A Postcard from Reims-Gueux


Our our recent road trip, we passed through Remis, so took the chance to have a look at the old track, so here are some of our pictures.

History of the circuit - taken from good olde wikipedia

Motor racing started in 1926 with the second Grand Prix de la Marne, relocating the race from the Circuit de Beine-Nauroy to Reims-Gueux. The original 7.816 km circuit placed the start/finish line on road D27, approximately 1.6 km east of the Gueux village center, where it would remain for the duration of the circuit. Gradual improvements in track width to a few sections including the Garenne-Gueux / Thillois corners prior to the 1932 Grand Prix de France contributed to a new published circuit length of 7.826 km after which the circuit remained essentially the same until 1937.

Organizational changes prior to the 1938 GP de France saw extensive widening of the Thillois-Gueux straight. The process was reported to have felled trees and demolished structures to make the circuit yet faster, concluding the Grand Prix era with the 1938-1939 championship editions of the French Grand Prix.

Racing at Reims-Gueux resumed in 1947 with the 16th Grand Prix de Reims, effectively ending the Grand Prix de la Marne series except for a last edition in 1952. 1948 and 1949 saw the first Formula 1 cars at Reims-Gueux for two non-championship rounds. By then temporary grandstands were established fixtures at the Gueux / La Garenne and Thillois corners and after hosting the sixth round of the inaugural 1950 World Drivers' Championship, it became clear that the circuit needed further extensive renovations to comply with the accelerating Formula 1 technology.

For 1952, the track was re-configured to bypass Gueux via the (then) new D26 section, shortening the circuit from 7.826 km to 7.152 km (4.444 mi) after which it was renamed "Circuit de Reims" or commonly referred to simply as "Reims". Improvements continued in preparations for 1953, the inaugural year of the 12 Hours of Reims series, which featured a new D26 track extension from the Virage de la Hovette (Annie Bousquet corner) to a new purpose built intersection with the La Garenne straight (Muizon corner) about 1.2 km west of the previous Gueux / La Garenne junction, resulting in a new preliminary circuit length of 8.372 km (5.187 mi). The last major modifications were before the 1954 season, re-profiling the new Muizon corner from the previous year and the Thillois corner to a larger and faster radius, which established again a shorter and final circuit length of 8.302 km (5.158 mi). This public road circuit had previously been made up entirely of straights with a few slight and very fast kinks and slow corners; with the addition of these 3 fast sweepers and the extension of the main straight, this circuit, which was already very fast- was now even faster than it had been before, by about 10-15 mph per lap.

The last year for Formula One at Reims came in 1966, final sports car competitions were held in 1969 and Motorcycle racing continued for another 3 years. In 1972, Reims-Gueux closed permanently due to financial difficulties. There was to be a historic race held in 1997 but it was cancelled for technical reasons several months before it was due to take place and by 2002, the bulldozers arrived to demolish some portions of the track. A few sections of the old circuit are still visible today around the pit lane, at the D26 / D27 round-about and a part of the D26 extension at the Hovette corner to what once was the 1953 Muizon hair-pin (visible on current sat. images).

Today, the old RN31 straight between Muizon and Thillois is a wider dual carriageway, although it does follow the same line as the original two-lane road of the former circuit. It is still possible to drive a lap around the (more or less) original 1926 version (through the center of Gueux) and the 1952 variant of the circuit, except for the old Garenne -junction which was demolished as part of the RN31 modernization. It is no longer possible to complete a lap of the circuit used from 1953 onwards as the tarmac between Bretelle Nord and Muizon has been removed. Les Amis du Circuit de Gueux (a non-profit organization) is working to preserve the old pit building, grandstands and other remaining structures of the circuit and actively support historic meetings which use the 1952 Circuit d'Essais.