FACTS ABOUT BROOKLANDS.
By CAPT. A. W. PHILLIPS, M.C. THE idea of the Track was conceived by Mr. Locke King, who, himself an ardent motorist, watched the growth of the automobile industry both in England and abroad, and saw that our manufacturers were handicapped in their struggle to progress by the lack of any real testing ground for new productions. The 20 m.p.h. speed limit, which was strictly enforced at that time, precluded any idea of high speeds on the road, and so Mr.. Locke King allocated a large portion of his Weybridge estate as a site for Brooklands Track. At that time speeds of 60 m.p.h. were almost unheard of, but, thanks to the foresight of the designers, the Track is still safe for speeds of more than double the mile a minute pace which everybody struggled so hard to attain in the early days. Indeed, it is a moot point as to whether Brooklands, which is one of the oldest
motordromes in the world, is not still the fastest. Certainly the maximum speed which can be attained down the Railway Straight is greater than that possible on any other track, though speed is admittedly lost up the rise on to the Members’ Banking, and possibly
on the curve past Vicker’s Sheds.
Characteristics of the Track.
In shape the Track is not circular, as so many people fondly imagine, but it rather takes the shape of a pear, with the stalk somewhere about the tunnel at the Members’ Entrance. The actual length of a complete circuit measured on the centre line is 2 miles 1,350 yards, or approximately two and three quarter miles. When it is remembered that it would take a normal person about three-quarters of an hour to once walk round, some conception can be formed of its size. Incidentally Mr. J. G. P. Thomas has lapped it on his LeylandThomas in r minute 18 seconds, which rather puts one off the idea of walking round ! The width is ioo feet, and this applies to the whole Track save at the Fork, where the lead-in of the Finishing Straight naturally increases the width somewhat. The curves of the Track are struck at a radius of -1,000 feet and 1,500 feet respectively, the smaller, or sharper, being that round the Hill to the beginning of the Railway Straight. The bankings on the curves were naturally provided to enable cars and cycles to take them without diminution of speed, and the maximum height is on the Members’ Banking, where it reaches to 28 feet 8 inches. One of ‘the most amusing sights the Track can offer is to watch anybody attempting to climb the banking on foot. They start so boldly, and usually finish by turning hurriedly round and slithering down again. As the concrete which comprises the surface is decidedly slippery I should say it would be practically impossible for anybody to climb the banking at its steepest point unless equipped with rubber soles, and even then it would be no easy task.
How to Use the Track.
Providing there are no races in progress, the track can be used by anybody between the hours of opening
and closing, which vary according to the season of the year, on payment of the standard charges. To a Member of the Brooklands Automobile Club it is free, whether with a car or motor cycle. Members of the British Motor Cycle Racing Club have the same privilege, but only with a motor cycle, whilst to ordinary members of the public the charge is ten shillings for a car and five shillings for a motor cycle per day. And it is well worth the money, for I know of no finer tonic when one feels clogged with the stale atmosphere of Londoii town than to flit down to Brooklands and, with the wick turned well up, speed round the Track for a while amid the scent of pines and the sight of the heather.
In order to become a Member of the B.A.R.C., affectionately known as the ” Bark,” it is necessary to be proposed and seconded by two members. The entrance fee is five guineas, and the annual subscription the same. For this amount one is provided with a most pleasing badge, together with two ladies’ brooches, the latter much coveted as hat ornaments. This small badge is the open sesame to Brooklands at all times, admits to all race meetings, passes in one’s car, takes one on to the Track, into the Members’ Bar, and generally gives one a feeling of ownership and homeliness. The ladies’ brooch, which is transferable, as regular visitors to the Track must have noticed, admits the wearer in the same way as will the pukka Members’ badge, but is not a pass on to the Track itself. The B.M.C.R.C. specially caters for the motor cyclist, and for three guineas gives him admission to and the right to use the Track and free admission to B.A.R.C. and B.M.C.R.C. race meetings. The next thing to consider is what to do when one is there. Starting at the bottom of the scale, and going up, there is first the non-race day, when one turns up for a ” either to work off the effects of a previous one the night before or to do a spot of serious work in testing out a new car or accessory. For either of these the procedure is simple. One arrives and, after presenting one’s badge or paying the admission fee, is entitled to use the Track. But remember, when leaving the Paddock, not to dash out into the Straight and get on to the Track via the Fork. One slips through the iron gate by the Shell depot and up the slope, joining the Track where it emerges from behind the Hill. And it is as well to join it cautiously, for it is apt to shake one a little to drive boldly on to the Track and narrowly escape a collision with some roc) m.p.h. monster engaged in testing tyres to destruction, or committing some other form of mild insanity. One leaves the Track by coming down the Finishing Straight, and so into the Paddock again. If a stop is intended on the way round, bays are provided for the purpose, and at the end of the run the bar will be found up the stairs at the corner of the Paddock ! If it is desired to weigh the car or its contents, a most excellent weighbridge is provided, and Mr. Walker will gladly operate the scale for a charge of one shilling. Petrol and oil FACTS ABOUT
can be obtained in the Paddock ; the charges are normal, and the petrol must be paid for !
