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The Vila Real International Circuit is born from a dream and a passion …

Gaspar Sameiro –Foto de Biblioteca de Arte/Art Library – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (, Fotógrafo: Estúdio Horácio Novais
Gas­par Sa­mei­ro – Pho­to Art Li­brary – Fun­da­ção Ca­lous­te Gul­ben­ki­an, Pho­to­grapher: Es­tú­dio Ho­rá­cio No­vais

By Pau­la La­ma­res

It is known that pas­si­on mo­ves dre­ams and as far as the In­ter­na­ti­o­nal Cir­cuit of Vila Real was the re­sult of a pas­si­on from a group of Vi­la­re­a­len­ses, led by Au­re­li­a­no de Al­mei­da Bar­ri­gas – who father, Ma­nu­el Lo­pes Bar­ri­gas was the lo­cal re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ve of Ford , The de­le­ga­te of the Au­to­mo­bi­le Club of Por­tu­gal Luís Ta­bo­a­da and the mayor at the time, Emí­dio Ro­que Sil­vei­ra. They had a dre­am to­gether: to cre­a­te a city cir­cuit and bring the ra­ces” to Vila Real.

It all starts with a group of car enthu­si­asts who or­ga­ni­ze gymkha­na, small au­to­mo­bi­le skills, ele­gan­ce con­tests and auto shows du­ring the se­cond de­ca­de of the 20th cen­tury. In 1931 took pla­ce the 1st edi­ti­on of the Mo­tor Cir­cuit of Vila Real, car­ri­ed out by the com­mis­si­on that or­ga­ni­zes the City Par­ti­es.

As the idea had been thought be­fo­re, from 1930 a meat’s tax was laun­ched in Vila Real in or­der to rai­se some mo­ney to co­ver the costs that the or­ga­ni­za­ti­on of the tests en­tai­led.

1936 Adler – Foto arquivo ACP
1936 Adler – Pho­to ar­qui­vo ACP

Thus, and also coun­ting on the sup­port of the Re­gi­o­nal Sec­ti­on of the North of the Au­to­mo­bi­le Club of Por­tu­gal, in 1931 the first Vila Real Mo­tor Cir­cuit” was for­med, with a to­tal length of 7,150 me­ters, com­pe­ti­tors would have to com­ple­te 20 laps, whi­ch was a to­tal of 143 ki­lo­me­ters.

For the te­ch­ni­cal checks, the park” took pla­ce in Jar­dim da Car­rei­ra. The mat­ch would be made in the sty­le of Bro­o­klands,” whe­re the ri­ders were li­ned up on one side of the goal area, and had to run to the cars that were par­ked to work on the other side, and then le­a­ve. One of the ma­jor pro­blems of the cir­cuit was the dust cau­sed by the dirt flo­or, with the pro­blems of vi­si­bi­lity inhe­rent:

I’m happy be­cau­se I made the race without dus­ting my­self; I clo­sed the win­dows of the ca­bri­o­let, lo­a­ded the ac­ce­le­ra­tor … and ar­ri­ved first. It was all I wan­ted, es­pe­ci­ally not pic­king up a lot of dust ” Gas­par Sa­mei­ro, in” O Vo­lan­te “.

The Internationalization …

In 1936, the in­ter­na­ti­o­na­li­za­ti­on came, with the par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on of fo­reign dri­vers, as well as the pa­ving of the en­ti­re rou­te in tar. It was the time in whi­ch Bu­gat­ti 35 C /​51, the Alfa Ro­meo 6C and 8C and Ford V8 sho­ne. Of note is that in 1936 the film­ma­ker Ma­no­el de Oli­vei­ra ran in Vila Real with a BMW315.

1969 Partida (foto coleção – João Lacerda)
1969 Start (foto co­le­ci­ton – João La­cer­da)

With World War II, car ra­ces are dis­con­ti­nu­ed in Vila Real all over the world, and only re­turn to Vila Real in 1949. In 1950 the me­tal brid­ge over the Cor­go ri­ver star­ted to be fi­xed, but al­ter­na­ti­vely the ra­ces went th­rough the brid­ge and neigh­borho­od of San­ta Mar­ga­ri­da, whi­ch re­cei­ved for this pur­po­se a com­pac­ted sand flo­or. The fol­lowing year, with the in­ter­ven­ti­ons on the brid­ge com­ple­ted, the Cir­cuit re­tur­ned to its ori­gi­nal layout, re­cei­ving the 7th edi­ti­on of the Mo­torcy­cle Cir­cuit of Vila Real”.

