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

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Gaspar Sameiro –Foto de Biblioteca de Arte/Art Library – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (https://www.flickr.com/photos/biblarte/), 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 1’49′‘860 (Rad­i­cal)

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