Racing history from 120 years ago was recreated to the day at Brooklands on November 29, when the recently reopened Finishing Straight proved the perfect venue for a celebration of Britain’s very first motor race – and Tony Page was there to witness it.
Britain’s very first motor race was organised by Charles Jarrott, and took place on the quarter-mile oval cycle track at Sheen House, Richmond Park on November 29, 1897.
To mark its 120th anniversary, Nick Pellett and the De Dion Bouton Club Team Jarrott searched for a suitably historic location at which the commemoration could be staged, but as the original venue had long since been demolished, along with the cycle track, the recently reopened Finishing Straight at Brooklands fitted the bill, especially as 2017 marked Brooklands’ 110th anniversary.
The brainchild and passion of wealthy Surrey landowner and entrepreneur Hugh Fortescue Locke King, Brooklands was built on 330 acres of farm and woodland on his estate at Weybridge, and work on the 2¾-mile circuit, with its two huge banked sections nearly 30ft high, started late in 1906.
The concrete track would be 100ft wide and would include two long straights, one running for half a mile beside the London to Southampton Railway, and an additional ‘Finishing Straight’ passing the Paddock and enclosures, bringing the total length of the track to 3¼ miles.
The massive undertaking took only nine months to build, but sadly cost Hugh Locke King his personal fortune at a cost of almost £16 million at today’s values.
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