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 – 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 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)
GUERRA, Carlos, Circuito de Vila Real 1931–1973, Edições Vintage, Lda., 2004.