Where are we going this week?

IMOLA, 20 miles to the south-east of Bologna, in northern Italy, is the home of the San Marino Grand Prix. This is decidedly odd because San Marino - an independent republic which comprises of 23 square miles of land and is completely surrounded by Italy - is nearly 50 miles away. The race is named in order for Italy to host two World Championship Grands╩Prix every year.

The Autodromo was built by the town of Imola, which reckoned it would gain income from the local car and motorcycle manufacturers testing at the track. It was opened in 1952 but did not host a major event for 11 years. In April 1963 there was a non-championship F1 race called the Shell Gold Cup. Jim Clark came with his Lotus-Climax 25 and qualified 2.5secs faster than his team mate Trevor Taylor. Clark led flag to flag. There would be five more years of obscurity until someone came up with the idea of naming the track after Enzo Ferrari's son Dino, who had died of leukemia in 1956. The decision guaranteed patronage for Imola from the Old Man of Maranello and within a couple of years international racing began to arrive. There was Formula 2 in 1970 and again in 1972, and international sportscars in 1974. Major investment in the track brought it up to date and in the autumn of 1979 F1 returned for the Dino Ferrari Grand Prix, a non-championship event which was won by Niki Lauda. A year later Imola hosted the Italian GP, which was won by Nelson Piquet in a Brabham. In 1980 Imola hosted the first San Marino GP and has been in the World Championship ever since.

Today Imola is remembered as the place where Ayrton Senna died on May 1, 1994. The track has been largely rebuilt since then and much of the old challenge has gone.

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter

Print News Story