“The Giant sleeps……………………Namur Citadelle Motocross Grand prix venue!”

Posted: March 23, 2012 in Motorcycle paintings and news.
Tags: , , , ,

Every sport has it’s own iconic venue, Wimbledon, Wembley, Monaco F1,  Golf Masters from Augusta Georgia, they  all evoke special memories amongst fans  and competitors the world over. In Motocross we have fantastic venues like Farleigh Castle, Gaildorf, St jean d’Angely, Unadilla etc,  but nowhere is held in such high esteem and reveered by fans as the Namur circuit in Belgium. Used since the 1940’s the circuit starts on an esplanade in front of the terraces, then drops off and swoops through the woods, under ornemental metal bridges, past the children’s playground down massive drop offs to emerge in front of the Old Cafe Monument before a steep terraced climb back up alongside the ancient fort’s moat to emerge from the darkness of the woods out onto the esplanade.

Together with my good friend Alan Bott we visited Georges Jobe to present him with the original painting of his famous double jump at Hawkstone Park.

Georges Jobe and artist Rob Kinsey presentation

Alan had commissioned the painting but wanted to give it to Georges who is battling Leukeamia.

Georges accepts painting from Alan Bott.

The following day we decided we must make a pilgramage to Namur to check out this iconic venue. I first visited Namur in 1979 on a Chequers Travel Coach trip to watch Graham Noyce clinch the 500cc World Championship. I was amazed how the track raced around this old fort close to the city centre below.  I returned 10 years later with one of my Moto travel tours to watch Dave Thorpe break the spirit of his team mate Eric Geboers on his way to his third world title. Thorpey was racing with a badly injured knee but overcame the pain to beat Geboers that day.

The Citadelle Ampitheatre behind the start.

From the start the riders swept around the first turn through banked turns and whoops before a massive tabletop dropped them into the woods.

Racing toward the ornimental iron foot bridge

Under the bridge the track sweeps past a children’s playarea then through many off cambered turns alongside the road before clinbing back up into the woods. Every year fans would camp literally right beside the track in tents and motorhomes. On the ritual early morning walk of the track many tents would have massive piles of  empty beer cans and bottles outside, evidence of some serious nighttime partying. Several fans would literally sleep through the bikes racing nearby, worse for wear!

Short climb back up into the woods.

In the woods you can still make out tyre tracks in the undergrowth from the last GP in 2006.  The track then swoops down over a massive step down I watched in awe as Paul Malin cleared it!, back in 1989.

Step down jump in the woods.

The track then drops down a massively steep downhill to emerge on the road and race past the Cafe Monument , watering hole for many Brits who made the annual trip to Namur.

Past the Cafe Monument the track then jumped up onto the cobbled road.

This was the place where Hakan Carlquist stopped to down a beer whilst leading the final lap of a GP!  In 2006 Stefan Everts clinched his 10th World title here infront of his many friends and fans. Stefan did stop but apparently drank an Iced Tea!, not beer.  In the early days the riders raced past on the tarmac road but at later races they did lay dirt on the road. From here riders would hit a jump flat out and land on the cobbled road.

Ancient cobbles

The track then races towards the forts gate before turning sharp right up a very steep bank.

The fort entrance, track goes right up steep bank.

From here the track climbs up several steps and banks running alongside the moat of the Citadelle fort.

Looking back down on Namur and Citadelle moat.

You can still make out ruts on the steep uphill.

Uphill ruts.

I remember the heady smells of Frits with mayo, burgers and garlic sausages from the many vendors around the track.

Uphill jumps!

The track makes one last plunge back down into the woods, before swooping out onto the esplanade and the roar of the crowds.

Jump back onto esplanade.

When we visited there was a Vintage Nostalgia Circus set up on the esplanade. Hearing the Lions roar you could be forgiven for thinking it was the spirit of Namur and Motocross trying to break free from the shackles of inactivity and spring into life again! Afterwards we enjoyed a cold beer in the courtyard of the resturant on top, looking down on Namur below. Speaking to Julian, the resturant owner, he says there are many influential people lobbying local government officials to try and bring the glory of world championship motocross back to it’s rightful home.  Let’s hope this happens and we can once again hear the roar of the crowds and bikes echoing around this fantastic venue!

About these ads
Comments
  1. Roger Trosell says:

    Bring Namur back to life !!!

