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Circuits of the past

Remember the motor racing circuits of the past!

The street circuit of Pedralbes

This page tells the story about the fast street circuit in Pedralbes, a district of Barcelona. On this typical racetrack, riders passed particular architecture while driving at high speed on the long straights...

The origination of the street circuit of Pedralbes

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 to Pedralbes 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.

Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona

The layout of the Pedralbes race track

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 lay out was not very challenging the fast circuit was very popular by the drivers and the spectators.

Map Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona
The lay out of the circuit. Click on the map for a lap.

The Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes

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.

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.

Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona

In 1951 the race was counting for the Formula 1 World Championship, it was the first official Formula 1 race in Spain. In 1954 Formula 1 came back at Pedralbes after two years with no Spanish Grand Prix.

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For this event a small change to the circuit was made which brought the length now at 6,333 km (3.958 Miles). It should be the last race at Pedralbes ...

Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona

The end of the Pedralbes street 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 of Pedralbes which was never used again.

Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona

The old street circuit of Pedralbes 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 freeway.

Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona

Avinguda d'Esplugues has now become a city highway with tunnels. The section with the fast kinks is almost unchanged, only at the first kink is now a roundabout.

Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona
A roundabout at the most challenging section of the former street circuit!

Pedralbes street circuit Barcelona - Avinguda Diagonal
The tramway at the Avinguda Diagonal.

© Text & photos: Herman Liesemeijer

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