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In this article I tell you the history of the old Pedralbes Circuit. It was a very fast street circuit – in the Pedralbes distict of Barcelona – that hosted three times a Formula One Grand Prix…
The origination of the Pedralbes Circuit
In 1946 the Penya Rhin Grand Prix was held at a brand new street circuit at Pedralbes in Barcelona, Spain. Before the Penya Rhin Grand Prix came here it was held at Villafranca and Montjuich, which was also a district from Barcelona. In 1947 there was no Penya Rhin Grand Prix but in 1948 they came back to Pedralbes.
The layout of the Pedralbes Circuit
The street circuit of Pedralbes was a 4,465 km (2.79 Miles) long triangle, formed by the streets Avenida del Generalisimo Franco (Now Avinguda Diagonal) where the start/finish was, the Carretera de Cornella a Focas de Tordera (Now Avinguda d’Esplugues) and the Avenida de la Victoria (Now Avinguda de Pedralbes).
There where three long straights and one part with fast sweeping corners which was the only challenging part of the circuit while all the other corners where street corners to connect the roads. Despite the layout was not very challenging the fast circuit was very popular by the drivers and the spectators.
The Spanish Grand Prix
In 1950 the Penya Rhin Grand Prix was an inagural Formula 1 race. For this event the circuit was expanded with the Passeig de Manuel Girona and the Carrer de Numància. Also the driving direction was changed, from counter clockwise to clockwise.
The length of the circuit was now 6,316 km (3.947 Miles) with a 2 km (1.25 Miles) long start/finish straight! During the Grand Prix top speeds of 280 km/h (175 Mph) where held on the long straight which makes Padralbes the fastest city circuit of its time.
The 1951 Grand Prix was counting for the Formula 1 World Championship, it was the first official Formula 1 race in Spain. In 1954 the Spanish Grand Prix came back at Pedralbes after an absence of two years.
For this event a small change to the circuit was made which brought the length now at 6,333 km (3.958 Miles). However, it would become the last F1 race at Pedralbes…
The end of the Pedralbes Circuit
After a grave accident during the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955, which took the lives of more than 80 spectators, races all over the world where cancelled including the Spanish Grand Prix.
As a result of the accident, safety standards for the circuits where increased. This meant the end of the very fast street circuit, which was never used again.
The old Pedralbes Circuit today
Today you can still make a lap at the old street circuit, however some things have been changed. In the middle of the 50 meter wide Avinguda Diagonal is now a tramway and at the site of the first corner begins a highway.
Avinguda d’Esplugues has now become a city highway with tunnels. The section with the fast kinks is almost unchanged, except the roundabout they built in the first kink.
A roundabout at the most challenging section of the former street circuit!
The tramway at the Avinguda Diagonal.
© Text & photos: Herman Liesemeijer
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