From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Brooklands was a motor racing circuit built near Weybridge in Surrey, England. The brainchild of Hugh Locke-King, it was opened on June 17 1907 and was the first custom built race track in the world.
Requirements of speed and spectator visibility led to the track being built as a 100ft wide, 2.75 miles long, banked oval. The banking was nearly 30 feet high in places. In addition to the oval, a bisecting "finishing straight" was built, increasing the track length to 3.25 miles, of which 1.25 miles was banked.
Due to the complications of laying tarmac on banking, and the expense of laying asphalt, the circuit was built using gravel and cement. This led in later years to a somewhat bumpy ride, as the surface settled over time.
Along the centre of the track ran a dotted black line, known as the Fifty Foot Line. By driving over the line, a driver could theoretically take the banked corners without having to use the steering wheel.
Eleven days after the circuit opened, it played host to the world's first 24 hour motor event, with Selwyn Edge leading three specially converted Napier cars around the circuit. Edge drove his car for the full duration, with the drivers of the other two cars taking the more familliar shift approach.
Brooklands also became a factory airfield, which in 1909 saw the first flight of an English aircraft by an English pilot - Alliot Verdon-Roe. He subsequently set up the aircraft manufacturer Avro. Later, Bleriot, Sopwith and Vickers all set up production at Brooklands. Some flight testing took place at nearby Wisley aerodrome which offered a longer runway and less built-up surroundings.
Grand Prix motor racing was established at Brooklands in 1926 by Henry Segrave after his winning of the French Grand Prix in 1923 and the following year at the Spanish Grand Prix which raised interest in the sport in Britain.
During the Second World War, a section of the autodrome banking was removed to allow Wellington Bombers access to the airstrip. Trees were also planted into the concrete of the circuit to help screen the air-base.
After that war, the circuit was consequently undriveable, and has since become home to the Brooklands Museum, which celebrates the site's racing and aeronautical heritage.
The remaining sections of track were the subject of a preservation order in 2001, rendering illegal any subsequent destruction of the circuit. There are occasional fly-ins, rallies attended by light aircraft, arranged on summer weekends and a fragment of the original runway is used on such occasions.