1977 Belgian Grand Prix

Terlamen-Zolder, June 5th

The Days when the Grand Prix de Belgique was a great occasion, set in the majestic countryside of the Ardenne forests, still linger, and by comparison the rowdy, almost bawdy, fun-fair of Formula One and its travelling circus, somehow seems much more suited to something called “De Grote Prijs van Belgie” held in the “mickey-mouse” confines of the artificial track in the woods of Limburg, within sight of the coal mines, canals and motorways of industrial Belgium. The “razz-ma-tazz” and “ballyhoo” of Formula One would be completely out of place in the beautiful countryside in south-east Belgium, around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, while the rubbish, filth and waste left by the “circus” and its campfollowers when they move on to the next “site”, would leave a nasty scar on one of the more attractive parts of Belgium. In consequence, perhaps it is just as well that when the businessmen changed “Grand Prix” into “Formula One” their employees did not find the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to their liking and abandoned it after 1970. That the “circus” are not totally happy at their present camp-site, and show no inclination to encourage the revival of the concrete edifice at Nivelles-Baulers, is indicated by continual talk of a smaller and shorter circuit at Spa-Francorchamps, using the pits, paddock and starting area as the basis.

The race organisers and the Constructors Association were quite happy to open the race to “members and a limited number of friends” but quite a lot of non-members and unattached drivers wanted to have a go at qualifying for the 24 positions allocated to the starting grid. Fortunately these “outsiders” had a good “legal-eagle” on their side, who could read clearly the small print in the FIA Yellow Book, where it said that race organisers must allow any reasonable applicant the opportunity to try for a place on the grid. So 32 drivers were ready for practice on Friday morning, the narrow pit lane was hopelessly overcrowded, like Brands Hatch and Silverstone used to be, and the luckless ones did not even have a pit to operate from, but had to camp-out on the grass and sand towards the first corner after the pits. “Like being on Skegness beach” remarked Brian Henton as his mechanics tried to keep sand out of their toolboxes. Others eyed the Armco safety barriers and catch-fences behind them ironically, wondering who had decided to set up the over-flow pits in a danger area. It must have been a danger area, or why have Armco and catch-fences!

Race Results


Circuit - Zolder




Heusden-Zolder, Limburg


Permanent road course


2.648 (Miles)


Rene Arnoux (Ferrari 126C4), 1m19.294, 120.221 mph, F1, 1984

First Race

1963 Zolder ETCC