Thruxton Circuit

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Bill Boddy

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Work is advancing satisfactorily at Thruxton, the circuit which will be the B.A.R.C.’s substitute for Goodwood since His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon decided that there would be no more racing at the Sussex venue. The new circuit encircles Thruxton aerodrome, just to the West of Andover, off the A303, on the right-hand side going towards Amesbury, about 67 miles from London.

The lap-distance is slightly less than at Goodwood, at 2.356 miles. The circuit is exceptionally wide, at 48 feet (Brooklands had a width of 100 feet, but it was of a different period and intended for racing of a different kind) so that there should be no bunching at the corners and a lap-speed at Easter of over 100 m.p.h. by the F.2 cars is visualised. The map shows how the corners and fast curves vary from right to left and how they carry traditional names. One of the most difficult sections is expected to be the very fast Village Curve and Church Corner, an area from which the public will be prohibited, although otherwise they are free to walk round about two-thirds of the perimeter. To reduce speed coming into Club Corner and the approach to the pits it has unfortunately been deemed necessary to have a chicane at this point. The circuit is lapped clockwise. There is a proper service-road to the 32-bay pit area.

The club offices and B.A.R.C. and public enclosures are situated outside the course. The only entrance road, which is being widened to two-lane, connects with a minor road leading on to the A303. This entrance gives access to grass parking space on either side, with a capacity for some 11,000 cars. The Paddock, race-control building, time-keepers’ box, and possibly a Press enclosure and car park will be on the inside of the circuit and a footbridge may be put up to give access during racing. The Paddock, being part of the rather rough main runway, has hard-standing but no shelter from the sun or rain. By using Club runway, a short Club circuit of about 1.4 miles would become available, but this, and the possibility of permanent rentable buildings for teams and commercial firms, are for the future. It may be possible to have a skid-pan, on which visitors can drive their own cars. For the Easter Monday International Meeting, bars in both the Members’ enclosures will be open, and a temporary closed grandstand will be erected opposite the pits. This stand, and the pits structure, will be dismantled between meetings, to comply with planning regulations. Shell hope to have petrol on sale in the Paddock and the B.B.C. has been given facilities to televise, Dimmock permitting, from Allard Corner.

The cost of converting Thruxton into a race circuit exceeds £75,000. The perimeter fencing has cost £5,000 and the safety fencing a like amount. Goodwood-style ditches backed by earth banks safeguard the enclosures, from which a very good view of the racing should be obtainable. The levels undulate about as much as at Silverstone. As Thruxton is already the haunt of light aeroplanes, visitors by air will have good facilities (the radio call sign is 123.5). In fact, the aviation petrol pumps lie between the chicane and the pits’ approach-road and will have to be protected by special barriers.

The track surface is similar to that which proved effectively nonskid and petrol-proof at Goodwood, being of bitumen-base small-chip granite, laid by the Wirksworth Asphalt Co. The earthworks have been undertaken by Fairchild Bros., fencing has been the responsibility of Goodman Bros., of Bristol, and the p.a. contract has gone to S.R.E. of Bristol, who operate at Castle Combe. Catering will be done by Wyborne Catering Services, who supply these facilities at Snetterton. The race-control building is a Portakabin with plug-in telephones, etc.; the pits will be supplied by the Bateman Tool and Engineering Co. A caravan will contain Press telephones, and a small uncovered Press stand is envisaged at the Easter racing.

My feeling is that Thruxton will provide fast, interesting racing on account of its wide curves but that the venue will, inevitably, be more bleak than Goodwood, being inland and on a plateau. The police are confident traffic problems can be solved and coming out on to A303 adjacent to a fast dual-carriageway will presumably be no worse than emerging on to the main road at Brands Hatch. The grass packing and single entrance/exit road may cause delays and the lack of a tunnel or vehicle bridge connecting the Paddock with outer space is regrettable. In the summer, traffic is congested through Andover, so those coming from London will have to bear with the one-way single-lane diversion which the Police put into operation round the town.

It is hoped to have a Thruxton practice day on March 2nd, and definitely a Club meeting there on March 17th. The main race at the Easter Monday Meeting will be for F.2 cars; it is hoped Clark and Hill will compete. (What a pity the old Goodwood opener of a F.1 try-out cannot be revived at Thruxton.) Practice will be on the Saturday only, admission being free to the holders of tickets booked in advance, otherwise at 5s. a head. Prices of admission “on the day” are available from the B.A.R.C. London office. Goodwood-style B.A.R.C. double brooch-sets will be issued at £5 and singles at £3 5s., available from the Thruxton enclosures —W. B.

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