After the year 2021 without visiting my sister Florence in Zug in Switzerland, I finally returned to the Confoederatio Helvetica in March 2022. I stayed over a week. More than a family visit, I organised an excursion to French-speaking Switzerland, also known as Romandy to visit Maxime and the vineyards of Lavaux in the canton of Vaud, near Lausanne. I also booked a journey on the world-famous Glacier Express from Sankt Moritz to Brig. Furthermore, I looked for a nice way in and out. The ÖBB Nightjet night train from Amsterdam to Zurich and the voyage home via Lyon in France.
As the Nightjet departed Amsterdam Central Station at 8.28 PM, I decided to leave Antwerp early and go to Zandvoort. Zandvoort, ‘Amsterdam Beach’, is home to Circuit Zandvoort, the Netherlands‘ premier racetrack.
Zandvoort is located in the province of North Holland. It is one of the major beach resorts of the Netherlands. As such, it functioned as ‘Amsterdam Beach‘.
It has a long sandy beach. It is bordered by coastal dunes of Zuid-Kennemerland National Park and the Amsterdam water supply dunes.
The municipality of extends to take in Bentveld; it had a population of 16,954 in 2017. A nudist bathing section of the beach begins about 2 km to the south, with six eateries, which extends kilometers further.
Zandvoort is known to exist in 1100, called Sandevoerde. Until 1722 the area was under the control of the Lords of Brederode. The village was dependent on fishing for many centuries until the 19th century when it started to transform itself into a seaside resort, following the pattern set by similar towns in the United Kingdom. In 1828 the first resort was inaugurated. Thereafter many notable persons would visit Zandvoort, including Elisabeth of Bavaria, empress of Austria in 1884 and 1885. In the middle of the same century, potato cultivation started in the dunes.
In 1881 the railway station near the coast opened, followed by tram connection to Haarlem in 1899, which greatly increased the beach tourism. In 1905 one of the earliest Dutch fictional films was shot in the town, ‘De mésaventure van een Fransch heertje zonder pantalon aan het strand te Zandvoort‘.
During World War II, Zandvoort was heavily damaged. On May 23, 1942, beach access was no longer permitted and several months later the town was almost completely vacated. Resorts and avenues were demolished to make way for the coastal fortifications of the Atlantic Wall.
After the war, the town’s growth accelerated, matching the growth in tourism.
About Circuit Zandvoort
Circuit Zandvoort is the home of the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix, which has been held on and off since 1950, the inaugural year of the world championship. After some 25 years of absence, it returned to the calendar in 2021, thanks to the popularity of 2021 world champion Max Verstappen.
It is owned by Bernhard, Prince of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven.
Currently the circuit is 4.259 km (2.646 mi) long.
I mailed advance to know if I could get in. Yes! There was a track day going on, so the pits were off-limits, but the main grandstand and the pit building were open. These give a good view on the pit straight, the start and finish line, Turn 1 (Tarzanbocht), Turn 2 (Gerlachbocht), Turn 3 (Hugenholtzbocht) Turns 11 and 12 (Hans Ernst Bocht) and the banked Turn 14 (Arie Luyendyk Bocht).
You can go on the roof of the pit building for nice views. You can look inside the VIP lounges. There a sim racing area: Racesquare. I didn’t do that because I’m not skillful enough. A consequence of my handicap.
I did pee in a nicely tiled toilet. There’s also a sports bar: Mickey’s.
It was a track day so it was not empty There were quite a few people around. People loving speed, people pretending to be racing drivers, teen boys and young men in trackies. A lot of testosterone, but the slightly richer kind.
I’m happy I came. I will look at the Dutch Grand Prix differently now I’ve been. Zandvoort is quite small, almost cosy. The dunes create a stadium, bowl-like feel. A great atmosphere.