There were plans for races at Zandvoort before World War II: the first street race was held on June 3, 1939. However, a permanent race track was not constructed until after the war, using communications roads built by the occupying German army. Contrary to popular belief John Hugenholtz cannot be credited with the design of the Zandvoort track, although he was involved as the Nederlandse Automobiel Ren Club chairman (the Dutch Auto Racing Club) before becoming the first track director in 1949. Instead, it was 1927 Le Mans winner, S. C. H. “Sammy” Davis who was brought in as a track design advisor in July 1946 although the layout was partly dictated by the existing roads.
The circuit was inaugurated on August 7, 1948. The following year the race was called the Zandvoort Grand Prix and in 1950 it became the “Grote Prijs van Nederland” or Dutch Grand Prix. The 1952 Dutch Grand Prix was a round of the World Drivers Championship for the first time [but not a Formula One race, as the World Championship was for Formula Two cars that year and in 1953]. There was no GP at Zandvoort in 1954 (a sportscar-event replaced it), but 1955 saw the first proper Formula One race counting for the World Championship. After 2 more years without a race the Dutch Grand Prix was back on the World Championship(s) calendar in 1958 and from then on remained a permanent fixture (with the exception of 1972) until 1985, when it was held for the last time.