Tracks: Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey, UK

Opened on June 17, 1907 it was the first banked motor race circuit in the world and the first ever oval style race track built for cars. Up to a 100 feet wide and 4.3km long (check out this 1938 map) it was built on the site of two farms owned by the instigator Hugh Locke-King. Used extensively up until World War Two, when it was taken over by the military, someone thought it might be a good idea to destroy some of the banking in an attempt to camouflage the facility. Thus ending the circuit’s circuit career.

At its height though, it would regularly accommodate up to 250,000 spectators, and see 24hr races with ‘Gents’ running speeds of up to 230kph  on skinny tires and occasionally getting airborne over the bumps. Finally receiving a preservation order in 2001, the remaining track sections (made entirely of concrete) were given a certain future through the help of Sir Stirling Moss and the Earl of March (see Brooklands Society). The circuit also had close ties with the aviation industry through local industry and the siting of an airfield in the middle.

You simply must visit the track and walk up the members’ banking section. It’s so steep that its real ‘hands and knees’ stuff toward the top.

Visit the Brooklands Museum website

By Phil Clark

Opened on June 17, 1907 it was the first banked motor race circuit ...

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Tracks: Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco

Hard to make out from an aerial image but this is a challenging 3.3km street circuit dishing up a heady cocktail of armco barrier mayhem with royal glitz and glamour, all served up at the seaside. Established in 1929, it is considered to be the most prestigious automobile race in the world alongside followed by the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (the Triple Crown of Motorsport).

The track has seen very little revision over the years, due to its unique location, and famously Alberto Ascari even made it into the harbour in 1955. Featured extensively in the 1966 film Grand Prix, they even re-enacted a similar stunt for James Garner’s character. To give you a sense of what its like to drive around Monaco you can either try it out on Playstation, Xbox or listen to the wise words of Triple F1 champion Nelson Piquet “its like trying to cycle round your living room,” but added that “a win here was worth two anywhere else”.

http://www.acm.mc/

By Phil Clark

Hard to make out from an aerial image but this is a challenging 3. ...

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Tracks: Hungaroring, Hungary

A very tight and traditionally dusty track, this circuit near Budapest is 4.9km in length and has been quite a regular fixture in recent F1 times. Often described as better looking and more interesting from a drivers perspective, via the letterbox window in the driver’s helmet, rather than via beamed TV coverage it is considered quite a challenge.

Providing something of a culture shock to both Hungarians and F1 teams alike, Budapests infrastructure and economy struggled significantly to support the race in the early years. In 1997, reigning world champion Damon Hill, driving an underpowered and under-developed Arrows somehow managed to monster his car into competitive form and challenged for the race win. The whole of Britain stopped to watch as each heart-in-mouth lap unfolded, then suddenly a technical problem struck and he had to ‘give way’ to Jaques Villenueve, settling for second.

http://www.hungaroring.hu/

By Phil Clark

A very tight and traditionally dusty track, this circuit near Buda ...

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Tracks: Prince George Circuit, East London, South Africa

Located in a picturesque coastal town of East London, in the East Cape province, East London has deep colonial roots. Opened in 1959 the track hosted three F1 South African Grand Prix in the early 1960s, two of which were won by Jim Clark and the other one by the mustachioed Graham Hill. Ultimately though it was deemed that the circuit was not large enough to accommodate F1 cars, and future races moved to Kyalami.

By Phil Clark

Located in a picturesque coastal town of East London, in the East ...

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Tracks: Donington Park, Leicestershire, UK

Opened in 1931 the circuit used tracks and paths in the parkland at the front of Donington Hall, initially just for motorcycle racing, but then after a bit of persuasion (and a few beers) the Gents up at the hall sanctioned it for the use of cars. Most famous latterly for the 1993 round of the European F1 Grand Prix Ayrton Senna stunned the world with his ‘lap of the gods’ around the 4 km circuit. Senna started in fourth place on the grid, then lost a place at the start, but by the end of the first lap he was in first place, having overtaken Schumacher, Wendlinger, Hill and Prost. All of this in the pouring rain.

The track nowadays features rounds of the British Touring Car Championship and MotoGP, and also houses The Donington Grand Prix Collection houses the largest assembly of McLaren racing cars in the world, the only complete collection of Vanwalls and also features the world’s largest collection of driver’s Helmets.

Visit Donington Park’s website

By Phil Clark

Opened in 1931 the circuit used tracks and paths in the parkland a ...

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Tracks: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico

It is named the Rodríguez Brothers Racetrack with good reason, after the famous national motorsport sons Ricardo and Pedro Rodríguez. The circuit was built in 1962, in a public park (presumably there was no other space in this urban sprawl) to host a Mexican Grand Prix round of F1, due to the country’s interest in their national heroes.

It’s a bumpy track, due to the constant shifting of tectonic plates in the region, and has an elevation of 2,285m above sea level providing not much oxygen for engine and driver alike. The original 5km track has been revised a few times, in order to host F1 in the 1980s, as well as currently providing an annual round of the NASCAR Busch Series. Apparently in its heyday you had to watch out for spectators who liked to cross the track when ‘they’ thought it was safe.

http://www.autodromohermanosrodriguez.com.mx/

By Phil Clark

It is named the Rodríguez Brothers Racetrack with good reason, af ...

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Tracks: Monza, Italy

Monza means fast in motorsport language, interpreted either in the (decaying) 4.25 km high speed track with steep bankings, or the current 5.8km Grand Prix track. It was full throttle stuff for much of the lap. With the first circuit configuration harking back to 1922, the venue is now surrounded by mature parklands, providing atmosphere and a real sense of occasion to any event, especially when hosting the Italian F1 Grand Prix.

The high speed oval track is immortalised in the 1966 film Grand Prix, directed by John Frakenheimer and starring James Garner. Due to a string of fatalities in previous races it was not used since the filming of the movie.

http://www.monzanet.it/eng/default.aspx

By Phil Clark

Monza means fast in motorsport language, interpreted either in the ...

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Tracks: Brands Hatch, Kent, UK

Starting out as a dirt track for bikes on farmland in Kent, Brands Hatch has seen some spectacular action from some even more spectacular F1 heroes. The circuit oozes with class act names like Hill, Surtees, Clark, Brabham and Hawthorn bestowed on different features of the track, showing its roots for F1 hosting the British Grand Prix for 21 years from the mid ’60s. Bruce McLaren also won the race of Champions in his own car here in 1968.

The circuit has two configurations, the longer 3.7km one being used for Grand Prix meets and the shorter 1.9km Indy circuit being used for smaller fry stuff. Normally run clockwise, for some reason those piloting two wheels around the circuit were allowed to hold races in the opposite direction. The highlight for me is the sweeping uphill run into the tight Druids Bend hairpin with plenty opportunity for being last on the brakes, or first in the tyres.

http://www.brands-hatch.co.uk/

By Phil Clark

Starting out as a dirt track for bikes on farmland in Kent, Brands ...

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