July 6th, 2009 by KevinB
Most visitors to seaside sand dunes are there to swim and lounge on the beach; in the Netherlands, hard on the North Sea, they come to Circuit Park Zandvoort to race cars. Under the terms of an agreement jointly announced today by Exploitatie Circuit Park Zandvoort B.V. and iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations, LLC, drivers from all over the world will be able to experience the challenge of this classic European road-racing facility and compete with each other in organized races there just by logging onto the iRacing motorsport simulation service over the internet.
“The last Dutch Grand Prix was held in 1985, but as the host to 30 editions of the race, Zandvoort has more than its share of history,” said Divina Galica, iRacing’s director of partner relations. “We’re very pleased to be able to make the latest version of this great racing facility – now home to DTM, Formula 3 and many club events – available to iRacing’s membership. Last month we initiated the expansion of our track offerings beyond our base in North America with the addition in the UK of Brands Hatch and Oulton Park to Silverstone, which is already available to iRacing members. Circuit Park Zandvoort, the site of so much motorsport history, is a particularly appropriate first European track. Our members from all over the world will enjoy racing there.”
The list of winners of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort reads like a Who’s Who of the first four decades of Formula One, beginning with Alberto Ascari in the first World Championship event in 1952, and including Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Jacky Ickx, Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, Alan Jones and Nelson Piquet. But Zandvoort’s greatest master was Jim Clark, winner four times in the five races held from 1963 through 1967.
“In addition to our many fans, who will now be able through iRacing to have the fun of racing on the circuit themselves in the virtual world, we have real-world racers come from all over Europe and the UK to compete at Circuit Park Zandvoort” said Bart de Snaijer, Circuit Park Zandvoort’s marketing manager. “With our partnership with iRacing and their creation of a millimeter-accurate virtual version of the facility, now drivers who are making their first visit will be able to learn our very challenging track before they arrive for the race meet. And everyone will have the chance to get up to speed before the weekend begins.”
de Snaijer noted that while Tarzan, the 180-degree hairpin at the end of the start/finish straight, is the best-known of the dozen named corners on the 2.672-mile track, Scheivlak is the most challenging, and the turn that newcomers will profit most from by pre-race practice in the iRacing service.
“Scheivlak – there is no English word for it – is famous for its high speeds, changes in elevation and the fact that it’s a blind corner”, de Snaijer said. “Drivers either fear or love it. In a fast car a driver approaches the turn at a speed of 260 km/h (160 mph) and can’t even see the start of the turn until they are right on top of it because the track elevation changes. They enter the turn with a speed of 220 km/h (135 mph). The track drops about 10 meters (33 feet) in height and for three quarters of the way through the corner, they can’t see the exit. A driver can only understand the true rush of this turn when he or she has experienced it, whether in the physical world or in the virtual one.”
Circuit Park Zandvoort is the fifth major configuration of the track since it opened in 1948. While no more than a quarter of the original layout is part of today’s modern track, what all iterations have had in common is a combination of dauntingly fast sweeping corners and tight slow corners that demand technical perfection. Circuit Park Zandvoort is expected to join the iRacing track inventory early next year.