Although I’ve covered Brooklands before here on this blog I feel I need to reiterate just how special this place is! It opened in 1907 as the World’s first purpose built racing track. Land speed records were broken here as were distance records, the site was also host to Sunday afternoon racing and 24 hour events. Brooklands is also one of Britain’s first aerodromes and in later life became an aircraft manufacturing and test centre in WW1 which became the sites primary use leading into World War 2 and beyond with the track closing in 1939.
Today, the site is a museum dedicated to both the motoring and aeronautical history of the site. It is really worth checking out as they are host to a fantastic display of cars, bikes, aircraft and more that you would not get the opportunity to see elsewhere. I have covered the museum itself in a separate blog post which you can find here: https://motorsportformentalhealth.com/2016/09/16/brooklands/
What I didn’t do on that day however was get to walk on the remains of the track. Sadly with the tracks closure a lot of land was sold off and developed. The long banked corner “Members Banking” remains as well as the finishing straight which has just finished being refurbished and we were able to walk along it.
You’ll probably think I’m mad for saying this but you know how some places have an energy to them? That you can almost feel the emotions felt by those who came before? This section of race track had that. Standing there you could almost hear and see the cars flying around the circuit and the gentleman in smart suits and the ladies with big hats watching them whilst sitting atop straw bales and wooden grand stands. To feel that energy is only an experience I have had a couple of times: Here, at the battlegrounds at Ypres and aboard the medical bay at HMS Belfast. That energy truly defines a special place to me.
Anyway, enough about the place lets talk about the event! Double Twelve consisted of a driving test and Concours d’Elegance that featured a wide range of road and race cars ranging from the very early 1900s to the late 1980s. I always enjoy events that feature such a wide variety of cars as you always see something you didn’t expect and there is something there to suit everyone’s tastes.
As you enter Brooklands there is a Grand Prix museum to your left and some 1920’s looking garages to the right. This marked the start of the car show. Along this promenade were numerous prewar racing cars…
Along with a couple of more ‘modern’ race cars including this lightly modified Renault 5 Turbo.
There were a couple of road cars on this section too. A highlight for me was this 1937 BMW. This particular example was right hand drive which I would imagine is pretty rare considering the global politics of the time and Germany’s relationship with us and the commonwealth countries that drive right hand drive.
Around the corner from that was the main show and shine area which honestly took up most of the museum’s open ground. Most of the cars in this section were Pre World War 2 British sports cars, many of which would also be competing later.
Along with large Grand Touring cars such as the 4.5 litre Bentleys. These things are huge! Ettore Bugatti referred to them as “the world’s fastest lorries”
There were plenty of early race cars on display too including the mighty Napier Railton and Bluebird.
Along with Grand Prix cars such as this Bugatti…
…As well as this rather unusual MG. The car had twin tyres over one large rear wheel and was super charged. If anyone has any information in this machine please get in touch!
There were quite a few pre World War 1 also on display. I don’t care what anyone says, these Edwardian horseless carriages are the epitome of class!
The racing itself was a time trail. The were various stages which tested different aspects of the cars performance. At the end of the run the times taken on each stage are added up and the car that completed the course in the least time takes the victory.
The first stage was a hill climb. The cars would start at the bottom of the hill and power there way up to the top. It sounds easy but it’s a really steep hill! Hopefully you will be able to see that in the pictures.
The next stage was on the members banking. This was a mixed test of handling, braking and speed. This was basically the first of several courses that ran around bales of hay. The distance between the points was quite long so the fast cars would have an advantage here but if you could turn the car pretty much on the spot you made up a lot of time which levelled it out as the sports cars can turn better than the bigger GT cars.
The final tests consisted of three shorter handling stages. These were really tight courses around hay bale obstacles. The sports cars really came into their element here!
At the end of the day the finishing straight was officially re-opened and the Napier Railton and Bluebird gave a demonstration! Fantastic machinery!
All in all it was a superb day. The track was a good over all test of the cars competing and the concours brought together some really rare and unusual machinery.
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