Imola has been the host of the San Marino Grand Prix since the inception of this race in 1981. However, it was not the first time the track had played host to Formula One, as just the previous September it hosted the Italian Grand Prix - the only time in championship history that the race has ventured away from Monza.
In addition, Jim Clark won the first non-championship event at Imola as early as 1963 - a race that the Ferrari team didn't even attend. They did attend the 1979 Dino Ferrari Grand Prix, won by Niki Lauda in the Brabham. It was Lauda's last F1 race before his sudden decision to retire, although he returned in 1982. The race also featured Giacomo Agostini, multiple world champion motorcyclist, racing a Williams.
Nelson Piquet won the first two championship races at Imola (Italy 1980 and San Marino 1981), coincidentally both from fifth on the grid, both also for Brabham. The 1981 race featured a couple of oddities, as Riccardo Patrese finished second for Arrows. When Thierry Boutsen was also second for them four years later, it marked the first (and only) time Arrows scored multiple podiums at one circuit.
Didier Pironi leads the 1981 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola © LAT
The inaugural San Marino race is also notable for the unfortunate Miguel Angel Guerra. He crashed barely a third of a lap into his debut with Osella, breaking both his wrist and ankle, and ending one of the shortest F1 careers ever.