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Template:Motorsport venue 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").[1]

The circuitEdit

File:Paddockhillbendtop.jpg

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).

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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.

OriginsEdit

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. [1] 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.

UpgradesEdit

Brands Hatch Stadium Ltd. was formed in 1947[2] 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[1] and reversing the racing direction to clockwise.[3] 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 PrixEdit

The 2.65 mile Grand Prix circuit was constructed in 1959,[1] 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.[2] 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.[4][5] The final Grand Prix held at Brands Hatch was the 1986 British Grand Prix, with victory going to Nigel Mansell.


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