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Sprint Venues


Here is a list of venues that are used by some of the speed championships run in the South East of England. As you can see some of these venues are nowhere near the South East! What follows are my personal views on the venues in question, except for the asterisked venues which I have not visited and where I have used a description from the Sevenoaks & District Motor Club Speed Events year book. Often people are nervous about damaging their car so I have made a note if a venue is notorious for accidents, or whether it is very safe.

Abingdon nr Oxford, Oxfordshire

Abingdon is unique in that the event has 2 separate courses. In the morning half the entrants tackle the Bentley course while the others do the Abingdon course. The Bentley course is laid out on the main runway. It consists of 4 longish straights connected by 2 90 degree bends, a hairpin and 2 chicanes. Each straight is about 300 yards long so powerful cars can reach 3 figure speeds. The Abingdon course is more curvy but again it is a real power course. It is pretty much flat out for well over 1/4 mile before a chicane slows you right down and leads you back out to a 1/4m straight, round a high speed 90 left and across the finish.

Brands Hatch nr Fawkham, Kent

Sprints take place on the Indy circuit which is 1.2 miles long. The hire fee is astronomical so the entry fee is high. Even so there is a full entry here. Used once a year in February when the weather can be pretty horrible making the circuit even more demanding. The sprint is usually 2 laps from a standing start. The start is either on Cooper Straight or from the Pit Lane. Paddock bend is far more fearsome when you are driving it than when you are spectating! Click for map (15K)

Brighton Speed Trials Sussex

Held annually on Madeira Drive, Brighton. The speed trials vary in length from year to year. It is currently 1/4 mile long after a fatal accident on the 1/2 mile course in 1994. Always a big crowd with lots of interesting cars. Being a straight line blast it is very safe in a 'slow' car like a 7 replica. Unlike all the other venues detailed here you need a National A speed licence to compete at Brighton which means no beginners.

Castle Combe nr Biddestone, Wiltshire

This proper racing circuit hosts sprints on a regular basis. The course starts near the finish line and is less than 1 lap, finishing just after Tower. Very fast venue. The infamous Quarry bend normally claims a few victims at each meeting. Good spectating. Approximately 1.5 miles long. Click for map (20K)

Cornbury Park nr Charlbury, Oxfordshire

This is an annual event hosted by the Jaguar Drivers Club. The course is best described as being like a hilclimb on the flat. A long straight will see speeds of over 100mph away from the start line before a 90 degree right takes you into a winding section through some trees, over a crest and on to the finish. 1230m long.

Crystal Palace SE London

This famous venue was host to Grands Prix in the past and Sevenoaks Motor Club organised a sprint for 1997 which should become an annual fixture. The course starts on the old pre-war circuit before a hairpin bend takes you onto the Grand Prix circuit. An artificial chicane slows the action before a long right hander sweeps you into a wooded section and onto the finish straight.

Curborough nr Alrewas, W Midlands

Mainstay of sprinting in the midlands this purpose built track is very short (900 yds) and very twisty. The surface is also slippery if it is wet. Has a short straight at the finish that features a speed trap. Click for map (18K)

Debden nr Saffron Walden, Essex

2 sprints a year are held at this challenging military base. From the start line to the first roundabout is nearly 1/3 a mile and is on a continually tightening left hander. Speeds of about 100mph are attainable on this section and you then have the difficulty of slowing to about 20mph for a mini roundabout while having to tighten your line all the time. After coming back along the same road you make a 90 degree left hander onto the main runway which leads to a hairpin bend that takes you through the Go-Kart circuit (watch out for the tyre barriers) followed by a quick squirt down to the finish. Big run-off areas make this a fine venue while also being very technical. One of my favourites and always oversubscribed. 1.1 miles long. Click for map (29K)

Goodwood nr Chichester, Sussex

The historic circuit that effectively ended the career of Stirling Moss. The fastest circuit in the UK, its 2.4 mile lap will be completed in about 90 seconds from a standing start by a quick 7 replica. Can be tough on engines as quite a few cars are flat out for longish periods on the run to St Mary's and then on the Lavant straight. Despite the high speeds there are not that many accidents here probably due to the big run-off areas. Some sprints use 1 lap and others 2. On a 2 lapper your approach to the first corner (Madgwick) is a lot quicker! Click for map (16K)

Harewood * nr Leeds, W Yorkshire

Found 'up north', where this venue has a huge following for its difficult 1448 metre course. Excellent spectator facilities are provided by an enthusiastic land onwer, and this is a must for any serious hillclimber. Click for map (24K)

HMS Daedalus nr Lee-on-Solent, Sussex

No, not an aircraft carrier! This is one of those naval bases on land that is called HMS for some strange reason. An annual event that uses perimeter roads and runways. The course has a good mixture of fast sweeping bends and incredibly tight hairpin bends.

