A wonderful day in the Kent countryside
Plenty of horses, but not an equine creature in sight. (Unless you count the prancing horse)
Never been to a motor race before? well give this a try.
Brands Hatch is my local motor racing circuit, and I love it.
There are other tracks over the world I like to visit, but this is my local one.
This place is steeped in history, and a walk around the circuit reminds you of this fact.
The circuit is a list of famous racers, Graham Hill (bend), Cooper & Brabham straights. Surtees, McLaren, Stirlings, Clark & Sheene curves and Hailwood & Hawthorn hill.
(Located in the South East of the UK - Zoom in for more detail)
If it’s your first time, then why not pick a club level event.
These days are good value, the crowds are less, so getting around and finding your favourite spot is going to be easier – and if you like the experience then come back for a major event.
About the circuit
The track has two configurations the GP circuit, which is 2.4 miles (3.9kms) or the smaller Indy circuit of 1.2 miles (1.9kms), the club events generally run over the smaller layout, but not always.
The circuit started as a grass track in 1926, and racing has been held here regularly ever since. In the ’50s tarmac was laid and they changed to racing in the clockwise direction.
About the day
So pick your group D event, or club level event, and arrive at the circuit.
Gates open at 8:00am but the first testing session starts around at 9:00am.
Then the sensory explosions of sights, sounds and smells will hit you.
Granted it's not a Formula 1 noise fest', but you can hear motors being driven to the max', tyres pushed to the limit, the smell of brakes 'cooking' under the strain and wonderful aroma of fuel & oil.
Guess that confirms I'm a petrol head.
These days are great value, the programme for the day will usually contain at least 5 races, plus a number of qualifying sessions. A family day out for around £35 as of 2016! (Kids under 13 are free, and the 13-15 year olds are around half price).
Talking of lunch
Yep there’s plenty more than just the racing, grab yourself a bite to eat at either of the restaurants, Hailwoods or the Kentagon; or pack a picnic – there’s plenty of places to throw down a picnic blanket and enjoy the open space. You may also be tempted by an ice cream, there’s one or two vendors dotted around the circuit.
One of the differences between a club day and a major event is the number of catering outlets, generally there’s a much greater choice, but you get the crowds too.
Access all areas
The other great thing about the quieter club events is it’s so easy to explore the whole track.
There’s normally no extra charge for parking on the Southbank, the banked area with a great view of the first corner, and the Cooper straight. This means you can sit in your car and watch the action, and tune into Radio Brands Hatch to pick up the commentary.
You are also free to wander the paddock, where those not competing are fettling their thoroughbreds.
It's easy to see how even at the grassroots level, motor sport is expensive.
However don't be suprised to see gaffer tape and hammers being used to affect 'repairs'.
Or wander through the pits, ensuring you stay well to the back of the garage. It gives you a great alternative view of the event.
You will also find that certain grandstands are open and free – why not view the action from the grandstand at the top of Paddock Hill bend.
This is a fantastic viewpoint that accentuates the natural amphitheatre that is Brands Hatch.
Explore the circuit
Brands Hatch is a wonderful circuit, full of elevation changes and tricky curves & corners.
Whether it’s the Indy circuit, or the full GP loop in use I recommend you walk the circuit. What’s better than a walk in the countryside?
You will then find your own favourite spot, be it Paddock Hill bend, Druids, opposite the pits or one of the many other locations, you’ll only find by exploring.
What if we get bored watching cars going around in circles?
Well firstly, wash your mouths out – no, just kidding I understand that it may not be for everyone.
There is an adventure playground, a series of motorsport inspired shops, or you can just wander into the ancient woodland that surrounds the circuit.
So if you’re after a good value day for all ages, then I suggest you’ll do worse than spend a day at the ‘Hatch’