The inter-war period saw Grand Prix racing develop in exciting ways – Népliget Park in Assetto Corsa is a testament to this. Hungary’s first Grand Prix circuit looks deceptively simple, but is very tricky in period-correct machinery.
Formula One as a World Championship has only been around since 1950, but Grand Prix racing is much older. It reached a peak in the 1930s right before World War II, with legendary manufacturers like Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz or Auto Union continuously pushing for more speed.
It was during this period that Hungary was the host of a Grand Prix for the first time. While the Hungarian Grand Prix synonymous with the Hungaroring these days, 50 years before the track made its F1 debut in 1986, another circuit was the stage of top-level racing. In 1936, the Grand Prix circus made station in Budapest’s Népliget Park.
Népliget Park in Assetto Corsa: Kerbs Everywhere
Laid out on roads of the “People’s Park”, as its name translates to in English, the track measured 5 kilometers. It was entirely flat, but no less tricky as a result. Quite the contrary, actually. There were not many reference points available, so getting a feel for the circuit and memorizing the lap must have been difficult. It does not help that the track hardly ever goes in a straight line.
Népliget Park was lined by kerbs for most of the lap. Proper kerbs, that is – not the flat type, but rather those found on city streets as well. And, being a park, trees were everywhere. Going off the track more than likely meant hitting one of them. This experience is replicated in Népliget for Assetto Corsa, as the trees are indeed collidable. Don’t ask how we found out.
Anyway, back to the short history lesson. The 1936 Hungarian Grand Prix took place on June 21, and the entry list was full of legendary racing names. Hans Stuck, Bernd Rosemeyer (Auto Union), Rudolf Carraciola and Manfred von Brauchitsch (all Mercedes-Benz) all took to the grid for Germany. Italy’s hopes rested on Achille Varzi (Auto Union) and Tazio Nuvolari (in an Alfa Romeo entered by the Scuderia Ferrari), plus Antonio Brivio and Mario Tadini as Nuvolari’s teammates. Additionally, Budapest native László Hartmann took part in a Maserati.
Nuvolari’s Heroic Effort
Reports of the race suggest that the Germans looked like the sure winners throughout much of the race, but mechanical failures and a mistake by von Brauchitsch let Nuvolari chase the leading Rosemeyer. The Italian snatched P1 from the Auto Union driver to win the 50-lap race, withVarzi finishing in third – albeit two laps down.
The first Grand Prix at Népliget would also prove to be the final one. It would not return to the Grand Prix calendar in the next few years, then World War II prevented racing in Europe. The track was not finished, though, as even behind the Iron Curtain, racing took place there. Most notably, the European Touring Car Championship ran in Budapest from 1963 until 1970.
A revival was considered in the 1980s in a bid to revive the Hungarian Grand Prix. However, it was concluded that the park could not be brought up to F1 standards. Instead, the Hungaroring was built just about 30 minutes from Népliget.
Népliget in Assetto Corsa: Window to the Past
The park roads used for the race are mostly still there today. Sim racers and racing fans visiting Budapest may want to take a trip to the park to see the site of Nuvolari’s heroics against the much more advanced German vehicles for themselves. Alternatively, you can give Népliget Park in Assetto Corsa a spin!
Released on Christmas Eve in 2023 and then updated to version 2.00 on January 3, the circuit is available on RaceDepartment courtesy of carTOON. Népliget compliments cars like the Auto Union Typ C or the Maserati 8CM (which also launched on Christmas Eve). Both cars actually raced there, although the Auto Union is in its 1937 specification, while the Maserati is the 1934 version.
Both of the cars highlight the difficulty of the track very well. Népliget’s corners tend to vary in radius, making them extra tough to navigate. Their deceptive nature means sliding into or over the aforementioned kerbs is an integral part of the learning process.
The park setting creates an atmospheric scenery with few buildings, but those that are there (like the water tower) do stand out. To enhance the visuals, Leopard Skins has created alternate textures for the track. It could use a more detailed road mesh, however, as in our test runs, it felt very smooth.
Still, Népliget Park in Assetto Corsa is a great window into an era in racing that is not very frequently portrayed in sim racing these days. With Historic Sim Studios working on more 1934 Grand Prix cars, however, this could soon change a bit.
What are your thoughts on Népliget in Assetto Corsa? Are you looking forward to more inter-war Grand Prix circuits? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!