CIRCUITS: MONTLHERY

Name: Montlhery

The construction of Brooklands in 1907 and Indianapolis in 1908 prompted European nations to build oval circuits after the end of World War I. The first to open was the Autodromo Nazionale at Monza in 1922 and it was followed by Spain's Sitges-Terramar in late 1923 and by two French ovals: Montlhery, to the south of Paris; and Miramas, on the floodplains of the Rhone to the north-west of Marseilles. Both were ready in 1925.

Montlhery was built in the course of 1924 on land purchased specifically for the purpose by Alexandre Lamblin. The track , designed by Raymond Jamin, featured a banked oval known as the "Piste de Vitesse" and an L-shaped road course which ran from the oval through the surrounding woods. The combined circuit was 7.7 miles in length and this played host to the French Grand Prix in 1925 - the race in which Antonio Ascari was killed when he crashed his Alfa Romeo. The event was eventually won by Robert Benoist in his Delage.

Just as Brooklands was the centre of British racing in the 1920s and 1930s, Montlhery was home of French racing with several major races every year. These included the French Grand Prix in 1927, 1931 and between 1933 and 1937. The track was also used for a variety of speed record attempts and other events such as The Million, a contest in the late 1930s between Bugatti and Delahaye for a prize fund of a million francs which had been offered by the French government.

Revived after World War II, Montlhery gradually faded from the international scene as a result of a series of accidents in the late 1950s which claimed the lives of Guy Mairesse and Louis Rosier and a nasty accident in 1964 which killed two drivers and three race officials. Although it became increasingly run down in the 1970s, Montlhery continued to be used as a Formula 3 venue until 1989.

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