Circuit Park Zandvoort is a motorsport race track located in the dunes north of the town of Zandvoort, in the Netherlands, near the North Sea coast line.
There were plans for races at Zandvoort before World War II: the first street race was held on June 3, 1939. However, a permanent race track was not constructed until after the war, using communications roads built by the occupying German army. Contrary to popular belief John Hugenholtz cannot be credited with the design of the Zandvoort track, although he was involved as the Nederlandse Automobiel Ren Club chairman (the Dutch Auto Racing Club) before becoming the first track director in 1949. Instead, it was 1927 Le Mans winner, S. C. H. "Sammy" Davis who was brought in as a track design advisor in July 1946 although the layout was partly dictated by the existing roads.
The circuit was inaugurated on August 7, 1948. The following year the race was called the Zandvoort Grand Prix and in 1950 it became the "Grote Prijs van Nederland" or Dutch Grand Prix. The 1952 Dutch Grand Prix was a round of the World Drivers Championship for the first time [but not a Formula One race, as the World Championship was for Formula Two cars that year and in 1953]. There was no GP at Zandvoort in 1954 (a sportscar-event replaced it), but 1955 saw the first proper Formula One race counting for the World Championship. After 2 more years without a race the Dutch Grand Prix was back on the World Championship(s) calendar in 1958 and from then on remained a permanent fixture (with the exception of 1972) until 1985, when it was held for the last time.
To solve a number of problems that had made it impossible to develop and upgrade the track, the most important one being noise pollution for the inhabitants of the part of Zandvoort closest to the track, the track management adopted and developed a plan to move the most southern part of the track away from the housing estate and rebuild a more compact track in the remaining former 'infield'. In January 1987 this plan got the necessary 'green light' when it was formally approved by the Noord-Holland Provincial Council. However, only a couple of months later a new problem arose: the company that commercially ran the circuit (CENAV), called in the receiver and went out of business, marking the end of "Circuit van Zandvoort". Again the track, owned by the municipality of Zandvoort, was in danger of being permanently lost for motorsports. However, a new operating company, the Stichting Exploitatie Circuit Park, was formed and started work at the realization of the track's reconstruction plans. Circuit Park Zandvoort was born and in the summer of 1989 the track was remodeled to an interim Club Circuit of 2.6 kilometers (1.6 mi), while the disposed southern part of the track was used to build a Vendorado Bungalow Park and new premises for the local soccer and hockey clubs.
In 1995, CPZ (Circuit Park Zandvoort) got the "A Status" of the Dutch government and began building an international Grand Prix Circuit. This project was finished in 2001 when, after the track was redesigned to a 4.3 kilometers (2.7 mi) long circuit and a new pits building was realized (by HPG, the development company of John Hugenholtz jr, son of the former director), a new grandstand was situated along the long straight. One of the major events that is held at the circuit, along with DTM and A1GP, is the RTL Masters of Formula 3, where Formula Three cars of several national racing series compete with each other (originally called Marlboro Masters, before tobacco advertising ban). A noise restriction order was responsible for this event moving to the Belgian Circuit Zolder for 2007 and 2008. However, the race returned to its historical home in 2009.
Circuit Park Zandvoort played host to the first race in the 2006/07 season of A1 Grand Prix from 29 September-1 October 2006. On 21 August 2008, the official A1GP site reported that the 2008/09 season's first race has moved from the Mugello Circuit, Italy to Zandvoort on the 45 October 2008 due to the delay in the building the new chassis for the new race cars. The Dutch round moved to TT Circuit Assen in 2010. A1GP bankrupted before its fifth season and the Dutch round was replaced with Superleague Formula
The circuit gained popularity because of its fast, sweeping corners such as Scheivlak as well as the "Tarzanbocht" (Tarzan corner) hairpin at the end of the start/finish straight. Tarzanbocht is the most famous corner in the circuit. Since there is a camber in the corner, it provides excellent overtaking opportunities. It is possible to pass around the outside as well as the easier inside lane. This corner is reportedly named after a local character who had earned the nickname of Tarzan and only wanted to give up his vegetable garden in the dunes if the track's designers named a nearby corner after him. On the other hand, many different stories about Tarzan Corner are known.
The circuit design has been modified and altered several times:
1948-1971: length 4.193 kilometers (2.605 mi)
1972-1979: length 4.226 kilometers (2.626 mi)
1980-1989: length 4.252 kilometers (2.642 mi)
1990-1998: length 2.526 kilometers (1.570 mi)
1999present: length 4.300 kilometers (2.672 mi)
The corners are named as follows (the numbers correspond to the image above, starting at the start/finish line):
Tarzan corner (1)
Gerlach corner (2)
Hugenholtz corner (3)
Rob Slotemaker corner (5)
Masters corner (formerly Marlboro corner) (7)
naamloze corner (formerly Renault corner) (8)
corner zonder naam (formerly the Vodafone) (9)
the S corner (formerly Audi S corner) (10 + 11)
Kumho corner (12)
Arie Luyendyk (formerly Bosuit) (13)
The elevation difference is 15 meters (49 ft).