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Stan Coldham checks out the new Paddock Hill bend in his new Cooper MkII at Brands Hatch whilst workmen continue to build it! Stan is racing anti-clockwise in this picture.
Upcoming Historic Racing
April 9th - HRDC Academy, Touring Greats and A-Series Challenge at the BRSCC Meeting.
April 29th to 30th - MG Car Club Championships.
May 27th & 28th - Masters Historic - The Masters Historic Festival returns to Brands Hatch in late May for a traditional Bank Holiday weekend of classic racing action, headlined by the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship.
The event is one of the historic racing highlights of the year, with classic Formula One, sportscar and saloon machinery taking to the full, classic Grand Prix circuit - one of the few to have retained all of its character from the halcyon days of motor racing. Plus there's plenty to see and do away from the circuit, including vast car club displays.
May 29th - Morgan Sports Car Club
July 1st and 2nd - The Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) will celebrate motorsport history with a major two-day event on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit this July. This year's event will place particular focus on Formula Ford which will celebrate its 50th anniversary at its Kentish spiritual home. Former competitors from the class are expected to return in multiple grids to give the popular historic category a proper commemoration.
The most exciting spectacles will include the Historic Race of Champions, recalling the venue's past as the host of non-championship F1 fixtures, classically-modelled F1 cars with the the pulsating Super Touring Cars, recreating the sensational tin top battles of the '90s.
July 8th to 9th - Mini Festival.
August 12th - Aston Martin Raceday.
August 13th - Festical Italia.
Nov 11th to 12th - CSCC Into the Night Race.
Brands Hatch is one of the UK’s most famous circuits and has an interesting history. The area was originally used as a military training ground when a group of cycling enthusiasts used the area for practice and time trials. The first race took place in 1928 between a group of cyclists and cross-country runners! The potential was soon spotted by motorcyclists who laid out an anti-clockwise circuit of about three-quarters of a mile. During WW2 the area was used as a park for military vehicles and subsequently attracted a lot of attention from the Luftwaffe and the area needed a great deal of tidying up before it could become a professional circuit. The circuit was surfaced in 1950 creating a 1 mile oval circuit which attracted the first car club events. The first car race on record was organised by the Half Litre Car Club on the 16th April. In 1953 the Universal Motor Racing Club was set up along with a racing school.
Expansion and development continued with the famous Druids Bend being added along with a proper pit lane and banking for spectator viewing. It was at this point that the direction of racing was changed to the clockwise format which we still have today.
Brands hosted its first F2 race in 1956, further establishing the circuit as a key venue in the UK and this momentum continued as the 2.65 mile Grand Prix circuit was built in 1959. Jack Brabham was one of the first winners at the longer circuits, coming home first in the Silver City Trophy Formula One race in August 1960.
New owners negotiated the alternating sharing of the British Grand Prix with Silverstone and the first Championship race took place on July 11th 1964 won by Jim Clark in a Lotus-Climax ahead of Graham Hill in his BRM and Surtees in the works Ferrari.
The mid 1960s saw some tragic accidents with Stuart Duncan, George Crossman, Tony Flory all losing their lives. These accidents, along with Jo Siffert in 1971 led to more safety improvements and modifications but F1 cars were becoming too fast for the circuit and the 1986 British Grand Prix was the last to be held there.
Brands Hatch is probably most famous in the UK for its annual hosting of the Formula Ford Festival since 1972. 14 winners have gone on to race in Formula One including Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson and Johnny Herbert.
Today the circuit is owned by Motorsport Vision who also own Oulton Park, Snetterton, Cadwell Park and the Bedford Aerodrome.
The Indy Circuit in particular makes great use of the natural landscape contours. Circuit maps and TV don’t do justice to the dip and rise from Hailwood to Druids - its quite a climb.
1. Paddock Hill Bend is a fast and demanding right hander which is followed by a large gravel trap for good reason. The corner dips and it is easy to miss the line and end up being flung left.
2. Druids is a slow corner with a heavy braking approach. A popular overtaking area but contact is common with drivers often turning in oblivious to their opponents position.
3. Cooper Straight is a quick blast. The line through here will vary depending on whether the race is on the Indy or longer GP circuit.
4. On the Indy circuit McLaren and Clark Curve work together to form one long looping right hander. Clark Curve leads on the the main straight for the Indy circuit so lining up the preceding corners precisely, including Surtees, is vital for a quick lap time.
5. Hawthorn Bend is taken very quickly indeed.
6. Dingle Dell is a popular overtaking area.
7. Clearway becomes part of a long straight when used with the GP circuit. Braking into Clark Curve can be hard to judge when in traffic which can lead to trouble on the Brabham Straight.
In Car Video
Where To Watch
The Indy circuit is nestled in a natural bowl and is brilliant for spectators.
• Grandstands at the end of the Brabham Straight give a good view of the start/finish line as well as Paddock Hill (with the Paddock a hive of activity just behind) and the dip down Hailwood Hill round Druids (though some trees get in the way) and then down Graham Hill to Cooper. There aren’t many circuits around where you can see so much action from one place.
• You can view Hailwood from the Outfield which gives you a great sense of the gradient change but the cars are moving quick here so it is not the best place to take a picture
• Druids has viewing from the outfield and also the infield (via a bridge over Hailwood). The outfield area is very popular and rightly so.
• Cooper Straight is visible from outfield banking and on most occasions it is possible to park your car here and view from the comfort of your own seat.
• Pilgrims Drop and Hawthorn Hill are pretty much one straight and whilst the viewing areas here are good the cars go so fast that it is difficult to catch up with them.
• Few spectators bother with the area from Hawthorn Bend to Westfield Bend as the viewing isn’t that great.
• Clearways and Clark Curve are good to watch from. Plenty of cars visit the large gravel trap in front and you get a good view of the cars heading up towards Brabham Straight.