The Brazilian architect Lolô Cornelsen was a fairly prolific designer of racing circuits in his day. He penned Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepaguá, (1966), plus the tracks at Curitiba (1967), Estoril (1972) and a little-known circuit in Luanda in Angola, which opened three weeks before Estoril.
The Portuguese colony on the west coast of Africa had seen its first motor races in the late 1950s. These were primarily sports car races on a street circuit in Luanda, but they attracted international entries and the ambition existed in Angola to host F1 races.
With this in mind, Cornelsen was commissioned to design an Autódromo Internacional de Luanda out in the country to the south west of the city, close to the Atlantic coast.
Less than a year after the new circuit opened, there was a military coup in Portugal and the new government planned to make Angola independent, in order to stop a long-running armed struggle that dated back to 1961. Around half a million Portuguese departed as a result of the plan, the majority of them being the country’s only skilled workers. The result was a power vacuum and then a full blown civil war, as different armed factions fought for control of Angola. This war would go on until 2002, by which time the Autódromo was out of date.
It is still there today, but the city has now grown around it…