This wonderful image shows what the Reims circuit looked like during the 1951 French Grand Prix. The pits were on the left, with but little separation from the Route Départmentale on which this section of the circuit was laid out. You are looking back up the main straight toward the hairpin turn called Thilois which connected the circuit’s two longest straights. Although Reims has not been used for motor racing since 1969, the pits and the grandstand opposite have been preserved as monuments to its past glories.
In this photograph the works-entered Alfa Romeo 159 of Consalvo Sanesi is passing the stands at full speed, probably well over 150 mph. Sanesi was generally a test driver for Alfa in the early 1950s, but sometimes was given a car in selected races as here where he finished in 10th place. Always one of the Alfisti, he continued racing Alfa Romeo sports cars into the 1960s. The race was won by Juan Manuel Fangio with an Alfa Romeo 159. Alfa and Ferrari each entered four cars and shared the first five finishing positions.
This edition of the French Grand Prix was run on the prewar longer version of the course which continued straight past the grandstands and entered the village of Gueux where there was a slow right hand corner, the circuit then being known as Reims-Gueux. In the next year, a sweeping curve to the right was introduced just after where this photograph was taken, eliminating the turn in Gueux, so as to make the circuit faster in its competition with Spa-Francorchamps and Monza as to which would be the fastest Grand Prix course.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection