The New Brands Hatch Track Opens

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ONE day last month the Press were invited to Brands to view the extension to this popular little circuit which lengthens it to 2.65 miles. The sponsors have spent a great deal of money on this project in the hope that it will be considered as a future Grand Prix circuit. The estimated cost of £40,000 includes the building of two bridges crossing the track, a new tunnel underneath it from the Paddock, two new Grandstands and a set of concrete pits on the inside of the top straight. With these facilities it is hoped to entice crowds of up to 100,000 out from nearby London and to encourage the R.A.C. to allow the British G.P. to be held there in the near future. To show that the track is fully capable of accommodating a Formula 1 race the B.R.S.C.C. have organised a meeting for August Bank Holiday which will include a race for Formula 1 machines. A representative entry front most of the factory teams is expected to appear. Entries have been promised from Lotus, Cooper, Yeoman Credit and possibly Ferrari, only B.R.M. of the factory teams not being entered.

The new circuit commences at Kidney bend, turning this into a sharpish left-hander which never seems to end. At this point a bridge passes over the circuit to take spectators into the central area. The track continues uphill for about a quarter of a mile passing close to Druids bend on the old circuit then drops downhill under another bridge (which looks terrifyingly close to the ground at first sight— actually it is nine feet high) and on to an uphill right-hander which leads into Portobello straight, which is only about 200 yards long.

Westfield bend follows this straight and turns through a similar angle to the previous corner. This is followed by a steep downhill drop and a quick uphill swoop where the faster cars will have to brake fiercely for a sharp right-hander which is immediately followed by a sweeping left-hander called Stirling’s bend (the corner is not named after S. Moss but takes the name of a nearby farm).

This last corner has been inserted to slow the cars down as this brings them out above the old Clearways corner which would otherwise be taken much too quickly for safety. As it is the central hump of grass makes the second half of the corner entirely “blind” and quite dicey for the newcomer.

Several cars and drivers were present at the track including Tony Brooks in a Yeoman Credit F.2 Cooper, and after a number of warming-up laps he got down to 1 min. 49.4 sec. (87.20 m.p.h.), which indicates that a Formula 1 car properly set-up for this track should have no difficulty in averaging 90 m.p.h., although the nature of the circuit ensures that the driver concentrates practically the whole time as the top straight is about the only part of the circuit where a driver could relax his concentration for a few seconds. Paddock bend has been partly resurfaced in an attempt to prevent drivers front spinning off into the grass bank but the variety of skid marks from the Tuesday Cooper School showed that it still has to be treated with respect.

After the racing cars had been cleared away the circuit was opened for a free-for-all with everything from A35s to G.T. Lancias carving each other up. In the Assistant Editorial Sprite it soon became evident that this new circuit places a premium on acceleration and cornering ability. The Sprite was a bit out of breath climbing the two steepish hills but most of the corners seemed made for it except for Kidney which is a bit too slow for top gear and a little too fast for third. It is to be hoped that the large stones which border the track can be moved, as any car leaving the circuit in a spin would throw a good deal of dirt and stones into the path of following cars.

Driving round the track gives the impression that one is at the Nurburgring, as certain twisting parts which are bordered by trees bear a very close resemblance to the German circuit and offer the same dangers to drivers who lose control.

All in all the new Brands Hatch could be a real rival to Britain’s only other road Circuit, Oulton Park, and bearing in mind its close proximity to London it may easily take the British Grand Prix away from Silverstone and Aintree.—M. L. T.