Hints for Racing Novices.
Here is a sport which for pure unalloyed excitement beats anything I know. And, withal, it need not be expensive. Of course, if one intends to run a fleet of cars, with a battalion of mechanics and advisers to look after them and tune them, then motor racing becomes a rich man’s game. But the owner of a sports model car or motor cycle can put in quite a lot of racing at Brooklands, and, considering the fun he has had, be very little out of pocket. It is, perhaps, advisable for the beginner not to enter one of the open B.A.R.C. meetings for his first venture, although there is nothing to prevent him from doing so, but to try his ‘prentice hand with one of the Clubs such as the Essex or the M.C.C. or the Surbiton, all of which run mixed car and motor cycle meetings during the season. At any of these a novice will be able to get the hang of the business at a lower cost than he would were he to enter right off in the biggest events of the year. In order to compete in races organized by the Clubs mentioned, however, it is necessary to become a Member, as they are all closed meetings, but the B.A.R.C. meetings, being open, do not require any preliminary membership, all and sundry being welcome on payment of the entry fee. There are, however, certain rules and regulations to be observed, no matter by whom a race is organized. These are set out in extenso for car drivers in the Racing Rules of the B.A.R.C., and for motor cyclists in the Racing Rules and Supplementary Regulations of the B.M.C.R.C., both of which can be obtained at the Track. Other Clubs promoting meetings naturally make their own regulations, but they follow closely the standard rules adopted by the two premier racing bodies. In addition to the accepted rules referred to, there are a few matters which it is as well to bear in mind. Do not make humorous remarks when filling up your entry form. Remember the handicapper depends on the information you supply to a certain extent, and if you attempt to be funny or to mislead him it usually ends in your being rated at about half as fast again as you really are. Handicappers cannot afford to take chances. Besides, if you do once contrive to get a gift in the way of a handicap, your lap speeds will rapidly reveal the true state of affairs, and though you may win that particular race, it will be a long time before you win another. For all open meetings both entrant and driver must be on the Competitors’ Register of the R.A.C. or the A.C.U., according to whether the race is for cars or cycles. No cars or motor cycles equipped with metal-studded tyres are allowed to compete in any race. Motor cycles must be provided with metal discs, 12 inches in diameter, and so fixed as to be plainly visible at right angles when the machine is being ridden. It is as well to own a pair of these discs, but they can be borrowed at the Track. Car drivers would also be well advised to arrange for a detachable disc for their numbers to be painted on, otherwise they may be put to the agony of watching
the ubiquitous Dicker doing his best to completely ruin their beautiful paintwork. Brakes are essential, and every car must be equipped with a bonnet strap at least x inch wide and inch thick. Finally, there are very definite silencing regulations in force at the Track, and these are rigidly enforced. Every car or motor cycle must be equipped with a standard Brooklands silencer, failing which it will not be permitted to race. Even with the standard silencer fitted, if the car or cycle is still noisy it will be ignominiously bundled from the Track and consigned to outer darkness. Just one more point on the question of racing. There are two black lines painted on Brooklands Track. One is at the end of the Finishing Straight ; it commences in the last 50 yards of the pull up, and curves round on to the main Track. It is called the Limit Line, and all riders or drivers must keep inside it when pulling up at the end of a race, as failure to do so may involve disqualification. It may also involve a trip over the iop of the banking into the bushes. The other black line is close to the outside edge of the Track at the end of the Byfleet Banking, and is for the guidance of drivers in getting off the banking and negotiating the curve at Vickers’ Sheds. This line should be kept on the right hand, otherwise it may prove extremely difficult to get off the banking properly, with consequences that may prove rather terrible.
The final outlet for one’s activities at Brooklands is in attempting to break records, but as this is a job for the expert with a really hot stuff car or cycle, this is hardly the place in which to offer hints as to what to do and when to do it. One little point, however. It is generally accepted that the object of breaking records is to advertise a particular car, cycle or accessory ; the more publicity that can be obtained, therefore, the better. What is the object, then, in getting up in the shivery dawn and, without telling a single soul of your intentions, save the official timekeeper, to sneak out on to the Track and break about ten world’s records before the ordinary world has finished its morning struggle with the bacon and egg question ? Nobody knows, of course, but there is a Press Secretary attached to the Track, part of his duties being the dissemination of news relating thereto. But the Press Secretary cannot send out reports of things he does not know are happening. It is difficult to define the subtle fascination of the Track, although rude folk might suggest it is the brand of beer sold there. I think it is the suggestion of speed and adventure that lurks elusive in. the wide sweeps of the Track, or possibly it is the startling contrast of the quiet green pine trees that fringe the Track with the hurly-burly of a closefought race ; or, perhaps, it is the kaleidoscopic crowds that throng the Hill and Paddock on a big day ; or, perhaps, it is just the wonderful Brooklands ladies. I do not know. It may be any, all, either or none ; but the appeal is there, and, once it has gripped you, to Brooklands you belong for ever, and ever, and ever