CIRCUITS: REIMS

Name: Reims

One of the most famous of the road circuits of the Twenties, the Reims track was first used in 1925 and was the home of the Grand Prix de la Marne. Close to the village of Gueux, to the west of the champagne city, it consisted of a triangle of public roads. It was a track where slipstreaming was vital and the long back straight rivaled the Mulsanne at Le Mans. In 1932 the circuit hosted the French Grand Prix for the first time and this was won by the Alfa Romeo of Tazio Nuvolari. In the 1930s it hosted the Grand Prix de la Marne and gradually permanent structures grew up. The Grand Prix cars did not return to Reims for a French GP again until 1938 when the Mercedes-Benz of Manfred von Brauchitsch was victorious. The following year an AutoUnion won but then war broke out.

The track was revived after the war, the first event being the Grand Prix de Reims in July 1947 which was won by Christian Kautz in a Maserati. The following year Jean-Pierre Wimille won for Alfa Romeo and in 1949 it was the turn of Louis Chiron in a Talbot-Lago.

In 1950 Reims was chosen to host the French Grand Prix, a round of the new FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The first race was won by Fangio. The race returned in 1951 and Fangio won again but in 1952 the event moved to Rouen although Reims ran its own non-championship GP de la Marne a week before the Rouen race. This witnessed a famous victory for Jean Behra's Gordini. The following year the French GP returned with Mike Hawthorn scoring his first World Championship victory. Fangio won again in 1954. The 1955 event was cancelled after the Le Mans disaster, but returned in 1956 with a win by Peter Collins.

In 1958 Hawthorn won again but the race was marred by the accident which claimed the life of his Ferrari team mate Luigi Musso. Ferrari's success at the track continued in 1959 with victory going to Tony Brooks while Jack Brabham won for Cooper in 1960 and a year later Giancarlo Baghetti achieved a remarkable result by winning for Ferrari on his F1 World Championship debut. In 1963 there was another French GP at Reims with Jimmy Clark winning for Lotus but by the mid Sixties competition for the race was intense and it was not until 1966 that the World Championship returned. Jack Brabham won his first victory with a Repco engine. Thereafter Reims faded from the international scene as more modern facilities such as Paul Ricard took over.

The old grandstands and pits are still there today, overgrown and gradually falling down.

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