This Sunday will mark the 75th anniversary of the Hungarian Grand Prix, an event held since…1986. Fifty years before Formula One came to the Hungaroring, there was a Grand Prix race in downtown Budapest with 100,000 people in attendance. The Silver Arrows came. Scuderia Ferrari came. Three-quarters of a century later, we took a walk around Népliget Circuit’s beautiful, abandoned curves.
I first learned of Hungary’s pre-Hungaroring Grand Prix past at a house party hosted by my friend and Jalopnik contributor Erik D’Amato, who had a poster in his apartment advertising the 1936 Hungarian Grand Prix (below). It showed something painted rosso corsa, the outline of Gellért Hill, and the flags of Hungary and the Royal Hungarian Automobile Club. Contrary to what the poster might suggest to those familiar with Budapest’s geography, the track did not trace the Danube’s shores, but was purpose-built for the Grand Prix inside a vast, gloomy park called Népliget (“People’s Park”).