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DECEMBER 9, 2003

The full story behind a new Jarama

Spanish racing sources are reporting that there are plans for the Real Automovil Club de Espana to completely rebuild its famous racing facility at Jarama as a "Motor City". The plan is the idea of Juan Luis Huidobro Bustamante, the president of RACE, who is now trying to get interest in the idea from the Madrid city government which stands to gain considerably from the development of a race track. Jarama was built in 1966 by the famous circuit designer John Hugenholz and in the 1970s the Spanish GP alternated between Barcelona's Montjuic Park and Jarama. After an accident at Montjuic in 1975, Jarama took over the race completely until 1981 when RACE seemed to lose interest and the circuit began to degenerate.

Jarama is fortunate in that it is built on the flight path from Madrid's Barajas airport and so noise is not a problem, despite considerable development in recent years around the track which was originally built in the middle of nowhere. As part of RACE's plan the new facility would include a sports complex and the construction of a second golf course. There would also be a heliport which would house helicopters to help control Madrid's traffic.

The Jarama project has been mentioned in relation to Formula 1 but it appears to be more to do with a rival project for a Automobile City in the Pinto area where the local authorities are trying to get backing for a huge motordrome with an automotive theme park and industrial park. With such investment, however, it makes sense for the RACE to bid for a race. Huidobro says that the project needs around $42m.

The Spanish Grand Prix has been held in Barcelona since 1991 and has a long-term deal in place for the event. However the local government has recently changed and Jordi Pujol, the force behind the event, has retired.

There is a long history in Spain of rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona.

RACE is one of the oldest automobile clubs in the world and this year celebrated its centenary.