“Just a normal sand dune, a hill of loose sand, right?”
So nothing extraordinary you might think, just a normal sand dune. But let me explain how it could be that there are so much emotions hidden in this bulk of sand. This dune is the holy ground where I, and many with me, experienced their first portion of real life motorsports. I still remember how I saw a leaflet of the Malboro Masters in a snackbar one day and taking it with me to show my dad. I never thought he would take me there, but I could try right! And so we planned to go to the Marlboro Masters at the track of Zandvoort.
My first time there it was a lot to take in.. after surviving the traffic jams, driving through the rich villages surrounding Zandvoort, we arrived at the boulevard of Zandvoort. There was not so much glamour here, opposed to the things I had seen on TV. The Grand Prix of Monaco was my benchmark of how all motorsports where supposed to be in real life. In my head it was all glitter, glamour, fast cars and courageous drivers pushing their cars to the limits.
“Monaco is a very special place and my favorite of the year”
When we finally parked our car, we headed to the track and walked to enter the holy circuit grounds. I immediately felt excited and sort of ‘at home’ when we got behind the gates. I could already hear some sounds from the first sessions that morning, as we were late because of the traffic.
I saw an enormous (for my standards as a young kid) stand appear when we got closer to the track. As I walked in the direction of the stand, my dad told me we had to walk a little further. We didn’t have the money for those expensive tickets, he told me, we are seated on the dune next to the grandstand. I didn’t ask any questions, I only wanted to see the track action.
We got to the dune, which looked huge to me, and climbed our way up to find a perfect seat. This would be our place for the whole day, so we better look for a good spot. We found a spot we liked and placed our backpack strategically so we could lean against it and started enjoying the cars going round on the track. The highlight that day was a demo of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team. I got goosebumps on my arm from those screaming engines, a feeling that I will never ever forget.
“One day you will get there”
I’ve spend a lot of time over there on that sand dune with my dad. Every now and again we would go to Zandvoort to see Marlboro Masters, DTM, A1GP and many other races. Always at that same sand dune. Most of the times we brought binoculars with us, to see the action going on in the pitlane and the paddock. There where all those people walking there, so close to the action. I thought you had to be very rich to get there, but my dad told me: “One day, you will get there. If you want it bad enough.” I couldn’t comprehend what he meant at that time.
But a few years ago, I got to take my dad to a DTM race at Zandvoort and show him around the paddock. We got to the inside of the Tarzan corner and looked at the dune ‘from the other side’. We talked about what he told me about ‘Getting there one day’. We were silent for a while and enjoyed the sound of the cars going round, mesmerized by the beauty of it and we were just looking at the dune where it all began.
Now the dune is being demolished, but for a greater good: May 3rd 2020, Zandvoort will host the Dutch Grand Prix again for the first time in 25 years. To accommodate all the visitors, the organisation will have to make the track ready, such as place lot of new stands to fit the crowds.This will mostly happen on places where people normally sat on one of these historical dunes. Of course I will miss looking at the dune where I used to sit, but the amazing childhood memories stay with me. Just like I’ve never thought I’d ever be getting to ‘the inside’ of the track, I also never thought that a Grand Prix at Zandvoort would even be an option again in the current climate!
How nice a thought is it that at the place of the sand dune, a completely new stand will rise up. A stand that will give room to fans and families who will create their first Motorsport memories like I once did, an experience they will remember forever. And how lucky are they to immediately have a hero from their home country for cheer for in the name of Max Verstappen.
Some say: The only constant is change. So change is good if you want to move forward, I’m sure the organisation of The Dutch Grand Prix will give the dune a great successor.