|Spot the racetrack! Aerial view of what was Brooklands.|
Organised racing of vehicles fitted with an internal combustion engine (motor cars) had been taking place from as early as the 1880s, but they were along existing road networks or hastily converted (or not) horse race courses.
In Britain however, there was a strictly imposed 20mph speed limit on the roads, leading Hugh Locke-King to devise and build Brooklands.
Birth of the Motor Racing Circuit
Completed in 1907 at a cost of £16 million at today's prices, the initial intention was to build a simple road circuit.
However, the prospect of achieving ever higher speeds, whilst maintaining the greatest possible safety levels, led to the birth of the motor racing track as we know it.
It was quickly determined that the 2¾ mile pear-shaped circuit at Brooklands would need to be provided with two huge banked sections at nearly 30ft high and an additional finishing straight, thus increasing the total length of the track to 3¼ miles.
Concrete Race Track
The expense of an asphalt track and the complications involved in laying tarmacadam on the high banking made concrete the material of choice.
The construction method for the track surface, which was made up of 10ft wide strips of concrete, involved pouring Portland Cement over a six-inch bed of gravel.
During construction, diverting the River Wey became necessary and this led to another world first, namely the construction of a seven-arch bridge of reinforced concrete to carry the new track across the river.
British Grand Prix
The first official race was held on the 6th July 1907 and attracted thousands of spectators.
With Britain's 20mph speed limit on all roads, no doubt the thrill of watching cars driven at high speed was very new and it became increasingly popular over the years.
Closed to racing during World War I, it became a centre for the construction, testing and supply of military aeroplanes.
Motor racing resumed in1920 and by 1926 Brooklands became the home of the British Grand Prix.
These two videos provide a fascinating insight into those early days of motorsport.
During World War II, the site was again used for military aircraft production and motor racing ceased for good.
Today, four major sections of the original concrete circuit still survive and there is now a museum telling the history of this unique heritage site.
As the above videos show (especially the reference to flying stones in the second one), over time the track suffered from uneven settlement along its entire length which led to a very bumpy ride.
Racing at speed not only involved steering a safe course round the cracks, but became a battle against the violent vibrations when crossing the increasingly uneven concrete joins.
One thing you can be sure of with an installation from Northern Cobblestone is that there won't be any cracks or subsidence.
All our pattern imprinted concrete driveways are laid on a suitable hardcore base and have fibre-mesh reinforcement, making them 25% harder than standard concrete.
In 2015, it was announced that Brooklands would receive a multi-million pound facelift to include restoration of the finishing straight. Let's hope their techniques have improved over the last century!