History of the Circuit


It has already been a few years since Jean Bernigaud, then a young mayor of Magny-Cours since 1957, had the idea of ​​building a speed car circuit in his town. One of the events which is at the origin of this idea is the Grand Prix of the ACF (Automobile Club de France) which took place on July 4, 1954 in Reims.

Coming as a spectator, Jean Bernigaud discovered that it was possible to use the roads to create a speed circuit. A big fan of speed and thrilling sports, he decided to take action at home in Magny-Cours.

Photo: Jean Bernigaud (left) and Charles Ardoin, his partner (right)

However, on looking more closely, he realizes that the regulations imposed are draconian, the development very expensive and that, moreover, the authorities are not certain of guaranteeing him authorization in the long term. This failure does not stop him, he finds another idea: he must create a speed track. The place seems ready, he has the necessary space on his estate in Bardonnay, at a place called “Les Gaillères”.

This project is based on three objectives:

  • he would like to create a “Motor Stadium” open to the practice of all motor sports, whether cars, motorcycles or motocross, including karting,
  • he would also like this site to be open permanently and to be able to offer as many activities as possible,
  • and finally it would give this site an educational vocation.


The craze for Karting, which came from the United States, seems to be growing in France. In Nevers, the first club was created, it was called the Karting Club Nivernais.

The training sessions of this club attract people, Jean Bernigaud and Charles Ardoin, partners, understand that the “Motor Stadium” project must begin with a Karting track.

Photo : aerial view of the karting circuit in 1960

The 510 meter long, 6 meter wide track which has 7 turns is built straight away. on August 7, 1960, the Jean Behra Motor Stadium (named after the French pilot who died on August 1, 1959) was inaugurated by organizing the 2 hours of Magny-Cours. 24 karts, 48 ​​drivers, 8 clubs and 2 spectators are present.


The Motor Stadium is developing, in addition to the Karting track, Jean Bernigaud decides to build a 2 meter car-motorcycle track, a 000 meter motocross track, grandstands, security installations and parkings.

The motocross track will be inaugurated on March 12, 1961. On this occasion a race is organized and 5 spectators will be present that day at the Motor Stadium.

Photo : aerial view of Motor Stadium in 1961


On November 19, 1965, at the end of the Volant Shell, Jean Bernigaud decided to bring together the personalities present for the event in order to explain to them his project to expand the circuit. This is the start of six years of major work.

In April 1966, construction of the road bridge was completed. This bridge will allow vehicles to access the heart of the circuit without crossing the track. It was built in a record time of 8 days by the Stévenot-Routier company.

Photo : the Stévenot-Routier bridge under construction in 1966

At the end of April 1967, work continued, construction of a new tower and the new Winfield school building began.

Photo : the new building under construction in 1967

At the beginning of 1968, work on the school was completed, the embankment of the 5th turn was bulldozed and a grandstand was installed there.

Photo : installation of the grandstand in 1968

The year 1969 marked a period of great progress in the work: the track widened (from 7 to 9 meters) and 5 stands were built. Painters are finishing the final touches on the building.

The expansion project is taking shape on the right of the circuit, a new dirt track will be added to the old track. These are the bases of the new automobile circuit.

Photo : view of the circuit at the end of October 1969, with the expansion projects in the form of a dirt track on the right

In 1971, the new Magny-Cours circuit was completed. It now has a total length of 3 meters and a constant useful width of 850 meters, allowing it to accommodate races of 9 cars or 30 motorcycles.

This new circuit will be inaugurated on May 2, 1971 during the 11th Automobile Speed ​​Circuit.


The Magny-Cours automobile circuit continued to evolve, in March 1979 the tarmac paddock was created.

In 1980, new modifications were made to the track: a turn was added at the current “Grande Courbe”.

In March 1984, the new giant car park was built in the meadow under the circuit.

Still in March, but in 1985, work on the automobile circuit continued as new offices were created as well as a press room above the stands.

Photo : view of the new giant car park built in the meadow under the circuit in 1984


In 1986, the General Council of Nièvre bought the circuit from the Bernigaud family with the plan to build an F1 track there. The Jean Behra circuit will finally be demolished in 1988 to make way for the new Nevers Magny-Cours automobile circuit.


