Brands Hatch

Brands Hatch

Motorsport venue
Name = Brands Hatch Circuit
Location = Kent, England

Events = British F3, A1GP, British Superbikes, SBK, BTCC, Pickup Truck Racing, DTM, WTCC
Layout1 = GP Circuit
Length_km = 3.703
Length_mi = 2.301
Turns = 9
Record_time = 1:09.593
Record_driver = Nigel Mansell
Record_class = F1
Record_team = Williams-Honda FW11
Record_year = 1986
Layout2 = Indy Circuit
Length_km2 = 1.929
Length_mi2 = 1.198
Turns2 = 6
Record_time2 = 0:38.032
Record_driver2 = Scott Mansell
Record_class2 = EuroBOSS
Record_team2 = Mansell Motorsport
Record_year2 = 2004

Brands Hatch is a motor racing circuit in Kent, England. First used as a dirt track motorcycle circuit on farmland, it hosted 12 runnings of the British Grand Prix between 1964 and 1986 and currently holds many British and international racing events. The name of the circuit may derive from the Gaelic "Brondehach" ("bron" meaning "wooded slope" and "hach" meaning "forest entrance").

The circuit

Brands Hatch offers two layout configurations: the shorter 'Indy' layout (1.198 miles) is located entirely within a natural amphitheatre offering spectators views of almost all of the shorter configuration from wherever they watch. The longer 'Grand Prix' layout (2.301 miles) played host to some spectacular Formula One racing over the years; events such as Jo Siffert's duel with Chris Amon in 1968 and future World Champion Nigel Mansell's first win in 1985. Noise restrictions and the proximity of local residents to the Grand Prix loop mean that the number of race meetings held on the extended circuit are limited to just a few per year (usually for higher-profile series such as A1 Grand Prix and the WTCC).

The full Grand Prix circuit begins on the Brabham Straight, an off-camber, slightly curved stretch, before plunging into the right-hander at Paddock Hill Bend. Despite the difficulty of the curve, due to the straight that precedes it, it is one of the track's few overtaking spots. The next corner, Druids, is a hairpin bend, negotiated after an uphill braking zone at Hailwood Hill. The track then curves around the south bank spectator area into the downhill, off-camber Graham Hill Bend, and another, slightly bent stretch at the Cooper Straight, which runs parallel to the pit lane. After the straight, the circuit climbs uphill though the decreasing-radius Surtees turn, before moving onto the back straight where the track's top speeds can be reached. The most significant elevation changes on the circuit occur here at Pilgrim's Drop and Hawthorn Hill, which leads into Hawthorn Bend. The track then loops around the woodland with a series of mid-speed corners, most notably the dip at Westfield and the blind Sheene's curve. The track then emerges from the woods at Clearways and rejoins the 'Indy' circuit for Clark Curve with its uphill off-camber approach to the pit straight and the start/finish line.


Originally used as a military training ground, the field belonging to Brands farm was first used as a circuit by a group of Gravesend cyclists led by Ron Argent. cite web |url= |title=e-Tracks: Brands Hatch |accessdate=2007-01-18 |work=e-Tracks: World Motor Racing Circuits] Using the natural contours of the land, many cyclists from around London practiced, raced and ran time trials on the dirt roads carved out by farm machinery. The first actual race on the circuit was held in 1928, over 4 miles between cyclists and cross-country runners. Within a few years, motorcyclists were using the circuit, laying out a three-quarter mile anti-clockwise track in the valley. Brands Hatch remained in operation during the 1930s, but after being used as a military vehicle park and being subject to many bombing raids during World War II, it needed some work for it to become a professional racing circuit.


Brands Hatch Stadium Ltd. was formed in 1947cite web |url= |title=Brands Hatch |accessdate=2006-01-18 | GP Encyclopedia] and saw the circuit surfaced in April 1950 to create a 1 mile oval course suitable for cars. The Half Litre Car Club for 500 cc Formula 3 organised the first race on the 16th April, and in 1953 the Universal Motor Racing Club was established, with a racing school set up at Brands Hatch. The Half Litre Club, later to become the British racing and Sports Car Club, ran many races throughout the '50s and firmly established the venue as one of Britain's top circuits.

The track continued to expand in 1953 and 1954, with the addition of Druids Bend (lengthening the circuit to 1.24 miles), a pit lane and spectator banks and reversing the racing direction to clockwise. [cite web |url= |title=Brands Hatch Race Circuit |accessdate=2006-01-26 ] The aftermath of the 1955 Le Mans disaster resulted in many race circuits in the country and abroad being closed down for safety reasons, but Brands Hatch was able to comply with new safety requirements, hosting its first Formula 2 race in 1956.

Hosting Grands Prix

The 2.65 mile Grand Prix circuit was constructed in 1959, and the track hosted its first major motor racing event in August 1960, the non-championship Silver City Trophy Formula One race, won by Jack Brabham. Soon after, the track was sold to Grovewood Securities, and John Webb put in charge of Motor Circuit Developments to manage the circuit. The new ownership saw successful negotiations with the RAC to hold the British Grand Prix jointly with Silverstone, alternating years. On July 11 1964 Brands Hatch held its first Formula One World Championship race, the 1964 British Grand Prix (also designated as the RAC European Grand Prix), won by Jim Clark.

