A Promising New Racing Venue near Chester
When testing a Frazer-Nash Targa Florio Turismo sports car last month we seized the opportunity of combining business with pleasure. First, we motored to Derby to keep an appointment with W. E. Harker and his Harker Special. The next day we left Chester, where a Trust House had provided accommodation after all the more obvious hotels in the main street had proved to be full, your Editor being incensed for some obscure reason because he was not allowed to reverse the Frazer-Nash into the hotel garage.
On the Sunday morning we went to a cold, misty Hoylake in search of an elusive vintage Darracq and after lunch in Tarporley presented ourselves at Oulton Park for a preview of the new road circuit, which was opened only last year.
This road circuit is set in delightful parkland. somewhat reminiscent of pre-war Donington. The road is amply wide, taking four cars abreast, comfortably, there are dips and small hills in the best road circuit tradition, and the corners vary considerably in character and are all “interesting,” some more so than others because they are approached “blind.” Starting from the pits, where a permanent bridge spans the road, a fine long right-hand curve leads to a short straight, after which the Cascades are seen as two parts of a right-hand bend, followed by Range Corner. Coming out of Range Corner the course runs uphill through a fast left-hand bend into Druids Corner, after which the longest straight occurs, to Lodge Corner, where the Frazer-Nash used all the available road. A left-hand uphill curve takes one back onto the Paddock straight.
The surface is smooth tarmac on a foundation of stones and credit is due to the contractors, Thomas Ashley, Ltd., who are so expeditiously completing the new loop.
So far all the major corners are right-hand, the 1 1/2-mile circuit being lapped clockwise, but before the opening event, the B.R.D.C. British Empire Trophy Race on April 10th, the new loop will almost certainly be in use, providing a fast left-hand sweep off the existing circuit, two sharp right-hand bends, and a parallel leg rejoining the present course in a practically “flat-out” bend. This new loop, which will bring the lap distance up to 2 1/4 miles, is expected by the experts to increase lap speeds to a record of above 80 m.p.h. It will cut out the only really dangerous part of the present circuit, where a car could fall down an embankment into a lake if it got out of control on Range Corner, and the spectators will get a splendid view of the corners and both new legs from a hill between.
Later, it is the intention to cut out the sharp corners uniting the two legs of the loop, extending the latter further and joining them with an Avus-like banked turn. This, besides further increasine lap speeds, will result in a full lap of 2.74 miles.
Spectator amenities at Oulton Park should bring the crowds back time and time again. For example, there are six exits to avoid long delays in getting away after the races; the spectators will be free to walk not only round the outside of the circuit, but may cross to the inside by two bridges. The car parks are on a sandy soil unlikely to give trouble even in the wettest weather and covered grandstands may be completed before the end of this season.
Pits already exist adjacent to the Paddock, which has hard-standing, a covered scrutineering bay and a large refreshment marquee. Proper lavatory accommodation is being carefully attended to and a big scoreboard is operated from the Paddock, while a Nevil Lloyd commentary will be provided.
Admission fees will probably vary meeting by meeting, but are expected to average the modest sum of 4s. to 6s. per person, with a car park fee of about 10s., pre-booking with a useful rebate being visualised.
Oulton Park is owned by Sir Philip Grey-Egerton. Bt. The circuit will be controlled by Cheshire Car Circuit, Ltd., of which the Directors are as follows: Chairman, M. S. L. Faulkner; Managing Director, Paddy Denton; Committee, Messrs. E. H. Wright, Rex Foster, Norman Johnston, Kenneth Roberts and Harry Wilton. The Mid-Cheshire C.C. will organise meetings and provide marshals, etc.; their President is Reggie Tongue and their Secretary is R. B. Dawson, S. Wakefield looking after the competition side. It is hoped that newspaper support for this promising successor to Donington will be forthcoming and the circuit is certainly most encouraging, of true road-race character, and ideally situated for Midland enthusiasts, Chester being the nearest big town.
The following dates should be transferred to your diary without delay: April 10th, B.R.D.C. Empire Trophy Race — a sports-car event in two heats and a final, with class handicaps; June 26th, Mid-Cheshire C.C. National Meeting; July 10th, Half-Litre C.C. National Meeting, to embrace F Ill, F I and sports cars; August 7th, Mid-Cheshire C.C. International Meeting, when a 100-lap long-distance race is favoured. Details are obtainable from 29, Eastgate Row North, Cheshire.
After being entertained to tea by Mr. Faulkner, who has a two-carburetter, electric-gearbox Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire (he has owned and raced Bugatti, Aston Martin, Delahaye, etc.), we resumed our ‘Nashing, fog driving us to Stone, in Staffordshire, where the Crown Hotel not only accommodated us most comfortably, but produced a welcome meal at nearly 11 p.m., with a true Continental flair.
The Monday morning found us sniffing round the Kieft factory at Wolverhampton before retreating over the Welsh border in order to convince ourselves that, in a Frazer-Nash, it is possible to average an easy 50 m.p.h. from there home to Hampshire, including a refuelling stop.—W. B.