Circuit type: Temporary closed road course
Perhaps the most famous of the traditional European road circuits - and certainly among the fastest - the Reims circuit was located near to the village of Gueux in the Champagne region of France.
The essentially triangular circuit was laid out on ordinary country roads, including the flat out blast of the RN31, which provided a straight to rival the Mulsanne at Le Mans.
Run by the flamboyant Raymond 'Toto' Roche for the Automobile Club de Champagne, Reims enjoyed great slipstreaming battles on the track, and the support of enthusiastic organisers off it. Unusually for a temporary road course, the circuit boasted proper pit facilities and grandstands opposite.
By 1952, race organisers had decided to bypass the village of Gueux, building a new link road to connect the start/finish straight with the Virage de la Hovette. This was the first stage of an extended, permanent section of road for racing only and even involved the demolition of several houses.
A further extension was made in 1953, up to a new hairpin bend leading onto RN31, while the last major modifications came before the 1954 season, when both then Muizon hairpin and the Thillois corners were re-profiled and made much faster. This then created the final, classic layout of the Reims circuit, which saw the track rise to prominence as France's premier circuit through the 1960s.
Host to the French Grand Prix, Reims witnessed some epic slipstreaming races. It also played host to an international 12-hour sportscar race at the French Grand Prix meetings, alongside many national categories.
The last F1 race was in 1966 (won by Jack Brabham), with sportscars continuing until the following year and Formula 2 until 1969. Motorcycle races then formed the mainstay ifor the next three years.
Competition from other circuits and financial and political difficulties finally closed the track in 1972. The grandstands and decaying pit garages still remain by the roadside as a poignant reminder to the speed aces of the past.
Les Amis du Circuit de Gueux (a non-profit organization) is working to preserve the old pit building, grandstands and other remaining structures of the circuit, with the aim of actively supporting the resumption of historic meetings on the 1952 version of the circuit.
The Circuit de Reims is located on the D26 road from Reims to Gueux in the Champagne region of France.
Since the circuit’s closure, there have been numerous changes to the local road infrastructure, though much of the basic public road remains, as do the former grandstands and pit buildings.
Upgrading of the RN31 to dual carriageway means that the former straight between Muizon and Thillois is now much wider, though it follows the original course, though Thillois is now a large roundabout. It is still possible to drive a lap around the (more or less) original 1926 version through the center of Gueux and the 1952 variant of the circuit, except for the old Garenne junction, which was demolished as part of the RN31 modernization.
It is no longer possible to complete a lap of the circuit used from 1953 onwards as the tarmac between Bretelle Nord and Muizon has been removed and ends in an open field. Alongside the road in the stretch is a small monument to pioneering Franco-Austrian racer Annie Bousquet who died in a crash on the approach to Muizon in 1956 12 Hours race.