Address: Autódromo Jorge Angel Pena, San Martin, Mendoza, Argentina
Circuit type: Permanent road course
The Autódromo Ciudad de San Martín-Mendoza - perhaps better known these days as Circuito Jorge Ángel Pena, has come a long way from more humble beginnings in the 1970s to being among the fastest tracks in Argentina today.
The circuit began in much smaller form in 1978, when a 1.602km circuit first opened for business, built by the Asociación de Volantes del Este. The circuit was relatively small and unremarkable and it was not until extensive renovations in 1994 that it began its rise to greater prominence. The catalyst was the rise of the TC 2000 touring car series, which was fast becoming a major force on the Argentine racing scene.
To accommodate the need for a longer circuit, more than 1km was added, including a new sweeping Turn 1, which led in turn to equally quick second corner. Revisions were also made to the final turns, which were in effect squared off. The upgraded facility got its reward in 1996, when Juan María Traverso won the TC2000 encounter in a Peugeot 405. It proved a one-off, however, with the TC2000 series moving away the next year.
Opportunity began to present itself once again however, when the General San Martín circuit was mothballed in 1997 after local funding was pulled in a favour of more modern circuits. Now with the primary circuit in Mendoza gone, seemingly never to return, a second refurbishment of Circuito Jorge Ángel Pena was on the cards. The back straight was extended to create a new lap length of 3.385km and various sections were widened and turns accordingly modified.
TC2000 made its return once the renovations were complete - and this time it became a permanent fixture on the calendar. Drivers such as Matias Rossi, Gabriel Ponce de León, Norberto Fontana and José María López all secured victories here.
That wasn't the end of the changes, however, as further modifications would come at the end of 2011, with the intention of capturing a round of the historic Turismo Carretera series. This saw the building of a new extension featuring a banked final 'Peraltada' corner, alongside some further changes to Turns One and Two. The result is the current incarnation of the circuit, which is a high speed blast from start to finish.
The Circuito Jorge Ángel Pena is located at San Martín in Mendoza Province, Argentina. The nearest international airport is the Governor Francisco Gabrielli International Airport in the city of Mendoza, around 45 minutes' drive to the west of the circuit.
The circuit is located directly alongside Highway 7, which links Mendoza and San Martín. From Mendoza, head along RN7 until you reach the junction with Route 63 on the immediate outskirts of San Martín. Turn right onto Route 63 and continue to the next junction, turning right onto Route 60 towards Palmira. After a short distance, turn right again onto Florida, and continue along this road to the circuit entrance. Unfortunately, there are few if any direction signs along the route, so you will be well advised to take a map or use sat nav!
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