The Worlds first purpose-built motor circuit, at Brooklands, was built by local landowner Hugh Locke King on his estate at Weybridge in Surrey. Work started in late 1906, and within an astounding 9 months he had built a 2.75-mile banked oval of concrete, 100ft wide, with a further -mile finishing straight and associated clubhouse and other buildings.

Eldrige in Mephastopheles leading Parry Thomas in Leyland Thomas on banking, c.1926. Courtesy of Brooklands Museum

Eldrige in Mephastopheles leading Parry Thomas in Leyland Thomas
on banking, c.1926. Courtesy of Brooklands Museum

The first official race was held on the 6th July 1907 and was greeted by the press as a Motor Ascot. Because Brooklands was the worlds first purpose-built motor racing circuit there were no established rules to follow. To begin, with many of the procedures were based on horse racing traditions partly in an attempt to attract a ready-made audience to this new and curious sport. Cars assembled in the paddock were shod with tyres, weighed by the Clerk of the Scales for handicapping and drivers were even instructed to identify themselves by wearing coloured silks, just like jockeys.

John Cobb in the 24 litre Napier Railton taking the 'bump' on the Members' Banking. 1935 coutesy of Brooklands Museum

John Cobb in the 24 litre Napier Railton taking the
‘bump’ on the Members’ Banking. 1935
coutesy of Brooklands Museum

Racing stopped at Brooklands during World War One (1914-18) and resumed again in 1920. Throughout the 1920s the British Automobile Racing Club continued to organise big popular race meetings that drew the largest crowds. In 1926 the RAC organised the first ever British Grand Prix and repeated the event the following year.

In 1939, with the declaration of war, motor racing at Brooklands ended forever.

Useful Links

J G Parry Thomas

Brooklands

Napier Railton racing car

Brooklands Museum

Weybridge

20th Century Surrey

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