Racing in the UK offers the opportunity to compete on some of the best race tracks in the world. From the glamour and excitement of the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit to the intimate and challenging nature of Oulton Park the UK has the diversity to challenge both car and driver.
Racing at Brands Hatch dates back to the 1930’s when motor cycles raced anti-clockwise on a three quarter mile dirt track. The circuit was surfaced in 1950 and the first race meeting for cars was held on the 16th April 1953. Throughout the 1950’s the circuit continued to expand and the 4.26km (2.65 mile) Grand Prix circuit was completed in 1959, but due to changes in ownership, it wasn’t until 1964 that Brands Hatch was able to host its first British Formula One Grand Prix, which alternated between Silverstone until 1986. Shortly after, the circuit was sold to the Foulston family, new pits and paddock facilities were added and by 2002 the circuit again began to attract high profile events such as CART, A1 GP, DTM and WTCC. Today under ownership of Jonathon Palmer’s company MSV, Brands Hatch hosts a verity of events including rounds of the DTM, BTCC, British F3/GT and British Superbikes as well as the ever popular Formula Ford Festival.
Built in 1933 by Fred Craner, Donnington Park was Britain’s first permanent circuit racing venue. Racing began in March 1933 and hosted pre Formula One Grand Prix between 1935 and 1938. At the outbreak of WW2 the site became an MOD vehicle depot. After the war ended in 1945 the circuit remained closed until 1971 when businessman Tom Wheatcroft bought the circuit and racing resumed in 1977. In 1985 the Melbourne Loop was added increasing the circuit length to 4.02km (2.5 miles) allowing it to host more prestigious events. Donnington Park was then becoming one of Britain’s foremost motorsports venues and in 1993 Wheatcroft’s dream of hosting a Formula One Grand Prix finally became reality. Other major events followed including a 1000km Le Mans endurance race, World Series by Renault, Moto GP and British Superbikes. In 2007 a 150 year lease was agreed with Donnington Ventures who took over running of the circuit and quickly announced plans to host the British GP from 2010. However, the concept proved too ambitious as the company failed to secure the financial backing it needed and went into administration. In 2009 the Wheatcroft’s assumed running of the circuit and it was reopened in August 2010.
Nestled at the heart of the Lincolnshire country side, approximately 8km (5 miles) from the town of Louth is one of the UK most picturesque racing venues, Cadwell Park. The first circuit layout was completed in 1953 by Mansfield Wilkinson and featured corners named after family members such as Mansfield, Charlie’s and Chris Curve. In 1962 the circuit was lengthened into roughly the configuration it is today and went on to host rounds of the British Formula Three Championship. Today the circuit is considered too narrow for major car events, although it still remains popular with club competitors and annually hosts rounds of the 750MC F4 and Monoposto Championships. The undulating track is built upon the steep slopes of a valley, creating some extreme changes in gradient and unique features such as the mountain and goose neck. There are two distinctly different sections to the full circuit, the first half of the lap features quick flowing corners built on open ground. The second half of the lap takes you through a wooded area with tight and twisty bends all of which combine to make Cadwell and extremely challenging and unique circuit.
Snetterton race circuit is located in rural Norfolk. Originally a second world war US Air Force base, it was closed in 1948. Racing began in the 1960’s when Lotus started using the circuit for testing its Formula One car’s.
Britain’s premier motorsports venue opened in 1948 and hosted the first ever Formula One World Championship Grand Prix in 1950. The British Grand Prix rotated between Silverstone, Aintree and Brands Hatch until 1987 after which Silverstone became the sole venue of the British Grand Prix. Over its long history the circuit configuration has changed many times. The arena circuit was completed in time for the 2010 British Grand Prix with all new pit and paddock facilities completed the following year. Silverstone is without doubt Britain’s busiest racing venue and club racing events are frequently held on the shorter National Circuit layout, however in recent years the ‘Monoposto Racing Club’ have organised a non championship race on the full Arena circuit, supporting the Britcar 24hrs.
