You will know that wondrous though the modern Spa is, its course follows barely one third of the route of the mighty original circuit whose 8.77 mile length was longer even than Le Mans is today. I have of course driven around it many times but there’s only so much you can soak up in a moving car keeping pace with heavy traffic. So I pulled on some training shoes and headed out, determined to trot around the old circuit, thereby completing the slowest lap of Spa in history.
Naturally you can’t access the new track during a race weekend so the run from Blanchimont up to La Source, down and up through Eau Rouge and along the Kemmel Straight is off limits, but you can get just the other side of the wall at Les Combes and straight into another world.
Where the modern track turns sharp right, the old circuit angles through a long quick left and starts plunging downhill. This is the old Les Combes and it leads straight into possibly the most evil corner any car ever raced around. Burnenville goes on forever, it’s all downhill, it tightens slightly and in a Porsche 917 or Ferrari 312PB you’d go through at around 180mph. This is where Stirling Moss had the second biggest crash of his career and where the brilliant Chris Bristow lost his life. Know where to look in the forest beyond and you’ll find memorials to others, too.