Since the Le Mans tragedy of 1955, motor racing has been banned in Switzerland but from the championships outset, the formidable Bremgarten circuit near Berne held 5 World Championship Grand Prix.
The track was first used in 1931 for Motorcycle racing with the first Swiss Grand Prix for cars taking place in 1934 and was held annually there after, dominated by the Silver Arrows, Hans Stuck winning the first GP in an Auto Union and the famous marque would win again in 1936 with Bert Rosemeyer where their rivals Mercedes would win with Hermann Lang in 1939 and with Rudolf Caracciola who would really make the circuit his own, winning in 1935, 1937 and 1938. Caracciola would eventually end his racing career at the circuit in 1952 driving a Mercedes 300SL. His brakes locked, sending his car into a tree, suffering a broken leg.
Post war there was great joy as the French great Jean-Pierre Wimille won in 1947 but the 1948 event was a tragic affair when Italian legend Achille Varzi was killed before the race in a practice accident. The race was packed with incident too, Maurice Trintignant was thrown from his car when he spun and lay unconscious in the road. Nino Farina, Prince Bira and Robert Manzon were forced to crash in avoidance of is body. He was declared dead at hospital but after lying in a coma for 8 days, Trintignant pulled through. Not so lucky was Christian Kautz who had a fatal accident of his own.
In the 50's Nino Farina won in 1950, Juan Manuel Fangio in 1951, Piero Taruffi in 1952, Alberto Ascari in 1953 and Juan Manuel Fangio again in 1954. All these drivers barring Taruffi went on to win the championship that year.
After the Le Mans disaster in 1955, the Swiss Government cancelled the forthcoming Swiss Grand Prix which was to be hosted at Bremgarten and the sport has been banned in the country ever since.
Bremgarten was a true road course set in stunning countryside, running through a public park just north of the capital. Both fast and dangerous, the track blasted through forest roads and was comprised of no real straights, more kinks between bends and sweeping corners. It was described as having 13 corners, but the diagram shows around 25 changes in direction. The track measured about 71⁄4 km (41⁄4 miles) of a clockwise rough oval. The start/finish was on a gently right-curving stretch of road, just north of the main rail line, and the heart of the city. A somewhat sharp right took the track north and into the forest. A rather jagged straight ended about 100 meters short of the River Aare, where the track to two more fairly sharp rights. This led onto a long gentle arc over a couple of low hills, and back down towards the city. The sharpest bend on the track turned the cars right again, past the pits and start/finish.
The track had no run-off and the surfaced was changeable.
In the intervening years a section of the Swiss A1 autobahn has been constructed just north of the old front straight. Portions of the old front straight can still be seen, but others were demolished by the autobahn construction and by construction of a new factory where the pits once stood. The road north to the river still exists, but portions of the old return leg have had the pavement removed, and constitute nothing more than a forest trail.
The following is a list of Grands Prix held at the Bremgarten circuit:
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