Race Tracks Of The Past

th July 2016


With formula 1 being one of the world’s most popular motorsports, we thought we would pull out the history books through a few tracks which some will remember and see what they are used for now.

Brands Hatch, Kent:

Starting off as a farm which cyclists used as a track to time themselves on in the 1920’s, the track developed and was tarmacked. During the 1930s the track became very popular with motor cycle racing and infact was home to the first motorcycle event to be televised on British television. In the 1950s the track was fully tarmacked as it was beginning to be used by cars. The cars ran the opposite way around the track (clock-wise) to the bikes, which is the direction we know today.

On the official opening of the track, a very young Sir Stirling Moss actually drove around the track. In 1960 the track held its first formula one race. The race was a non-Championship race however none the less a F1 race. The track alternated hosting F1 with Silverstone and when not in use held the Race Of Champions and Formula Ford.

In 1999 Octagon negotiated for the purchase of Brands Hatch with an agreement that they could continue the Formula one at the circuit if a few updates were made to the track. However to keep the historic track as it was they decided to run the next 15 years of F1 at Silverstone.

The track is now mainly used for BTCC (British Touring Car Championship), BSB (British Super Bike) and British Rally Cross, now due to the noise level being too high for the local residents.


Crystal Palace, London:

With the circuit opening in 1927, it is deemed to be home of the first ever televised motor race. The track started off being mainly used by motorcycles racing along pre-exisitng paths within the parks .

In 1936 the circuit was covered in tarmac so that it could hold the first London Grand Prix on 17 July 1937. The circuit continued to hold motor racing events up till 1972, when Jochen Rindt set an average lap speed of 100mph!!!

Bring on the sideburns

The organisers realised that it was “unsafe” to be averaging over 100mph through a park. To prevent the circuit from being closed they put in safety improvements. However this was not enough and in 1974 the circuit was closed.

The sections of the circuit are now used as access for the National Sports Centre and other sections are used for annual sprint meeting.

Keimola, Finland:

The Track officially opened in 1955 with its first race being in 1956. Designed as a formula 2 track it did not bring in the income needed to support the track, meaning the track unfortunately closed in 1978.

After its closure a few continued to use it for illegal races at night. To prevent these races the locals actually dug ditches across the track, which didn’t stop them. Eventually after a racer was seriously injured hitting a moose, the owner decided to use his plough to destroy the track. Despite a bit of vandalism many of the structures of the track are still standing today.

Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Milan:

I am sure that many of you will know the famous Monza circuit; however how much do you know about the original banked Monza circuit? Well the oval track was originally built in 1922 by 3,500 workers. The complex featured a racing style track as well which is the grand prix track known today. Some of the track layouts featured both tracks into a complete lap as the start finish straight was the same on both.

The track was created so that Indy cars from the USA could race against Grand Prix cars, at the “Monzanapolis”.

Unfortunately after a large accident, in 1961 at the circuit they decided to no longer use the oval section for grand prix racing as the high speeds were deemed unsafe on the rough tarmac. Eventually in 1969 they decided to close the banking section. The section is still there today, and is used once a year for the Monza rally. The tarmac is a little decayed.

Rouen-Les-Essarts, France:

This particular street circuit was named as the best circuits in the world. Opening in 1950 it hosted 5 Grand Prix’s, until it was unfortunately closed in 1994 due to being uneconomical and dangerous.

In 1999 the road was extended and the buildings that made this fantastic circuit had to be knocked down. However the track itself can still be driven today, as they are left untouched. Also being a road circuit you would not need any permission from anyone to drive on them as it is public highway.

Rouen-Les-Essarts


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