||Lauri Ouvinen, Matti Ouvinen and Ville Tikkaoja
St. Devote, the Casino Square, Loews, La Rascasse... Speaking of street circuits the track which first comes to mind
is Monaco and you connect those names to it. When mentioning Estadio, Rasante, Miramar, La Pérgola many people
might be wondering what the heck we are talking about. Well, these places are of course from the great Montjuich Park
street circuit. The track, which located in the picturesquare scenes on the Montjuich mountain in Barcelona, Spain, was
superb in layout compared to micky mouse streets of Monaco where heritage speaks more than pure racing. The flowing
streets of Montjuich enabled proper racing with almost half a lap being more or less a flat out blast. The difficult
hilly roads were favourite for many good drivers - and made the not so good to stay away. Montjuich hosted sever
international motor sport events during the years, including Formula 1 Grands Prix between 1969 and 1975, but since then
the track has not been used. Montjuich surely was one of the best street circuits in the world if not the best.
The history of Montjuich mountain goes way before motor racing days and is also long and tortuous. Before the Romans
there was an Iberic village and in the Middle Ages a castle on top of the mountain. The place also became an outpost
for the city's dispossessed people. It was a gloomy, even frightening, place with a huge cemetery on top. Later when
Barcelona expanded urbanisation also reached Montjuich. It was even planned to site the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona
there. The plans were put forward by 1914. However, World War One and other problems ment the exhibition was not
held until 1929. The exhibition left behind picturesquare buildings - and roads, which later found good usage.
In 1913 Rudi Caracciola visited the place and liked it. Then the moves were put together to bring motor sport to
Montjuich. In 1932 the first event was held in a form of a motorcycle race. The first car race was held the next year and
drew attention as Tazio Nuvolari was among the drivers. The event got bigger in 1935 and '36 as Mercedes-Benz'
Silver Arrows and Auto Unions' C-Types were included in the car line-up and with them drivers Luigi Fagioli and Caracciola
and Bernd Rosemeyer and Ernst von Delius. But still Nuvolari had an upper hand in his Alfa Romeo 12C. Then broke the
Spanish Civil War. That and the World War Two made it more difficult to host races. Different kinds of meetings
continued to be ran through the 1950s and early '60s including World Motorcycling Championship rounds and F2 races
with drivers like Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart winning. Montjuich Park also hosted many sportscar races and in
the '70s the awsome Porsche 917s were torturing its tarmac.
But it was in 1969 when Montjuich really hit the big time as it was agreed to host the Spanish Grand Prix for Formula 1,
the event which was going to be alternated with Jarama. Jackie Stewart won the first two races held there and Emerson
Fittipaldi the third. The event was a success and many drivers liked the place. However, the infamous 1975 event
changed all forever.
Before the event several drivers and teams were protesting against the event and did not want to be part of it. It
was a question of safety. It had appeared that the track's Armco was loosely bolted together and therefore was not
up to the safety mesurements. Instead of making corrections to the Armco the organizers threatened teams of lawsuit
if they would not run and also threatened to lock their equipment at the place. Thatway the teams were blackmailed
to race. However, many drivers still wanted to protest. The most notably to do so was Fittipaldi, who just drove a
couple of slow practise laps and left home. In the race few others drove straight to the pits after the start. In the
opening laps there were quite a lot retirements also because of normal racing incidents and that had left Rolf Stommelen
in his Embassy Hill GH1 leading. At the flat over a crest at Rasante Stommelen's rear wing parted company and the car flew over
the guardrail killing four members of the crowd. Stommelen survived, but was badly injured from his legs, wrist and ribs.
For some reason the race was not stopped for another 10 minutes. On the last lap Jochen Mass nipped his McLaren M23 past
Jacky Ickx's Lotus 72 and drove to his only GP victory. The race also saw the first ever woman to get into the points with
Lella Lombardi in sixth. However, only half points were awarded. Formula One never visited Montjuich Park again.
Our lap around Montjuich Park
Racing Images visited the Montjuich Park in Feburary as we stayed in Barcelona while covering the F1 testes at the
Circuit de Catalunya were the Spanish GP is nowadays held. We walked around the streets were the circuit once went. We
arrived to the roads at La Pérgola which is over half way of the track so to give you a proper view of the circuit we
will start this tour from the start finish straight. As we arrived to the scene there was a football match on the Olympic
stadium and there were a lot of cars parked on the streets. The cars more or less spoiled our photos, but we didn't have
time to go there on another day. The Olympic stadium is one the newest buildings around the track being
built there for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. The whole Olympic Village is situated besides the circuit's start finish
straight almost exactly where the pits and paddock once was.
The road goes uphill to the main straight. Or actually it's not a straight but snaking road with fast turns. From
the last right the cars approached the start finish line flat out and continued past the pits throttle burried
to the floor. After a short flatter section past the pits the road goes again left uphill past the old stadium (Estadio,
Olympic Stadium nowadays). After that the road goes again downhill at the place called Rasante, where the cars usually
took some air. Then it's hard on the brakes for the tight El Angulo Miramar hairpin to the left. On the exit the width
of the track more or less halves from what it was coming to Miramar.
From hereon the track starts to go downhill for quite a long time. After Miramar there's soon a right hand medium speed
corner which leads to a right hand hairpin of Rosaleda. This is a faster one than Miramar and the road is banked. After it
is a 90 degree round left of Font del Gat after which the road goes a little left and right. Then the road flattens and
it's a tighter 90 degree turn of Teatro which goes past the Agriculture Hall and continues a bit uphill left-right section.
The the road heads straight towards big stairs and goes right in front of them. The a short straight past Guardia Urbana
(local police station) and a 90 degree left to the circuit's lowest point and its second longest straight.
The circuit's fastest part begins here and the road widenes. After the straight there is a left hander and the road
starts to go uphill again with fast curves. First through round right and left sequence of La Pérgola. Here the road also
goes past the Pueblo Español, a Spanish village built for the Universal Exhibition. The road continues turning left
for Sant Jordi. Here is also a flatter part with a fountain and a sightseeing place. The road again raises and continues
to go left for almost half a circle. It really was an awsome high-speed turn. You could still imagine the cars flying past
trying to negotiate with the neverending turn.
The left going finally ends and the road flattens for the final fast right hand kink which leads us again for the start
finish straight to complete our lap around Montjuich circuit. Now you can imagine the speeds the cars had coming to the
main straight, nevermind what their speed was going over Rasante and braking for Miramar on a new fast lap.
Here's the track map. The numbers represent the places from where the pictures were taken and their direction of view.
Most of the photos have been taken from the driver's perspective so that they will give a forward view.