1972 Austrian Grand Prix

Osterreichring, Zeltweg, August 13th.

It is easy to forget that the permanent race-track, built on virgin soil in the hills overlooking the village of ZeItweg, was opened only three years ago, in the middle of 1969 to be exact, and that the first International race was the 1000 kilometre Sports Car event held in the Autumn of that year. Even before the third Austrian Grand Prix took place on August 13th, with practice on the preceding Friday and Saturday, there was a feeling of attending an established “classic” Grand Prix. Everyone had entered, everyone turned up, and the overall feeling was one of satisfaction all round, a feeling added to by the Austrian weather, which was superb. Some new events on the International calendar seem to take many years before they are accepted or before they form any character of their own, but the Austrian Grand Prix has achieved all this in its third year of existence on the Osterreichring. There was a Formula One race on the old airfield circuit in 1963, and a World Championship event in 1964, when the Austrians were told by the FIA that they were well capable of putting on a Grande Epreuve, but the Zeltweg airfield was not the place to do it. “Leave it to us”, said the KnitteIfeld section of the Austrian Motor Sport Club. Three years later the land had been purchased, a year later the bulldozers were at work and in 1969 the first race was held. As far as the Grand Prix is concerned it has but two years of history and already they have become classics, prompting people to say, “Do you remember when . . . “. Will we ever forget 1970 when Ferraris were first and second and the enormous crowd of visiting Italians besieged the paddock; wave after wave of Ferrari enthusiasts descending from the hills, each with its Ferrari flag ? No sooner had the cheering died down than a new wave would arrive and the siege of Ickx and Regazzoni started up again. One seasoned Grand Prix follower likened it to a mediaeval war! “Banners held high, the victorious cheering mob marched on.” Up to midnight after the race Italian registered cars could be seen heading home, the occupants cheering and waving as they carried the news of the great victory back to Italy. And 1971? Good old Siffert (God rest his soul) led from start to finish in a BRM, and his enormous following of central European enthusiasts kept the beer tents ringing with Swiss songs until well after dark. And his dear old mother was there to see it all, weeping tears of joy at Joseph’s great victory. Such is the bitter irony of life, and especially our sport, that weeks later we were all weeping tears of sadness at Joseph’s death at Brands Hatch. He may not grow old, but we shall remember him, and the Osterreichring will remember him.

Already, in only its third year, the Austrian Grand Prix is accepted by everyone. Already it is a classic event that no-one wants to miss. Probably it is due to there being nothing before, unlike the new Paul Ricard circuit, which has to justify being the replacement for Reims, Rouen or Clermont-Ferrand, or the Belgian Nivelles circuit, which has to justify being the replacement for Spa-Francorchamps. Even the Jarama circuit has to justify its alternate replacement for Barcelona, and the rebuilt Hockenheimring tries to justify being the replacement or Nurburgring and the Solitude circuit. The Osterreichring does not have to justify itself, its whole conception was right from the start, and the more people who visit it the more people realize that true Grand Prix racing does not have to follow the clinical and dull dictates that originate from America and produce such “marvels” as the Paul Ricard circuit in France, and the Nivelles circuit in Belgium. Maybe I do “bang on” a bit on this subject, but I believe in European Grand Prix racing that was born on the road, and I will fight to the last foot of Armco barrier to defend what I feel is right, and for me the Ostereichring is right, in a truly modern context.

Race Results


Circuit - Osterreichring




Spielberg, Styria


Permanent road course


3.673 (Miles)


Jacky Ickx (Alfa Romeo T33TT/12), 1m35.81, 138.011 mph, Sports Cars, 1974