PICTURES OF THE OLD FINNISH GP TRACK(taken May 2000, May 2003)
ELÄINTARHARATA/DJURGÅRDSBANAN - Helsinki (FIN)Type: Park circuit
Length: 2.000 km
Location: Eläintarha/Djurgården, a park in downtown Helsinki.
Used: 1932 - 1963
Finland's first and only real Grand Prix track was located in a park in central Helsinki. The main straight with pits, start and finish went parallel to the railway bank making a unique arrangement possible. A special train was built as a grandstand and moved with spectators from the railway station to its place near the track on race day. From the main straight the track went downhill through the kiosk section before coming down to the street in a sharp right hander. Circling the city greenhouses the track made another right hander, the wrongly banked kuolemankurva (the death curve). The track continued uphill, passing close to the Olympic stadium (built 1936-38) before turning left at the Olympic swimming stadium (built 1939-47) and going sharply downhill in a blind S-bend known as moukaripörssi (hammer ring). This proved to be an eventful bend with no room for mistakes. Leaving the track to the left the car would go down a slope ending up at the hammer ring. Passing the Eläintarha sports field, that also functioned as the paddock, the cars came to Nordenskiöld street where a last right hander returned the cars to the main straight.
The first race, known just as "Suomen Suurajot" (Finnish Grand Prix), was held in 1932. 40.000 spectators turned up to see Swede Widengren win in a Mercedes. For 1933 some changes were made to the track, ending it up with a length of exactly 2000 meters. The name of the races were also changed to Eläintarhanajot (Djurgårdsloppet in Swedish). A Mercedes was once again the winning car, but this time the driver was Ebb, scoring a popular home win that he repeated in 1935. Norwegian Björnstad also won the race twice, 1934 and 1936 and Hans Rüesch attended the 1937 race with his Alfa Romeo, taking an easy victory as Björnstad entered an Voiturette ERA. There was no race in 1938 as it should have clashed with a big airshow at the new Helsinki air field.
For 1939 the organizers threw out a feeler to see if they could attract the German teams to the race. Auto Union wasn't interested at all and Mercedes found the practice sessions too short and victory prizes too small. The last pre-war race got a surprise winner as the almost unknown Westerholm took an old Alfa Romeo Monza to victory. The races continued after the war, 1946 for motorcycles only and from 1947 onwards also for cars, culminating in the early 50s with the visits of Belgian driver Laurent with a Talbot Lago Formula one car. Thereafter it was mostly F3 and sports cars until the last race in 1963. The reason the races were stopped was because of the noise but it is also doubtful that the track could have been used more than one or two years further without major upgrading of the safety arrangements.