To understand how the Autòdrom Terramar first came to be, one needs to look back at the history of the land where this race track was born and ask the following question: what was Catalonia like at the dawn of the 20th century?
Effervescent, festive and rapidly evolving: this was Catalonia at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century, with regional capital Barcelona at the heart of its metamorphosis. Thanks to geniuses like Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and of course Antoni Gaudí, the city was being transformed by vibrant modernist architecture. And that explosion of culture coincided with an industrial revolution providing the new bourgeois class with money to spend on leisure activities. Football, field hockey, and equestrian sports all took hold in the city at this time, but also auto racing, a hitherto-unknown pastime which soon met with enormous success in the Catalan society. Barcelona was not the only beneficiary of these changes, however. Neighbouring Sitges, a peaceful seaside resort frequented by vacationers, would also experience dizzying new development with the influx of cash.
It was during this period that Frederic Armangué i Feliu, or Frick as he liked to be called, was born. And in the following years, the Barcelona-based driver would become one of the key figures in Catalonia’s automotive history. Indeed, Frick was part of a wealthy family of doctors who were all passionate about cars. His younger brother, Josep María Armangué, was also a renowned driver, entrepreneur and car designer, and his other brother Lluís was one of the directors of ‘la Penya Rhin’, a big automotive club in the city between 1916 and 1954. Together, the Armangué siblings founded David, a car manufacturer in town which at its high point produced more than a thousand vehicles – a remarkable amount for the era. But the premature death of Josep María, designer of the brand’s models, would lead to the Armangué family’s withdrawal from the business.
At the same time, even though several other race tracks already existed across Catalonia – for example the Circuit del Baix Penedès, built in 1906 – the region was still lacking a high-quality oval on the level of Brooklands and Monza, whose creation had drawn widespread attention. Clearly, the idea for such a project could only come from an Armangué, and it was Frick, with the help of a young Barcelona architect named Jaume Mestres i Fosas, who would end up leaving an indelible mark on the global automotive landscape. But that’s another story…