Many of Britain’s race tracks were converted from Second World War air bases and Castle Comb is no exception. The airfield was operational between 1941 and 1948 and became a circuit racing venue in 1950. At less than 3km (1.9miles) long the circuit is shorter and faster than most, although chicanes were added in 1999 following an accident which left a spectator fatally injured. Unfortunately Castle Comb is another circuit which has fallen victim to local council noise regulations and is no longer able to host major events. Despite this setback club level motorsport continues to thrive with a selection of local and national championships taking place on most weekends.
Situated in the grounds of Oulton Hall a few miles outside Chester is Oulton Park racing venue. The track was developed by a local car club in the 1950’s and hosted the annual International Gold Cup, a non-championship Grand Prix that attracted many of the day’s top Formula One teams and drivers. The event is still run today and is a highlight on the classic racing calendar. Oulton Park is one of Britain busier racing circuits with many headline events held throughout year including British F3/GT, British Superbikes, Formula Ford and British Touring Car Championship. The full circuit consists of seventeen corners in just 4.3km (2.7miles) of race track although there are two shorter layouts the Island Circuit 3.6km (2.3miles) and the Fosters Circuit 2.7km (1.7 miles). Now owned and run by MSV, the circuit has benefitted from much needed investment with improvements in circuits safety and pit/paddock facilities. A favourite among many club and professional drivers Oulton Park is considered one of the most challenging and exciting circuits in Europe.
Anglesey (Trac Mon)
Despite first gaining MSA approval for circuit racing in 1997 the track was almost entirely dug up in 2005. A new much larger circuit was completed in 2006, featuring four different layouts; the Coastal Circuit 2.5km (1.55 miles), National Circuit 1.9km (1.2 miles), Club Circuit 1.3km (0.8 miles) and the International Grand Prix Circuit 3.4km (1.55 miles). The new Anglesey circuit is very popular among club competitors and track day enthusiasts and is regularly used to film features for the TV show Fifth Gear.
Original circuit maps attributed to Will Pittenger and adapted under the assumed license of "Creative Commons".
Located in the county of Leicestershire only a few miles from the M1 Mallory Park “The Friendly Circuit” has long been a favourite of club racers and spectators. The circuit was original built in the 1940’s for an equestrian club, however was later pressed into use as a motorsport venue. Initially motorcycles raced on a oval dirt track, but by the mid 1950’s the circuit had been surfaced and was hosting a number of major circuit racing events. The circuit configuration has changed over the years, (aimed at slowing down the Motorcycles), however cars still use the classic layout which makes Mallory Park one of the fastest circuits in the UK with laps being covered at average speeds in excess of 100mph a regular occurrence. General testing is held on Wednesday morning’s throughout the year.
Located a short distance from the village Pembrey on Wales’ picturesque south coast lies the circuit bearing the name. The land was acquired in the early 80’s by the local council and after lobbing by the Welsh Racing Drivers Association (WRDA) agreed to the construction of the circuit. The track was completed in 1989 and the following year a lease was agreed with the BARC who took over day to day running. Despite being built relatively recently Pembrey has held a verity of events including British F3 and rounds of the British Touring Car Championship. Pembrey has also been used extensively for testing purposes with many of the top UK based Formula One teams making use of circuit. Today the circuit is mainly used by club competitors and is a firm favourite on the 750MC calendar.
Croft Aerodrome in North Yorkshire was home to British and Canadian bomber squadrons during war time Britain. Form the late 1940’s the site was used by Darlington and District Motor Club for several years and fully converted into a race track in 1964. Although the circuit hosted a range of high profile events the focus turned to rally cross during the late 80’s and early 90’s. A complete redevelopment commenced in 1997 taking the overall circuit length to 3.42km (2.13miles) and included new pits and control builds as well as much improved paddock facilities. Major national championships soon returned including British Touring Car’s, British Superbikes, British F3/GT and Formula Ford. A controversial legal case was brought against the circuit in 2008 by local resistance, complaining about the noise. As a result the number of “noisy” days Croft are able to operate has been limited to just 40 per year. Despite this the Croft remains one of the UK’s most popular venues for cars and bikes.