Longleat Wiltshire

Situated in the grounds of Longleat House, Wiltshire. The course is 1200 yards long and the first half of it has a very slippery surface - tiny little polished stones in concrete. A challenging right over a crest is followed by a sweeping left hander and a tight hairpin which precedes a rough section of road leading to the finish. Click for map (40K)

Lydden nr Shepherdswell, Kent

Another real racing circuit near Dover. Spectating is brilliant here as you can see the whole circuit from most locations. Sprints start in the pit lane and consist of 1 3/4 laps finishing after the Devil's Elbow. Paddock bend is very difficult and normally accounts for at least 1 write off at each meeting. Chessons Drift often has chalk all over the surface which makes it slippery. The Devils Elbow also causes a fair few cars to spin although being pretty slow there is usually no damage. Click for map (20K)

Llys-y-Fran * Dyfed

In Wales, a charming hillclimb set close to a reservoir and parkland. 725m long.

Millbrook nr Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Famous for having the worst toilets of any sprint venue in the universe, this is definitely a driver's course. This is part of the GM/Lotus development facilities. The first part of the course is on the 'city circuit' which is incredibly tight and twisty. After about half a mile a couple of 90 degree right handers take you onto the high speed handling course. Near the start of this is a right hander over a sharp crest which always produces a lot of spinners. While the first half is all 2nd gear stuff the handling course gets very fast towards the finish. Highly recommended. 1.6 miles long.


A 1 1/2 mile trip around the MIRA handling circuit has been laid on by the Jaguar Car Club. New for 1997 the course has not been finalised by the RAC but should prove interesting... one part of the course has a crosswind generator at the side - hopefully turned off! Click for map (27K)

North Weald nr Weald Bassett, Essex

Just off the M11 near the M25 this is an airfield course. Not very inspiring as the course is laid out with cones on a huge runway. The benefits are that it is cheap to enter and very very safe for the car. A normal course consists of 2 hairpin bends about 1/4 mile apart with a chicane on one of the connecting straights. Most courses are 2 laps (about 1 mile). Click for map (9K)

Ocean Village Southampton

I'm not sure if this is still run. The course uses normal roads in the Ocean Village Marina at Southampton. Very short and very damaging. Because the roads have pavements next to them alot of cars get suspension damage from the kerbs.

Pembrey * nr Llanelli, Dyfed

Another Welsh circuit which is rarely used for sprinting. The circuit is quite fast with a few surprises. Click for map (22K)

Pestalozzi nr Hastings, Sussex

Now that Valence hillcimb has gone this is the only hillclimb in the southeast. Situated near Hastings in the grounds of a special school. The course is fast and flat at the bottom before rising towards the school. Includes a serious hairpin that some of the bigger cars have difficulty negotiating. Tim Harvey did it one year in a Renault A610 and had real problems getting around it. His solution ? Just bounce it off the tyres and set one of the fastest times of the day! 828m long. Click for map (64K)

Ragley Hall

Organised by the Jaguar Car Club twice a year. This is a hillclimb that is pretty tricky at the top. After a flattish start with a few bends there is a steep, long, blind left hander that is very quick. Can you keep the pedal to the metal all the way around it ?

Rotherfield Park E Sussex

Another hillclimb.

Santa Pod nr Podington, Bedford

No, not drag racing. The braking area at the end of the drag strip is used for the sprint course. Similair to North Weald in that the course is made up entirely of cones. Held in October when it is bound to be raining.

Valence nr Westerham, Kent

A very famous hilclimb that was last used in 1996 and will probably never be used again thanks to Dunblane. Security measures installed at the Valence School (gates, lights &c) have made it too dangerous. The course had a hairpin bend at the bottom and the top with a fast winding section through tress in the middle. 712 yards long. Click for map (23K)

Watton Norfolk

One of the longest sprint courses in the country at 3 miles. Uses perimeter roads on a military airfield. The roads are wide with some long straights. Very difficult to remember the course after a run, especially as none of it is visible from the start line. This also means it is the worst venue in the country for spectators. The speeds involved are very high and 2 of the straights have artificial chicanes like Mulsanne to try and keep things safe. Finishes with a lovely, HUGE, S bend. Click for map (61K)

Wiscombe Park * nr Honiton, Devon

A fine 1000 yard hillclimb used in the National Championships with the steepest part at Martini having a 1:7 gradient. The first section rises across an open field where speeds of over 100mph have been measured, through a wide gate into a wooded section featuring 2 serious hairpins. Click for map (57K)

© Ian Crocker
Last updated on June 30th 1999