama hosting a non-championship Grand Prix in 1967. This was won by Jim Clark in a Lotus. The following year Jarama hosted a round of the World Championship. The race came just a few weeks after the death of Jim Clark and it was apt that it should be won by Clark's Lotus team mate Graham Hill.
It was agreed that thereafter the Spanish Grand Prix would alternate between Jarama and Montjuich Park and so Grand Prix racing did not return to Jarama until 1970 when Jackie Stewart led from start to finish in his Team Tyrrell March-Ford 701. It was March's first win. In 1972 the young Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi won for Lotus and in 1974 the race marked the first win for Ferrari's new signing Niki Lauda.
The unpleasant accident at Montjuich in 1975 meant that from 1976 the Spanish GP was at Jarama every year and James Hunt won the 1976 race and Mario Andretti both the 1977 and 1978 races in his JPS Lotus. In 1979 Patrick Depailler scored his first win for Ligier at the track and the following year the Spanish GP was scheduled to take place at the height of the FISA-FOCA war. As a result Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo did not appear. The race was won by Alan Jones in his Williams but it was later declared illegal and did not count for the World Championship.
The 1981 Spanish Grand Prix will long be remembered as one of the most exciting races of its era as Gilles Villeneuve hurled his cumbersome Ferrari turbo around the track, with a queue of cars trying to pass him. It was faultless drive by the French-Canadian ace in front of King Juan-Carlos with Villeneuve crossing the line with four cars in his slipstream, Jacques Laffite, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio de Angelis all being covered by just 1.24secs.
By the early 1980s, however, Jarama was fading and the Royal Automobile Club of Spain seemed to be more interested in the golf course next to the circuit. The Spanish GP moved to Jerez and Barcelona. The track is still operated today but there are few international events.