The deaths of George Crossman, Tony Flory and Stuart Duncan in the mid-60s and Jo Siffert in October 1971 led to major safety modifications around the track. During the 1970s Brands Hatch took over the running of the annual Formula Ford Festival (which it still holds to this day) in addition to hosting an IndyCar race. The track also hosted the 1983 and 1985 European Grands Prix, the former with under three months notice following the cancellation of the proposed New York Grand Prix. [cite web |url= |title=Grand Prix Results: European GP, 1983 |accessdate=2007-01-20 | GP Encyclopedia] [cite web |url= |title=Auto Race Plan For Flushing Meadows Is Put Off For Year |accessdate=2007-01-20 |date=1983-06-03 |work=New York Times] To date, the final Grand Prix held at Brands Hatch was the 1986 British Grand Prix won by Nigel Mansell.

List of Grands Prix hosted

Grands Prix held with the title "European Grand Prix" are indicated with a light blue background.

Recent years

In 1986, John Foulston bought Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Snetterton circuits from Grovewood Securities and established the Brands Hatch Leisure (BHL) company. The following year, the company acquired Cadwell Park before Foulston died testing a McLaren IndyCar at Silverstone. Ownership of BHL passed to his wife Mary, but the company was run by John Webb until 1990, when daughter Nicola Foulston took over the running. In that time, Brands Hatch hosted higher-profile series such as Formula 3000 and Superbike World Championship racing. 1988 saw further changes to the circuit layout, with a chicane added at Dingle Dell Corner, while Westfield Bend and Graham Hill Bend were tightened. New pits and a corporate entertainment facility were added in the late-1990s.

In 1999, Foulston announced that Brands Hatch had acquired the rights to the British Grand Prix from 2002. [cite web |url= |title=F1 returns to Brands |accessdate=2007-01-18 |date=1999-05-14 |work=BBC News] Whilst discussions were ongoing with regards to planning permission to bring the circuit up to F1 requirements, Foulston sold BHL to Octagon Motorsports (a subsidiary of Interpublic) for £120 m. [cite web
url= |title=The Company File: Brands Hatch takeover |accessdate=2007-01-18 |date=1999-11-09 |work=BBC News
] Octagon, however, failed to obtain the necessary planning permission and instead decided to lease Silverstone in order to host the Grand Prix. [cite web
url= |title=Brands Hatch gives up British GP |accessdate=2007-01-17 |date=2000-12-03 |
] However, high-profile single-seater racing did return to Brands Hatch in 2003, when a round of the CART series was held at the circuit. [cite web |url= |title=Champ Car series to do battle at Brands Hatch in 2003 |accessdate=2007-01-18 |date=2003-01-09 |] Despite attracting around 40,000 spectators [cite web |url= |title=Champ Car World Series Returns From Successful European Swing |accessdate=2007-01-18 |date=2003-05-13 | ] the race was not retained for subsequent seasons.

With financial pressures stemming from running the British Grand Prix, [cite web |url= |title=The problems at Octagon Motorsports |accessdate=2007-01-17 |date=2002-10-18 |] Octagon sold off the group of four circuits, [cite web |url=|title=Completed acquisition by Motorsport Vision Ltd of Brands Hatch Circuit Ltd & Brands Hatch Leisure Ltd |accessdate=2008-08-19 |date=2004-05-24 |format=PDF |work=Office of Fair Trading] including Brands Hatch, to the Motorsport Vision group headed by ex-F1 driver Jonathan Palmer in 2004. [cite web |url= |title=Palmer leads Brands Hatch purchase group |accessdate=2007-01-17 |date=2004-01-05 |]

Current events

The circuit currently has a curfew of 1830 due to a housing estate built near to Clearways bend. Race engines cannot be started until after 0830 and must be turned off by 1830. [cite web |url= |title=Trackday regulations |accessday=2007-01-19 |work=MotorSport Vision] Despite this, Brands Hatch holds race meetings on almost every weekend during the motorsport season, ranging from small club series to major international races attracting up to 50,000 spectators. Major race series include:
*A1 Grand Prix
*World Touring Car Championship
*British Touring Car Championship
*Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters
*British Formula 3
*British GT
*Superbike World Championship
*British Superbike Championship

During the week the circuit offers some general test days and driving experiences, and can also be hired out for private testing and track days.


The outright lap record for the Grand Prix configuration is 1:09.593, set by Nigel Mansell in his Williams-Honda at the circuit's last Formula One Grand Prix in July 1986. [cite web |url= |title=1986 British Grand Prix |accessdate=2007-01-18 |] The record on the shorter Indy layout is 38.032 seconds, set by Scott Mansell with a Benetton B197 during the 2004 EuroBOSS season. [cite web |url= |title=Mansell breaks Brands Hatch lap record |accessdate=2007-01-18 |date=2004-05-25 |work=MotorSport Vision]


External links

* [ The 500 Owners Association]
* [ Brands Hatch Home Page]
* [ BTCC Pages - Brands Hatch circuit guide]
* [ Snappy Racers - Resident Brands Hatch Photographer]
* [ Steve McQueen raced at Brands Hatch]
* [ A1GP info of Brands Hatch]
* [,0.263157&spn=0.010117,0.019956/ Satellite view of Brands Hatch on Google Maps]

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