60 years of the Macau Grand Prix

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As the Macau Grand Prix celebrates its diamond jubilee this year, Mark Tjhung and Philip Newsome look back at the iconic moments and legendary winners of the race’s 60 year history. Photos courtesy Macau GP Committee

There’s often a bizarre story behind the origin of long-running, events. And in the case of the Macau Grand Prix – which celebrates its 60th anniversary when the 2013 edition kicks off on Saturday November 9 – it begins with a ‘treasure hunt’. As legend has it, a group of Macau motoring enthusiasts conceived this event as a fun way to explore the city streets, before it was suggested that the event could, instead, by a fully fledged Grand Prix. 

Since its inaugural race in 1954, the GP – which is held annually on Macau’s Guia street circuit – has grown from an amateur event to becoming the world’s most prestigious Formula 3 race and earning a reputation as the place to see tomorrow’s big names. 

With the help of Philip Newsome, author of several books about the GP including the just released The Macau Grand Prix at 60: A Diamond Celebration (available at blueflagpress.com), and aided by some historic photos dug out of the archives, Time Out looks back at the race’s legends, iconic moments and evolution during its 60 years…

Martin Redfern wins 1960 


This shows the 1960 winner Martin Redfern in the iconic Jaguar XKSS, a car which had also won the previous year. Professional drivers were still some years away. Note the bamboo barriers in place at the time, rather than any metal ARMCO safety barriers around the circuit.

The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix first runs 1967 

When the Motorcycle GP debuted in 1967, it made the Macau race the only event in the world where top level bike racers shared the programme with cars. The Motorcycle Grand Prix is not only one of the oldest races in the
Macau lineup – it’s also probably the most dangerous. With Macau’s Guia street circuit lacking many safety barriers at the time – and still absent of many run off areas around the track – bike riders probably have to be a
bit crazy to race on the Guia circuit.

Race legend John Macdonald 1972


John Macdonald is one of the Macau Grand Prix’s greatest legends, winning four GPs, a Motorcycle GP and the Guia Race – a record unlikely ever
to be matched. This photo shows him after his second win, being congratulated by the legendary Teddy Yip, whose Theodore Team would go on to record six wins in the event, most famously in 1983 with Ayrton Senna.

The first big name, Alan Jones 1976 


Several big names have graced the GP over the years, many before becoming true world beaters. In the 1970s, Alan Jones – who would go on to be the 1980 F1 World Champion – raced in Macau and was a consistent frontrunner. However, the Australian was dogged by bad luck and never won the event.

Ayrton Senna wins 1983


One of the biggest names to ever grace Macau over the years, the Brazilian won the first GP to be run to the new F3 regulations. Senna’s win really put Macau on the world stage and ensured that young drivers saw the event as a huge stepping stone to bigger things. Of course, in the years to follow his Macau triumph, he would go on to win three F1 world championships.

Mika Hakkinen crashes out, hands Schumacher the victory 1990


In the famous 1990 GP, Mika Hakkinen won the first heat and while he trailed in the second heat, his advantage was sufficient that he only had to hold position for the outright win. He could not resist a late overtaking manoeuvre on the penultimate lap and crashed into the back of Schumacher’s car. Many felt that he was ‘brake tested’ by the German, so setting the scene for an enduring rivalry that saw them gather nine F1 world titles between them. This photo shows Mika Salo taking second and Eddie Irvine coming third – all three drivers would go on to race for Ferrari in F1.

A nod to the modern day 1999 


A new pit/paddock complex was completed in the mid-90s and provided the event with state of the art facilities, all the more remarkable given that this is an event held only once a year.

The WTCC is introduced 2005


In 2005, the Guia Race of Macau – which has been part of the Macau GP since 1972 – began to host the prestigious final round of the World Touring Car Championship. While the Grand Prix remains the blue ribbon race of the Macau event, the importance of this WTCC addition has helped raise the status of the whole weekend to another level.

The Modern day 2013


The Macau Grand Prix has become the highest profile F3 race in the world, attracting a starting list of 30 from more than a dozen countries. This year’s favourites include British F3 Champion Jordan King and European F3 Champion Raffaele Marcielle.

The Macau Grand Prix
Nov 9-10, 14-17. Tickets: $50-$900; macauticket.com.
For more information on the event, see macau.grandprix.gov.mo. 

The Macau Grand Prix 2013

This year, the Macau Grand Prix takes place over two weekends, with a total of 13 races. Sunday November 17 sees the climax of the three most prestigious events on the programme – the Macau GT Cup, the WTCC Guia Race and the Formula 3 Grand Prix. 

And then there’s more events!

There are plenty of other events happening around the Grand Prix, too…

Classic Cars Exhibition
Nov 7-18,
The Venetian Macao

Macau Food Festival
Nov 8-24,
Sai Van Lake Square

Motorcycle Show
Nov 8-10,
Friendship
Square

Supercar and Road Sport Show
Nov 8-10,
Tap Seac Square

Grand Prix Carnival in Coloane
Nov 9-10,
Eduardo
Marques Square

Fireworks Display
9pm, Nov 10, 13 & 17,
in front of Macau Tower

Macau Grand Prix Rock Festival
7.30pm, Fri Nov 15,
Senado
Square

 

 

 

 

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