Saturday, October 29, 2011

BROOKLANDS: Where the Magic Happened

                                         Brooklands sometime in the 1920s.

A.F. Locke-King, with his own money, built and opened Brooklands on June 17, 1907.  The intention of building the track was to provide the British motor industry a place to speed test.  Performance testing on a closed circuit would bypass the 1903 law relegating motor vehicles to a top speed of 20kph.

Brooklands was also envisioned as a profit making enterprise to capitalize on the growing interest in motor racing as a spectator event.  To satisfy both aims the track was built as a 100 foot wide 2.75 mile long banked oval.  The banking approached 30 feet high in places and the banked turns were of 30 degrees.  A later addition of a finishing straight increased the lap length to 3.25 miles.

In the early 1900s the technical ability to lay tar macadam on banking and the expense of laying asphalt lead to the choice of building with uncoated concrete.  This meant that all of the track sections had joints since by 1907 the technical ability to lay continuous sections of concrete had not been perfected.

Even with current suspension technology driving a long high speed distance on a modern interstate can be jarring.  The ability to smoothly joint concrete still seems to be in the future.  It can only be imagined what attempting a speed trial at Brooklands was like.  Some of us that still insist on riding hard tail girder fork cycles do have a perspective on what type of hard rider it would take to be an hour in the saddle at speeds of 100 mph or more.  I think young Fergus Anderson was one of those legendary hard riders.

I couldn’t find any Brooklands record photographs of Fergus Anderson.  This shot of Eric Fernihough on his Brough-Superior JAP 996 in 1937 gives a good approximation of what it would have been like at speed on the Brooklands banking for young Mr. Anderson.  Borrowed from Eric at Historic Engine Company.

1 comment:

  1. Eric Fernihough is buried near me, I went on a search but the graveyard is huge, I will return and hopefully find some directions to his resting place.
    Very nice blog Roy....