  2. carl benjamin says:

    Hi there, im touched by the work you do, a friend of mine sect this to me ceri williams. we had the most amazing time at that circuit, we were there when stefan clinched his 10th title. wow what a buzz, we sat in the pub in the middle of the track drinking ice cold beer, the atmosphere was electric. i tried to convince the gang of boys with me that weekend we should all chip in and buy that pub ha ha, guess that belgium beer was too strong for me ha ha . Thanks for captureing this amazing circuit, the painting is amazing, The sport needs more people like yourselves to be involved to bring it back to the days when Dave Thorpe was the man.
    Thanks again Benjy

  3. Great story.Brings back lots of memories of the last race in 2007. That track was the scariest I have ever ridden. 1900 meters is the longest FIM GPMX back then. I still have my beautiful Kinsey painting to remember Namur. Hope you are doing well.
    Glenn McGovern

  4. Simon Reilly says:

    Fantastic read Rob. Thanks 8-D…

  5. robkinseyart says:

    Thank’s everyone for the kind words and recollections of this incredible venue.
    Glenn,
    Glad it evoked those memories again. When walking track on the steep downhill to Cafe Monument I caught a root with my foot and ended up doing a foward roll, backflip that even Travis Pastrana would have been proud off! This was much to the amusement of my friend Alan Bott!
    It was almost as if Namur was asking for respect, even in it’s dormant state!
    I’m jealous of you being able to say you rode such an iconic venue, and the painting brings back such powerful emotions. It was a pleasure to paint it!
    Rob

  6. Paul Pocklington says:

    This place was the best motocross circuit ever! great memories, would love to do it all again some day.

  7. Chris Bond says:

    Not another track in the world like it,bring back MXGP to it’s rightful home!.

    • Namur is a magical place for motocross. It is a beautiful but a very dangerous track due to using an existing castle and park. It is over 1900 meters with huge slippery uphills. It has high speed sections in moat lined with rock that whiz by as you are pinned in 5th gear.The crowds are rowdy. Nothing is like Namur. It should be on the FIM MX circuit no matter what it takes. It is a piece of history and part of the motocross culture. There is no excuse why this should not remain on the circuit.

      • robkinseyart says:

        Happy 2013 Glenn,
        Here’s to you and family my friend. Saw a post where you were talking about flying? My wife Jo would love to fly, always been her ambition!. Jo was amazed when we had a helicopter flight over Glacier Nat Park in 2004, ex military guy & a Motoman! he was getting us so close. As I was the “big guy”, the girls got the back and I got co pilots seat, clear perspex floor. Loved it! nearest thing to racing MX.
        There was aprogramme all about Lafyette & swamp, is that your patch??
        Rob & Jo xx

  8. Mike Lambert says:

    I have been a motocross rider, fan, coach and sponsor since 1974. I even raced some International events in 1982 and 1984 in Belgium and France. Namur was always one of the places I had always wanted to visit. Last year my wife and I attended the GP at Lommel and had a great time. The last GP we had been to was Farleigh Castle in 1982. After Lommel, we made our way down to Namur and checked out the castle and the course layout. It would be fantastic to see a GP there again, or any race. When we got home, I looked at some YouTube videos from Namur and got a feel for the atmosphere that would develop from another GP on that historical site.

    Mike Lambert AMA Pro 1977-1986 FIM 1982 and 1984.

    • robkinseyart says:

      Mike,
      I spoke with the Belgiam MXGP organiser @ MXDN Lommel in Sept. They have a 5 year contract for GP in belgium. I asked him in Press Conference, would Namur be part of plan?
      Yes, we want to go back there for sure, we have to work with local government, green party are against it, but looking @ the walls of the Moat opposite to track they are crumbling and I’m sure money could be put in to restoration.
      The cafe owners on esplanade, everyone wants the GP back there. I was talking to stefan Everts at KTM Christmas Party, we must go back there, it’s so special where he won his 10th world title.
      Some workers were planting miniture trees in woods just before drop down to Cafe monument. We laughed at them 10 blokes & 1 spade working!
      Happy 2013 everyone, hope your dreams come true!

  9. brendon ions says:

    george has gone to a place where everyone races facory hondas. he will take some beating now. god speed champ..thanx for many nights falling asleep as a young boy looking up at you jumping over andre at hawkstone. brendon #52

  10. robkinseyart says:

    Thanks for your kind words

  11. Dave Slade says:

    I went there in 1982 happy happy days I got Roger Decoster to sign my programme loved the sport then it all seems a bit plastic nowadays

  12. The Rock says:

    Thank you Rob for the trip down memory lane. My avatar shot was taken from the bridge looking towards the beautiful town of Namur.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s