In 1989, the circuit, now approved to host the Formula 1 French Grand Prix, was inaugurated on April 29. A page turns and a new story begins.

The first French F1 Grand Prix on the Nevers Magny-Cours racing circuit took place on July 7, 1991.

During the 90s, numerous developments were carried out, mainly on security aspects or reception structures reserved for the public.

In 1992, the “Esse” curve was removed just after the “Adelaïde” hairpin for sporting and safety reasons relating to F1.

Photo : view of the circuit in 1991

In 1994, the new karting track was created, then it was not until 2000 that the “Club” track was created.

The Grand Prix track was once again modified in 2003 at the “Château d'Eau” and “Lycée” turns, making the route less dangerous and more conducive to overtaking. The “Club” track building was also constructed.

Source and thanks: Jean-Louis BALLERET (1993) Magny-Cours 30 years of racing!, Edition SIN PHOBOS and Benoit ABDELatif, www.classic-days.fr.

Birth of the first karting circuit in Magny-Cours, at the initiative of Jean Bernigaud, mayor of Magny-Cours and owner of the land.

Official inauguration of the Jean Behra Circuit (2 km) in Magny-Cours.

Inauguration of the new, expanded Jean Behra Circuit (3.850 km).

Complete modification of the Jean Behra circuit.

On November 18, visit by President François Mitterrand to the new route, likely to host Formula 1 (acquisition of land for this circuit and an adjoining technology park).

Inauguration of the new Nevers Magny-Cours automobile circuit which will now organize the French Formula 1 Grands Prix.

5-year lease granted by FISA to SAEPCNMC for the organization of the French Grand Prix from 1991 to 1995.

First French F1 Grand Prix on the Nevers Magny-Cours Circuit (more than 100 spectators, July 000).

The General Council of Nièvre entrusts the management and permanent operation of the Nevers Magny-Cours automobile circuit to the ACNMC.

Opening of the Nevers Magny-Cours Karting track.

New look for the buildings of the Automobile Circuit.

Renewal of the GPF3 contract for 1 years.

A Joint Sports Economy Limited Company operates the automobile circuit, which enriches its Visiocenter reception infrastructure (conference room with multimedia video wall).

Creation of a new track reserved for driving courses “the Circuit Club”.

Arrival of the Bol d’Or World Endurance Championship.

Modification of the layout of the “Grand Prix” track and construction of the “Club Track” building. First organization of the French round of the Superbike World Championship, contract signed until 2007.

The FFSA becomes the organizing promoter of the F1 Grand Prix.

July 14,15, 16 and 1906 – the Centenary Grand Prix… the Grand Prix name appeared for the first time in XNUMX. Magny-cours will mark the event with a Historic Grand Prix.

New with the Classic Days, a large gathering of vintage cars, the first weekend in May.

On October 15, the FFSA announced that it was relinquishing its role as promoter of the Formula 1 French Grand Prix.

For the first time since 1991, the Nevers Magny-Cours automobile circuit is not hosting the French round of the Formula 1 World Championship.

The Superleague Formula makes its debut in France and Magny-Cours.

Superbike World Championship contract extended until 2012.

For the first time, a truck competition is organized on the Nivernais route. The French Truck Cup is a popular success.

The racing circuit is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Start of the Bol d'Or World Endurance Championship after its last edition in Magny-Cours.

Start of work to modernize the stand building then the administrative building.

The Conservatoire de la Monoplace Française was inaugurated on May 1, 2015 in the presence of numerous personalities such as Guy Ligier and Tico Martini and talented drivers who passed through Magny-Cours such as Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jacques Laffite, Philippe Alliot, Franck Lagorce, …

The circuit is organizing for the first time the 12h of Nevers Magny-Cours, a motorcycle endurance event on June 5, 6 and 7.

The arrival of the first Historic French Grand Prix on June 30, July 1 and 2.

Installation of 28m² of photovoltaic shade structures within the Circuit.

Total resurfacing of the Grand Prix track

Homologation work on the Grand Prix track, with on the one hand the increase in clearance on the left side when braking in Adelaide and on the other hand the movement of the wall at the exit of the pit chicane.