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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Surrey and Sussex

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Surrey and Sussex
The Edwardian clubhouse - the centre of a social whirl
© Brooklands Museum
Brooklands - a racing legend

Imagine the roar of a 1900s Speed Six Bentley and the guttural snarling of an Auto Union, the smell of hot engine oil and a shot of Red X, and your senses just may be touched with what the Brooklands legend is all about.

In 1907, it was driving by the seat of your pants!

But today the early memories of Britain's first racing track live on. And it is not just a memory. The Brooklands Museum and Brooklands Society ensure it has a future too.

Brooklands was the birth place of car racing for Britain. Something that, until the day the track opened, had only been available to drivers on the continent.

The unique track and club was the brainchild of Hugh Fortescue Locke King, who devoted a large acreage of his Surrey estate, near Weybridge, to his passion for racing.

Freddie Dixon winning the British Empire Trophy
© Brooklands Museum
It was Britain's first car racing club, boasting a very special track - with a gentleman's club atmosphere. If racing was not on for the day, the drivers and their ladies could enjoy the clubhouse, tennis courts and tea-rooms.

Hugh Locke King had been quietly enraged by remarks made at a meeting of Europe's top racing drivers, after racing at Coppa Florio in Italy in 1906.

When he asked why there was not a single English car entered, he was told, "You have no practice in racing, no cars with any speed - you would not have had a chance."

This was a chequered rag to a thoroughly English-Bull.

At a dinner party with some like-minded, motor-racing friends, he formed plans to build the world's first purpose-built car racing track and clubhouse.

With the combined enthusiasm and backing of Lord Montague and a fellow racing enthusiast, Colonel Holden, the few months following that Coppa Flrorio meeting, saw the plans for the Brooklands Motor Course come to fruition.


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