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1961: A Singapore Grand Prix for the Eternity

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 | Sports

12. September 2017 – 7:56 pm

The Grand Prix history of Singapore does not begin with the night spectacle

© xpb.cc

(cafetheology.org) – The Grand Prix of Singapore, which has been on the calendar since 2008, is often described as the toughest of all Formula One races. No wonder, because the course will never leave the Formula 1 stars with their 23 corners to rest, plus the enormous humidity and high temperatures. And for those who do not have enough, it is almost two hours behind the longest race of the season. Many drivers and fans do not know that the night race on the Singapore Street Circuit was not the first Grand Prix in the city which took place around 56 km of the air line from today's Formula One circuit 56 years ago, was a breathtaking ride on the razor blade, which lasted for more than two hours. At that time, the first Grand Prix of Singapore, which did not have a Formula One status at the time, was staged on the Thompson Road Grand Prix circuit. The actors were not the European racing heroes, but the stars of the scene. Again and again, exotics from the old continent and from the USA also ventured into the adventure. How it came to the Grand Prix of Singapore in 1961. How did it come about that Singapore's first Grand Prix was played from 1961 to 1973? The government already wanted to boost tourism. Under the motto "Visit Singapore – the Oriental Year", the Ministry of Culture in 1961 made funds to promote major events. And even then there was a motor sport tradition in Singapore through the British influence. The country's car club organized monthly authorship and had the idea of ​​a Grand Prix. The time was deliberately set for the weekend from September 15 to 17, as the teams had enough time to join the classic in Macao two months later , And the popularity was enormous: there were enough teams for nine races – four of them were carried out with motorcycles. A total of 200 pilots gave a nomination for the competitions. First Singapore Grand Prix as a spectator hit

The Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit was full of spectacular curves

© smg / Readro, CC BY-SA 2.5

As a venue, you had no city course, but a spectacular circular course on the outskirts. The spectators came in masses: 60,000 to 100,000 people provided an excellent atmosphere at the premiere, which was also due to the low ticket prices: a grandstand ticket was available for nine dollars, for a stand-by ticket you had to spend only one dollar. The rush was so great that the chain-link fences were torn down. Already after the second race, the police had to make a ticket sales stop in two areas of the audience because the crowds were too big. The audience, however, got their money's worth: The route was "unique", describes the author from Singapore, Eli Solomon, the in his book "Snakes & Devils" the history of the race from 1961 to 1973 worked, the 4.865 kilometer course. "This narrow stretch of road lanes and lampposts, on which there was often the worst possible weather, was definitely not for the faint of heart." And while the current course is a series of 90-degree bends, the old circuit is outpouring from the Federal Road Thompson Road through the dense tropical forest, through a total of nine curves and many uphill and downhill passages. A jumping hill with a slight bend on the start-finish straight, which reminds of the airfield passage on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, and a chicane erected by sandscots were part of the spectacle. Deadly danger: From the "Murder Mile" to the "Devil's Bend "Since the boxing building and the grandstands were rebuilt each year for the race, there is very little recollection today of the race, which was temporarily carried out from 1962 to 1965 as a Grand Prix of Malaysia by the integration into the federation Malaysia. Nevertheless, the circuit on which Formula-Libre regulations – ie open technical rules – were driven, is still fully preserved. And the names of the "snakes" or "Devil's Bend" (the Devil's Curve) indicate how things went about it. After the Haarnadel after the start and finish, the "Murder Mile" Mile), a high-speed passage that invites you to gas. "Many racers thought it was a simple kink and accelerated," remembers the 71-year-old Lee Chiu San, who took part in the last three editions of the race, against 'Asia One'. "But some of them got off the line, so they could kill the 'Murder Mile'." What sounds like exaggeration has always been tragically true. Deadly racing is the reason for the need to have a seat in Singapore. In its eleven-year history, the race cost seven pilots. In 1972, Lionel Chan, nephew of the local hero Chan Lye Choon. The car dealer flew the second time with his Brabham BT 16 in the fastest track passage, which bore the name Long Loop, and crashed into a parking car. He was thrown out of the car because he did not have seat belts, and he suffered serious head injuries. Even the rescue helicopter could not save him. The black series nevertheless stopped: One year later the Swiss Joe Huber killed fatally. He thundered into a linemaster. "These are sad stories," ex-participant Lee Chiu San looks back. "No one has forced us to take part in this race." The fact that the accidents increased was not surprising, because the cars were also getting faster: during the one of Chan Lye Choon in a Lola-Climax And a lap record of 1: 54.9 minutes with an average speed of 152 km / h. At the wheel of the Birrana Formula 2 racing car was the Australian racing driver Leo Gheoghegan. As a participant back then won the Grand Prix in 2008

Ex-participant and promoter Colin Syn (right) took the race back

© cafetheology.org

He set a record for eternity, because after the tragic accidents the race after 1973 was no longer carried out. And so the Singaporeans had to be patient for a long time before the Grand Prix circus returned to the city state in 2008. Interestingly, there is indeed a link between the then race and the Glamor Grand Prix of the modern era – because the current promoter of the night race, Colin Syn, took part in a BMW touring car on the Thompson Road Grand Prix circuit in a BMW touring car in 1970 and 1973. The man from Singapore, who spent his studies in Great Britain and became a Jim Clark fan, tried to persuade Bernie Ecclestone to return the Grand Prix to Singapore in the late 1980s. It is no wonder that for more than half a century, a dream came true for him in 2008.

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