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Brands Hatch.png
Brands Hatch Circuit
Location Kent, England
Active from N/A - present
Major events British Grand Prix
FIA WTCC
FIA Formula Two Championship
A1GP
BTCC
Pickup Truck Racing
DTM
British Formula Three Championship
Superleague Formula
Surface N/A
Length 2.613 mi (4.206 km)
Turns 9
Lap record 1:09.593 (Nigel Mansell, Williams-Honda FW11, 1986, F1)

Brands Hatch is a motor racing circuit near Swanley in Kent, England. First used as a dirt track motorcycle circuit on farmland, it hosted 12 runnings of the British Grand Prix between 1964 and 1986 and currently holds many British and international racing events. The name of the circuit may derive from the Gaelic Brondehach (bron meaning "wooded slope" and hach meaning "forest entrance").<ref name=etracks/>

The circuit

Brands Hatch offers two layout configurations: the shorter 'Indy' layout (1.198 miles) is located entirely within a natural amphitheatre offering spectators views of almost all of the shorter configuration from wherever they watch. The longer 'Grand Prix' layout (2.301 miles) played host to some spectacular Formula One racing over the years; events such as Jo Siffert's duel with Chris Amon in 1968 and future World Champion Nigel Mansell's first win in 1985. Noise restrictions and the proximity of local residents to the Grand Prix loop mean that the number of race meetings held on the extended circuit are limited to just a few per year (usually for higher-profile series such as A1 Grand Prix and the WTCC).

The full Grand Prix circuit begins on the Brabham Straight, an off-camber, slightly curved stretch, before plunging into the right-hander at Paddock Hill Bend. Despite the difficulty of the curve, due to the straight that precedes it, it is one of the track's few overtaking spots. The next corner, Druids, is a hairpin bend, negotiated after an uphill braking zone at Hailwood Hill. The track then curves around the south bank spectator area into the downhill, off-camber Graham Hill Bend, and another, slightly bent stretch at the Cooper Straight, which runs parallel to the pit lane. After the straight, the circuit climbs uphill though the decreasing-radius Surtees turn, before moving onto the back straight where the track's top speeds can be reached. The most significant elevation changes on the circuit occur here at Pilgrim's Drop and Hawthorn Hill, which leads into Hawthorn Bend. The track then loops around the woodland with a series of mid-speed corners, most notably the dip at Westfield and the blind Sheene's curve. The track then emerges from the woods at Clearways and rejoins the 'Indy' circuit for Clark Curve with its uphill off-camber approach to the pit straight and the start/finish line.

Origins

Originally used as a military training ground, the field belonging to Brands farm was first used as a circuit by a group of Gravesend cyclists led by Ron Argent,<ref name=etracks>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> with the permission of the local farmer and landowner, Harry Write. Using the natural contours of the land, many cyclists from around London practised, raced and ran time trials on the dirt roads carved out by farm machinery. The first actual race on the circuit was held in 1928, over 4 miles (6.4 km) between cyclists and cross-country runners. Within a few years, motorcyclists were using the circuit, laying out a three-quarter mile anti-clockwise track in the valley. Brands Hatch remained in operation during the 1930s, but after being used as a military vehicle park and being subject to many bombing raids during World War II, it needed much work before it could become a professional racing circuit.

Upgrades

Brands Hatch Stadium Ltd. was formed in 1947<ref name=GPE> Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> and saw the circuit surfaced in April 1950 to create a 1-mile (1.6 km) oval course suitable for cars. The Half Litre Car Club for 500 cc Formula Three organised the first race on the 16th April, and in 1953 the Universal Motor Racing Club was established, with a racing school set up at Brands Hatch. The Half Litre Club, later to become the British racing and Sports Car Club, ran many races throughout the 1950s and firmly established the venue as one of Britain's top racing circuits.

The track continued to expand during 1953 and 1954, with the addition of Druids Bend (lengthening the circuit to 1.24 miles), a pit lane and spectator banks<ref name=etracks/> and reversing the racing direction to clockwise.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> The aftermath of the 1955 Le Mans disaster resulted in many race circuits in the country and abroad being closed down for safety reasons, but Brands Hatch was able to comply with the new safety requirements, hosting its first Formula Two race in 1956.

