If you love cars and are a bit of a history buff then if you haven’t been to Brooklands near Weybridge in Surrey then you should get yourself down there. Brooklands is the home of British motor racing.
Brooklands was the idea of Hugh F Locke King and the concrete oval was built in 1907. It is the world’s first purpose built banked motor race circuit. The Motor Car Act (1903) imposed a 20 mph speed limit on all public roads. At the time almost half of the cars produced in the world came from France and in Britain there was a fear that this could hinder testing of British motors at sustainable high speeds. Brooklands was the answer to this problem. Comprising 100ft wide and 2.75 metres long it is a banked oval and can hold up to 287,000 spectators and was built according to specific track and viewer specifications. The track was opened on 17 June 1907 with Charles Rolls driving one of the 43 cars which formed a procession and the last race was held in 1939. Sadly, the circuit can no longer be driven on but several video games including Spirit of Speed 1937 simulate driving on the circuit. The Museum’s F1 simulator, a genuine McLaren F1 car, also includes a computer simulation of the pre-war race track.
The Brooklands Museum is the crown jewel of Brooklands. I’ve been there a few times and although I am not a petrol head I absolutely love going around the museum. There are many beautiful vintage cars on display in the museum and its sheds. For instance, the Vauxhall Grosvenor Saloon and the Morris F2 3 wheeler. Some really old racing models are quite interesting such as the Aston Martin ‘Razor Blade’ and the Napier Railton. The latter oozes motoring racing historical success as the car broke 47 world record speeds between 1933 and 1937 at three venues including Brooklands. Since 2004 the central area of Brooklands has been owned by DaimlerChrysler UK Retail. In 2006 Mercedes Benz World opened up and includes a huge show room of extensive Mercedes Benz cars, including vintage and concept cars.
My favourite display is the F1 car which is broken apart into pieces and suspended in the air so you can see how all the individual parts fit together. I really love it and I think it is a brilliant and unique idea. The car is a Mercedes GP Petronas and it is an artwork which they have called View Suspended II. It was put together by a Dutch artist called Paul Veroude and curated by Artwise Curators. The car is split up into 3,200 components and each is individually suspended by wire from a purpose built frame. The results allow the view to see the whole racing chassis to be deconstructed to get a view that you would never see otherwise.
Brooklands is also the home to one of Britain’s first airfields and it became the largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918. Nowadays, Brooklands is also a museum for aviation as well as motoring. One of the last few remaining Concordes, in fact the last one with public access in the south east, is located at Brooklands. You can visit it and even get married in inside! Over 30% of every Concorde airframe, both British and French, was manufactured at the site. The museum also houses the Concorde Simulator which trained all British Airways Concorde aircrew for nearly 30 years. Visitors can watch the Simulator in its demonstration mode.
Brooklands has lots of events all the time for adults and children alike. Visit their site to find out more.