The circuit of Chimay
Here the history of the Belgian street circuit of Chimay. Once an ultra fast race track that could compare with old Spa-Francorchamps.
In 1926 a race event was organized near the Belgian city Chimay. It was an initiative of local race enthusiast Jules Buisseret. Because the location was close to the French border the name of the event was "Grand Prix des Frontières" (Grand Prix of the Borders).
It was a combined event with car races and motorcycle races at a circuit formed by public roads with a section trough the city of Chimay. The success of the Grand Prix des Frontières made that this would become an annual event. And as the circuit became known by more people, more race series came to Chimay.
On this satellite photo you can recognize the old track very well.
Click here for a lap around the circuit.
The 10,870 km (6.8 Miles) long street circuit was very fast with mostly quick corners and elevations, just like the old circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.
Before the start of the 1984 season, some parts of the circuit where reconstructed. A new connection was built to cut off the section trough Chimay. This new connection was also the new start/finish area with a brand new pit complex. To make some fast sections more safe, three new chicanes where constructed. After this reconstruction the length was reduced to 9,7 km (6 Miles).
When in 1992 Belgian Procar driver Guy Nève, the younger brother of ex Formula one driver Patrick Nève, was killed after a crash at the fast corner “Virage Spikins” the track was found to dangerous for car racing. From than only motorcycle races where held at the circuit.
In 1996 it was all over for the old track when a new 4,520 km (2.8 Miles) short version of the circuit was opened to bring back car races to Chimay. Short after the start/finish line a new connection was built, who cuts off three quarter of the former track! This new connection is nothing more than a straight with two chicanes. At the end of the new section you enter the old part of the circuit.
But this new version contains only two kilometres from the original eleven kilometres of the old circuit. The used part of the original track includes also two double "bust stop style" chicanes who where introduced in 1984! However, the new circuit can't compare to the old one. At the old circuit where only a few slow corners, most where very quick. But at the new circuit you can't find any fast corner, it's stop and go all the time.
The last national races at Chimay where held in 2005. What should become the 80th anniversary party in the year 2006 became a big disappointment. After an eleven hours during inspection by the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, the new track was found inferior for races with modern cars! Fortunately the organizers could keep the track suitable for classic events. In 2008 there even was a classic motorcycle race at the old track!
The remains of the control tower!
The aim was to repeat that a year later, but because some safety incidents in the past year politics banned racing at the old track. This decision means the definite end oft the old race track. However, if you want you can make a nostalgic tour at this former street circuit. All the roads are still there in original shape. Except at one point where they constructed a roundabout!
© Text and pictures: Herman Liesemeijer Satellite photo: Google Maps