Hosting Grands Prix

The 2.65-mile (4.26 km) Grand Prix circuit was constructed in 1959,<ref name=etracks/> and the track hosted its first major motor racing event in August 1960, the non-championship Silver City Trophy Formula One race, won by Jack Brabham. Soon after, the track was sold to Grovewood Securities, and John Webb put in charge of Motor Circuit Developments to manage the circuit. The new ownership saw successful negotiations with the RAC to hold the British Grand Prix jointly with Silverstone, alternating years. On July 11, 1964 Brands Hatch held its first Formula One World Championship race, the 1964 British Grand Prix (also designated as the RAC European Grand Prix), won by Jim Clark.

The deaths of George Crossman, Tony Flory and Stuart Duncan in the mid-60s and Jo Siffert in October 1971 led to major safety modifications around the track.<ref name=GPE/> During the 1970s Brands Hatch took over the running of the annual Formula Ford Festival (which it still holds to this day) in addition to hosting an IndyCar race in 1978. The track also hosted the 1983 and 1985 European Grands Prix, the former with under three months notice following the cancellation of the proposed New York Grand Prix.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref><ref>{{#if: Auto Race Plan For Flushing Meadows Is Put Off For Year

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Recent years

In 1986, John Foulston bought Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Snetterton circuits from Grovewood Securities and established the Brands Hatch Leisure (BHL) company. The following year, the company acquired Cadwell Park before Foulston died testing a McLaren IndyCar at Silverstone. Ownership of BHL passed to his wife Mary, but the company was run by John Webb until 1990, when daughter Nicola Foulston took over the running. In that time, Brands Hatch hosted higher-profile series such as Formula 3000 and Superbike World Championship racing. 1988 saw further changes to the circuit layout, with a chicane added at Dingle Dell Corner, while Westfield Bend and Graham Hill Bend were tightened. New pits and a corporate entertainment facility were added in the late-1990s.

In 1999, Foulston announced that Brands Hatch had acquired the rights to the British Grand Prix from 2002.<ref>{{#if: F1 returns to Brands

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 }}|Template error: argument title is required.}}</ref> Octagon, however, failed to obtain the necessary planning permission and instead decided to lease Silverstone in order to host the Grand Prix.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> However, high-profile single-seater racing did return to Brands Hatch in 2003, when a round of the CART series was held at the circuit.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> Despite attracting around 40,000 spectators<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> the race was not retained for subsequent seasons.

With financial pressures stemming from running the British Grand Prix,<ref> Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> Octagon sold off the group of four circuits,<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> including Brands Hatch, to the MotorSport Vision group headed by ex-F1 driver Jonathan Palmer in 2004.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

Current events

The circuit currently has a curfew of 18:30 due to a housing estate built near to Clearways bend. Race engines cannot be started until after 08:30 and must be turned off by 18:30.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> Despite this, Brands Hatch holds race meetings on almost every weekend during the motorsport season, ranging from small club series to major international races attracting up to 50,000 spectators. Major race championships include:

During the week the circuit offers some general test days and driving experiences, and can also be hired out for private testing and track days.

Records

The outright lap record for the Grand Prix configuration is 1:09.593, set by Nigel Mansell in his Williams-Honda at the circuit's last Formula One Grand Prix in July 1986.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> The record on the shorter Indy layout is 38.032 seconds, set by Scott Mansell with a Benetton B197 during the 2004 EuroBOSS season.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

External links

Further reading

  • Chas Parker (2008). Brands Hatch. The definitive history of Britain’s best-loved motor racing circuit. Haynes Publishing, Yeovil. ISBN 978-1-84425-334-0.
  • Chas Parker (2004). Motor Racing at Brands Hatch in the Seventies. Veloce Publishing, Dorchester. ISBN 978-1-904788-06-5.
  • Chas Parker (2009). Motor Racing at Brands Hatch in the Eighties. Veloce Publishing, Dorchester. ISBN 978-1-84584-214-7.

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