At the request of some of our readers overseas and elsewhere to whom Brooklands is but a name, we are including this article so that they can, we hope, get a better idea of it. Those who already know it should turn to another page—Ed.
The man who is visiting Brooklands for the first time is usually surprised at its size. He has often read in the daily press how the “speed kings” hurtle round the “concrete saucer” and some people are quite sure that if they saw a race at Brooklands it would make them giddy.
The track measures 2¾ miles, the curve of the Members banking has a radius of 1,000 feet, that of the Byfleet banking being 1,500 feet, so that if a man ever suggested that he felt giddy at Brooklands I should advise him not to watch any more racing from the bar.
Some idea of the size of the track and the points of interest to the spectator can be gathered from the sketch map. The finishing straight is not used for finishing but it is used as the starting point for most of the long races and for short races the cars go up to the start this way. It is really the starting straight.
The surface is composed of concrete which is laid in strips each strip being at a different level from its neighbour, whether this is done on purpose or not I don’t know, but motoring on Brooklands is distinctly good for the inevitable liver.
There is one thing against the paddock at Brooklands, one cannot see the racing. The stand there faces the finishing straight so that the only thing one can see is the cars going up to the start and coming in after the race. But the Brooklands authorities have at last realised that some people do go to Brooklands to watch the racing and there is going to be a stand right opposite the finish over in the Railway Straight ; this will be a great help as at present to see the race at close quarters one has to dodge several gate keepers and policemen. It seems as if these men have received orders not to allow anyone to see anything of the racing and possibly this is why so many people imagine that the surface of the track is comparable to that of a billiard table. A few laps in a racing car at anything over 100 m.p.h. will soon convince anyone who imagined this to be the case. The first time the writer went round the track in a racing car it was to oblige someone who wanted his rev, counter read at different points on the lap. This sounded easy but a little 100 m.p.h. motoring soon made it appear that there was not one but many rev, counters, one above the other varying in number size and position to such an extent that it really seemed as if lunch had not been arranged with as much discretion as it should have been. But no it was only Brooklands ! Another fallacy which is soon removed by experience is the idea that all the curves are banked. Not so the one past the Vickers sheds, which is a perfectly good right hand bend on the flat, and motorcycles crashing past the lap scorer’s box with the bars almost grazing the side will be seen to be banked well over to get round—that is if the watcher manages to see anything but a cloud of dust, and a glimpse of a crash helmet.
That is only one of its many sides, but Brooklands to anyone who knows it is—well—just Brooklands, a spot with an atmosphere of its own. To the average visitor who is not normally a motor enthusiast it is a concrete track situated in a picturesque part of Surrey, where great “speed kings” fight desperate battles to improve the speed and endurance of their own particular brand of car.
Driving down to the paddock from the entrance gate one might almost be in a private estate, woodlands, rhododendrons and other shrubs on each side of a normal drive (except for some suspicious looking skid marks). Sundry notices advise one to drive slowly which seems to be the signal for everyone to accelerate and roar through the tunnel under the track, into the paddock. On a Race day this paddock is like a bee-hive of overailed figures, blue, white, and some that once were either, a smell of petrol and castrol pervades the air, the voices of bookies can just be heard above the roaring of engines which are tuning or warming up for the next race.
To the on-looker is seems rather as if the owners of these low noisy cars left the assembling of the engine till the last few minutes, or else feeling over anxious picked it to pieces to be sure that nothing was missing. After a glance round the cars and a few awed glances at the drivers the visitor usually drives back up the way they came branching off to the right before sighting the gate across the Members’ Bridge on to the top of the test hill. In front of the refreshment rooms here are large green lawns where members of the B.A.R.C. park their cars and take up their position for a good view of the race. Loud speakers boom from every corner latest paddock news intermingled with all the new dance records. Impromptu meals are the order of the day, people dash from gazing at the members’ banking to the bridge to gaze feverishly down the Railway straight, chewing sandwiches or gulping down drinks as the cars flash past with their marvellous whining roar, which is all part of the fascination of Brooklands. On hot days the heat is almost tropical as the sun beats down on the concrete, yet it does not prevent the keen from dashing down the Test hill to see a finish at the fork, and immediately dash up again to take the car along the road past the Aeroplane sheds to watch events from the Byfleet Bridge. Overhead aeroplanes hum drearily the while, taking passengers on short circular trips, occasionally diving low as if to borrow a little of the crowd’s attention from the cars. There are always breath-taking moments at a big meeting, one car overtaking another high upon the banking leaving a tyre-track to show just how perilously near the top it really went, a terrific skid corrected in the right manner, or again a “dog-fight “, the term commonly applied to a bunch of cars all together each striving desperately to attain the lead without unduly crowding its rivals.
In the future no doubt bigger and better courses will replace it, in fact it obviously will be necessary to use such, but it will be difficult to regain the atmosphere that the pioneers of motoring have given to this track amongst the pine trees at Weybridge.