• Henrik Haupt

Circuit de Reims: Abandoned racetrack in France

Updated: May 10

Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims Gueux

In the Champagne region of France, I was on a trip to some abandoned places. Among other things, I had to visit an old race track called the Circuit de Reims. I have spent many hours on various racetracks around Europe, but an abandoned one of a kind was the first, and so far only time.

I was also a little in doubt about what it would be to see here. But fortunately, it turned out that the buildings that remain are preserved by an association that is responsible for their preservation. They are also responsible for keeping them in their original condition.

Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims Gueux pit
Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims Gueux controlpost

It's easy to get wildly fascinated by the old grandstands, with all the billboards being painted up to keep the original look of the pitch. There is no more left of the old track if you take the tour around. So it is only at the start goal that there are still these fine grandstands, which fortunately still stand. I write happily because right after the track's closure, the then-mayor would have it all torn down. But these plans were thankfully thwarted when a new mayor came along, preserving these beautiful pieces of history.

The grandstands of the track and the road outside are from time to time used as a location for various motorsport related events.

Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims Gueux grandstand
Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims Gueux

The history of the Circuit de Reims Gueux

The racetrack was established in 1926 on a public road between the cities of Gueux and Thillois and was then known as one of the fastest tracks. The track had two long sides, both of which were over two kilometres long.

The original course, called the Circuit de Reims-Gueux, was just under 8 kilometres long, and in the first years, had only a slight improvement in 1932. Before the race in 1938, it was decided to widen one of the long sides' width to make the track even faster. This was done by removing both trees and buildings along the course. The race in 1939 was the last race to be run for a time on the track.

Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims Gueux shell grandstand
Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims Gueux behind the pit
Abandoned racetrack Circuit de Reims on top of the pit

After the break-in 1939, motor racing first returned to the Circuit de Reims Gueux in 1947, and the following two years, Formula 1 cars came on the scene. However, these races were outside the regular Grand Prix calendar, so they did not count towards the points for the championship. During these races, it was found out that in order to use the track for Formula 1, the track had to have another upgrade. In 1952, a new layout was made for the course, so that it is now approx. 7100 meters long, and with the improvements that were needed. At the same time, the name of the course is also abbreviated so that it then went under the name Circuit de Reims. In addition to Formula 1, there were, e.g. also run, long distances 12-hour race on the track. In 1966, the last Formula 1 race was run, and in 1972, the last motor race was run, and the track closed the same year due to financial challenges.

Below you can see a video from the Formula 1 race in 1956, which I thought was quite interesting to watch.