Brands Hatch: A brief history by RMA’s Leyton Clarke
11th May 2017
Motorsport Days has teamed up with professional racing driver and managing director of RMA Track Days Leyton Clarke to bring you a history of one of the UK’s most prestigious racing circuits.
Just like all the circuits in the UK, Brands Hatch hasn’t always been the fantastic track that we’ve come to know today.Unlike some others, which get their roots and layout from old military airbases, Brands Hatch was nothing more than a farmer’s field.
The first ever race was held in 1926 and there wasn’t an engine to be heard, as it was a race hosted by the local cycling club. It wasn’t for a good few years until the motorsport community saw the potential in the quiet grassy hollow.
Over the coming years motorcyclists would organise events in the field, each time carving out a slightly different layout until they had a kidney shape lap which has stuck since.
Jump forward to the 1960’s after the circuit had undergone well-needed repair work after it sustained a tremendous amount of bombing during the war, and the track was ready for its extension.
It would jump in size to 2.65 miles and double the length of the lap creating an extremely fast and exciting series of corners out back in the forest. For the first time ever Britain would have a Grand Prix Circuit within 20 miles of London!
As you can see below the initial 1950’s project layout was very different to what they decided to go with:
The new layout was an absolute success among the tremendous crowds and record traffic jams were recorded on the A20. Tens of thousands of fans saw Jack Brabham take the inaugural Formula One win on the new and improved lap.
Over the next fifty years the biggest, fastest and best cars would take on Brands Hatch with some of the most infamous drivers in history behind the wheels. Drivers such as Jochen Rindt, Jacky Ikxx, Clay Regazzoni, Derek Bell, James Hunt, Niki Lauda and of course Ayrton Senna would race their chosen wild animal around the terrifying lap commonly going hugely airborne over Dingle Dell which has now been re-profiled to avoid this…. Sadly!
Skip to current day and Brands Hatch has without a doubt hosted the biggest championships in history. It has a winners book that can be rivaled by very few and has barely changed since the 1960’s. That can’t be said about many tracks these days.
RMA Track Days has been enjoying taking customers there for over 20 years and still hosts a track day there every few months. With their ‘overtake either side’ policy it allows you to enjoy the track with full freedom. But as always, disrespect the rules or another driver with aggressive moves and you’ll find yourself with a one-way ticket out of the paddock tunnel!
They will be heading there next on May 31st. If you’d like to join them and experience the incredible piece of history that is Brand Hatch Grand Prix Circuit then follow the link to book.