In the late 1950s, Vila Real got big na­mes from in­ter­na­ti­o­nal mo­tors­port, such as Ni­cha Ca­bral, Da­vid Pi­per, Sir Stir­ling Moss and Ma­ria Te­re­sa de Fi­lip­pis, who le­a­ve the pu­blic at he­art with their per­for­man­ce and their ma­chi­nes.

Af­ter an eight-year in­ter­reg­num, in 1966 the en­gi­nes were he­ard again in Vila Real, with the Tou­ring and For­mu­las being the Race Kings, and the ave­ra­ge spe­ed to be pla­ced on the 152,570 km /​h mark. Howe­ver, the co­rol­lary of the pro­gram is the For­mu­la 3 Ra­ces, in whi­ch the Por­tu­gue­se par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on le­vel stands out Car­los Gas­par (still to­day holds the cir­cuit spe­ed re­cord: 178.171kms /​h).

1968 is a year of ecs­tasy in Vila Real: the Ra­ces run in the DNA of the Vila Re­a­len­ses, who prou­dly do everything to pro­vi­de the best pos­si­ble stay for dri­vers and fo­reig­ners who ar­ri­ve in Vila Real. It was that year that some im­pro­ve­ments were in­tro­du­ced on the track: the bo­xes were re­lo­ca­ted about 300m forward, new rails were pla­ced, and a lar­ge ben­ch was built in the pit area, whi­ch hou­ses more than a thou­sand pe­o­ple.

In 1969 an en­du­ran­ce run was or­ga­ni­zed for the class of Sport, that ob­tains the done of 28 subs­cri­bers: the Six hours of Vila Real”, in whi­ch the Lola T70 of Mike De Udy, the Pors­che 908 of Da­vid Pi­per and the Ford GT 40 by Car­los Gas­par, made one of the most be­au­ti­ful front li­nes ever. It was also this year that the Na­ti­o­nal Sports Com­mis­si­on es­ta­blished the ca­te­gory of Se­ri­es Tou­rism”, whi­ch brought to­gether a lar­ge num­ber of par­ti­ci­pants and was led by Alfa Ro­meo 1750 by An­tó­nio Pei­xi­nho.

The golden age … the fall .… And the rebirth from ashes.

We were in the gol­den age of the Cir­cuit of Vila Real. in the 71, 72 and 73´s edi­ti­ons, the ra­ces brought to Vila Real do­zens of fo­reign dri­vers, li­ving a highly com­pe­ti­ti­ve spi­rit, with big cars and du­els in track, whi­ch lead the Vila-re­a­len­se crowd to ecs­tasy. 1973 was the year in whi­ch the­re are se­ve­ral Por­tu­gue­se win­ners in all ca­te­go­ri­es.

Howe­ver, the oil cri­sis is le­a­ding the go­vern­ment to prohi­bit mo­tor ra­cing, whi­ch, with the 1974 re­vo­lu­ti­on, and other fac­tors of mo­der­nity” le­ads to the re­ta­king of the evi­den­ce in Vila Real in 1979. , No lon­ger with the bril­li­an­ce and ma­gic of the gol­de.

Betwe­en 2007 and 2010, new at­tempts are made to re­sus­ci­ta­te the Cir­cuit, this time with a new layout, but the poor Por­tu­gue­se eco­no­mic en­vi­ron­ment dic­ta­tes the fai­lu­re.

In the year 2014 A.P.C.I.V.R. (As­so­ci­a­ti­on of Pro­mo­ters of the In­ter­na­ti­o­nal Cir­cuit of Vila Real) is foun­ded, and it is with this team, in part­nership with the Mu­ni­ci­pa­lity of Vila Real and the Mo­tor Club of Vila Real that marks the re­turn of the Ra­ces to Vila Real whi­ch is, by far, the Por­tu­gue­se city, with gre­a­ter mys­ti­que and tra­di­ti­on lin­ked to Mo­tor Sports.

Ac­tu­al layout re­cord without the chi­ca­ne”: Gon­ça­ço Araú­jo 149′‘860 (Ra­di­cal)


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