Switzerland is open to racing again after a 67-year ban


A small mountainous nation, Switzerland has produced a surprising number of racing drivers. From IndyCar racer Simona de Silvestro to multiple Le Mans winner and Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi, the place far outnumbers its demographic. There have even been Swiss racing teams, like Rebellion in the World Endurance Championship and longtime Formula 1 midfielders Sauber. Many racing drivers also settle there, mainly for tax reasons, but for 67 years the sport has essentially been banned.

All motor racing was banned in Switzerland following the 1955 Le Mans disaster, one of motorsport’s most horrific incidents. Pierre Levagh’s Mercedes jumped over tire barriers, burst into flames and blasted debris into the crowd, killing Levagh and 83 bystanders. With 180 people injured in the incident, it became motorsport’s deadliest accident and that’s why Mercedes quit motorsport for a long time. The Swiss government ruled that, although the incident took place in France, motorsport was simply too dangerous to be permitted and all forms of racing were completely banned.

Since then, there have been a few motorsport events in Switzerland. Formula E held two races in Zurich and Bern, which had special exemptions for being electric. There have also been a few rallies, and the crazy scooter racing series eSkootr Championship staged its second round in Sion a few weekends ago, also under the electric exemption.

However, everything else was entirely irrelevant for 67 years, and the Swiss Grand Prix, which started in 1934, was totally irrelevant. The Swiss media, however, reported this week that all of that could be reversed now, as the Chamber of Cantons (essentially the Swiss Senate) voted to reverse it in a slew of rule changes that, unusually for Switzerland, all appear to be able to benefit cars.

Switzerland is a pretty terrible country to drive for a lots of reasons, like a very low overall speed limit, incredibly harsh penalties for minor infractions, and because there are a bunch of places you can’t take cars to at all in the Alps. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, preserving a very beautiful country with an amazing rail system rather than tarring it onto the highways, but it does mean it’s a rare day when there’s good news for drivers there -down.

Along with the vote to overturn the motorsports ban, the Chamber of Townships also voted to remove a minimum one-year jail term for the party found responsible for any fatal car accident and reducing the time a person loses their license for traffic violations, as well as voting in favor of regulating and registering self-driving vehicles.

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