After Mr Locke King had seen a continental motor race he returned to his Weybridge estate with the idea of having a motor race track there, so that the British motor industry, faced with a public road speed limit of 20mph, could test and compete with the Europeans. He had visualised one without banked corners but was persuaded by a railway engineer that steep bankings would be needed as the cars were eventually expected to lap at over 120mph. This resulted in a much more costly enterprise than Locke King had visualised.
The project went ahead, making Brooklands the first circuit with steep bankings. It opened in 1907, preceded by the first assembly of cars that would be using it, causing great interest. The publicity-seeking S F Edge took the 24-hour record at an average of 65.905mph in a 60hp Napier.
The opening meeting attracted more than 13,000 people, forecasting the immense interest the Track would develop in the following years.
It was not only car racing that attracted visitors. In 1907 a Frenchman, a Monsieur Bellamy, secured £100 from Mr Locke King to give a flying demonstration in an aircraft with a modified 50hp Panhard-Levassor car engine, but he never got airborne and soon departed. It was not until 1909 that the first public demonstration of flying took place at Brooklands, when the French ace Louis Paulhan flew his Henry Farman biplane, with Ethel Locke King as his brave passenger.
Later in 1913 at Brooklands, Adolphe Pegoud (right) was the first pilot publicly in Britain to ‘loop the loop’. He was also the first pilot to make a parachute jump. As aeroplane meetings became more commonplace at Hendon those at Brooklands continued to provide its more serious flying days.
Motorcycle racing became almost as much a feature as car racing, after a February 1908 match race between Gordon McMinnies on his 3.5hp TT Triumph and Oscar Bickford on his 5hp TT Vindec Special, McMinnies winning at an average of 53.55mph. The BARC Secretary Mr E de Rodakowski invited prominent motorcyclists to stage a two-lap race at the Easter Monday meeting that year. Of the 22 riders, Will Cook won on his 7.9hp Peugeot at 63mph.
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Away from the action?
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