Featured Presentation #5:
The RitzSite started out in 1998 with a photo report of the '98 Marlboro
Masters of Formula 3 (see the Replaced Features section below) and now, about a year
later, you see the full report of the '99 event. This prestigious Formula 3 race and its
support races took place in the weekend of the 7th and 8th of August and untraditionally
it saw less than perfect weather.
For those of you not familiar with the Masters of Formula 3 a small explanation: Philip Morris Holland introduced an invitational Formula 3 race on the circuit of Zandvoort in 1991, partly to support the ailing circuit but mainly to promote the Marlboro brand. Zandvoort at that time (being a seaside resort) had became a victim of project developers who bought an important part of the circuit grounds to build holiday cottages. The original historic circuit was reduced to a small Mickey Mouse track which couldn't host any important races (it had already lost the Formula 1 race in the mid-eighties). Visitor numbers dropped, the financial situation became more and more gloomy and track maintenance and upgrading came to a halt.
A small group of influential Dutch autosport fans wanted to stop this demise. To prove the feasibility and potential popularity of a permanent autosport circuit some admission free race venues were organized (well before the circuit's reduction). These venues drew large numbers of spectators and the Philip Morris organization decided to adopt this format for a new unofficial "world championship" race for the Formula 3 class. The top Formula 3 drivers and teams from around the world were invited, and lured by a large amount of start- and price money they came too. The resulting annual races were called the "Masters of Formula 3" to stress the ambitions of the organizers.
Year after year the "Masters" became more and more popular and attracted more people and media attention. As the other unofficial F 3 world championship races in Macao and Monaco slided slowly into obscurity the Masters at Zandvoort became one of the most important F 3 races. Dutch governmental opinion towards motorsport also changed as became apparent that it had such a strong following. After much debate and some obnoxious obstructions by so-called environmentalists a new extended Zandvoort track was planned. Finally, just before the '99 season, a new F 1 worthy circuit was completed.
In my opinion the new Zandvoort circuit owes a lot (if not all) to the
Masters and the Philip Morris organization, so even if you object to their products some
good did come from it, at least for the Dutch autosport fans. The 1999 Masters on the new
and demanding Zandvoort circuit was as always admission free and attracted almost 100,000
spectators over the weekend who had a great time despite the unpleasant weather.
The total race program boasted 6 different race classes in 7 races and 2 main demonstrations. RitzSite reports on the 5 most interesting races and reviews the most spectacular demonstration. Click on the image map above to go directly to the report you want to see, or click this link to start the full report.
© André Ritzinger, Amsterdam, Holland