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Chronicle: Rallye Centenario Circuito de Lasarte, travel back in time

For Spanish fans, the year 2023 should not only be the centenary of the mythical 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1923, in the Gipuzkoan town of Lasarte, closed-circuit automobile races were held for the first time that would soon achieve international fame.

Celebration Rallye Centenario del Circuito de Lasarte has been an absolute success. The 100 years of a track whose races managed to be famous throughout the world were commemorated. They would even come close to resembling the race of Le Mans, although yes, without ever having a duration of 24 hours in a row.

For those who really want to document themselves on this subject, we can only recommend the magnificent book "Lasarte Circuit, Memories of a Passion” by Ángel Elberdin, watered with hundreds of impressive photographs. But for those who do not wish to delve so deeply, suffice it to say that, in Lasarte, very close to San Sebastián, between 1923 and 1935 an event was held that mixed drag racing for sports vehicles of tourism with Evidence of what today we could consider The original F1. In several editions that even happened during the same weekend.

Little or nothing remains of that layout, apart from some old buildings and a few stretches of road, now urban. Nevertheless, The idea of ​​reviving the event had been around the heads of various fans of classic vehicles for a few years. After some failed attempt, and taking advantage of the centenary of the first edition this year, the FEVA (Spanish Federation of Antique Vehicles) together with the RACV (Real Automóvil Club Vasco Navarro) joined forces to create this event. A rally that has managed to put together one of the best prewar vehicle rosters that had been seen in Spain in recent years.


Nothing less than eleven Hispano-Suiza of different models, including two fantastic Alfonso XIII or several Delages. Small sports cars from the 20s from the French brands Amilcar, Rally or Darmont, or Spanish rarities such as the only Ricart and Autos España still in operation also participated. Two and a half Bugatti could even be seen.

And we say "and a half" because one of them, a Type 44, was only present in the closed area of ​​the Chillida Leku, only within the visual range of a lucky few. Accompanied, yes, by others Hispano-Suiza and the most interesting and unique Donosti, a car manufactured by the Mañero and Mendiburu workshops in San Sebastián and which served as the zero car in the Lasarte races in the 20s.

It is a pity that both that Bugatti and Donosti did not leave there to participate in the “Le Mans type” start - that is, with the cars stopped parallel to one side of the road, and the drivers running from the opposite side - which was held on Sunday June 4 in the same place where this was done 100 years ago. It would have been the proper thing for Donosti, as in the past, to have opened the procession; or failing that, that he would have done it Hispano-Suiza J12 with which Jesús Mari Etxebarría took part, since this car had also officiated as zero car in the 30s, yes, equipped with another bodywork.


In general, the route through the beautiful Gipuzkoan roads, both on the coast and in the inland towns, it was an enjoyment for the around 50 participants. In the top positions, the sports models used to circulate at good speeds, almost always led by the Bugatti 35 by Juan Quintano.

Meanwhile, much further back in the peloton and at walking speed, one could see some Citroën, Ford or Buick with little or no competitive overtones. These served to give the many spectators present an idea of ​​the cars with which the public flocked to see the Lasarte races, and filled parking lots in the vicinity of the circuit. ten decades ago.

In summary, the Rallye Centenario Circuito de Lasarte has been an unbeatable tribute to a whole series of competitions that turned the town of San Sebastian into one of the epicenters of interwar racing. Our most sincere congratulations to FEVA and RACV.

Photographs by Unai Ona.

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Written by Francisco Carrion

My name is Francisco Carrión and I was born in Ciudad Real in 1988, a place that was not at first akin to vintage cars. Fortunately my grandfather, dedicated to the automotive sector, had friends who owned veteran cars and participated in the annual rally that was held (and continues to be held) in my hometown ... Read more

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