I have a long history of walking race circuits and a much shorter one driving them. In 1965 I dragged my Dad around Monaco on a searing hot day when there was still a station at Station hairpin but not, as far as I can recall, a gasworks. It is only natural therefore that I should inflict the Valencia GP circuit on my better half, particularly as cruise ships moor within a few hundred yards of the pit complex, probably the most elegant on the entire circus. The disappointment for the GP Ramblers Association, an unlikely club of which I am probably the sole member, is that a full lap is not possible. There is a stretch in the marina along the front of the Americas Cup buildings which is cordoned off whilst the swing bridge that loops the circuit back towards the pit complex is permanently open to boats and permanently closed to road traffic. That apart, it is an invigorating if leisurely lap with plenty of GP ‘archaeology’ to be found around the streets.
The centre of Valencia is some distance from the docks and the road in follows a large section of the Rio Turia which was diverted away from the city following disastrous flooding in 1957. The entire 4.5 mile riverbed has since been transformed into gardens, recreations areas and sports facilities encased in embankments and elegant old bridges whose original purpose has gone with the river. It is a miracle not just in engineering terms but in local politics; how on earth do you transform an idea like “why don’t we drain the riverbed” into reality; this wasn’t a stream, this was something approaching the size of the River Thames.
It was Christmas Eve in Valencia, it was shoulder to shoulder in the market and people danced in the streets.