Spa remains a track for all the ages
By Alan Baldwin
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS Belgium (Reuters) - Eau Rouge, Pouhon, Blanchimont - for Formula One fans the names stand out as the jewels in the glittering crown that is the Spa circuit.
For those of an older generation, however, it is the memories of Burnenville, Malmedy and Masta - with its famous 'kink' - that still make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck.
Beyond the current 7 km Belgian grand prix circuit, the longest on the calendar, the fearsome remnants of the old 15km loop remain in daily use.
Those driving to Sunday's race can literally take a trip down memory lane, with the flow of traffic passing over the same public roads that once gave a cruel sport some of its deadliest thrills.
The current crop of drivers will discuss the challenge of taking the plunging, twisting, rising Eau Rouge flat out but the old, disused, layout had parts that were every bit as breathtaking.
"The Masta Kink was the famous one, Burnenville... virtually every corner here was pretty dangerous," recalls veteran reporter Mike Doodson, who covered his first grand prix at the old Spa in 1970 and is still coming back for more.
"You've only got to go out there now and see the obstacles that were there. I came a couple of days early that year and drove around the circuit and was completely horrified.
"At one place I remember, the only protection on the outside of the circuit was a single strand of barbed wire, just about neck height for a driver in a Formula One car." Continued...