Brooklands, begun in 1907, was the first purpose-built motor-racing ...(1)...
in the world. That may not seem much to us now; but never before had cars
been able to race without worrying about ...(2)... or farm carts
or animals suddenly ...(3)... on to the road. And even then it had
one feature which remained distinctive all its life (until motor racing
ended there in 1939), the banking.
About half of the banking that formed one end of the circuit still exists
today - and makes very clear that this was not a racetrack for faint-hearted
drivers. The height of the banking is some 29 feet (about 9 metres), the
...(4)... is so steep that it is difficult to walk up it, and the
surface was never particularly smooth. Yet cars used to drive around it
at well over 100 miles per hour (160 kph). It was a common occurrence
for all of a car’s wheels to be off the ground at the same time.
The car in the photographs is the Napier Railton. It ...(5)... the
lap record at Brooklands: 143 miles per hour (230 kph), which it set in
1935 around the 3.25 mile (5.2 km) circuit. The Railton was designed and
built at Brooklands, and fittingly it has recently returned there.
It was, and is, an extraordinary vehicle, being fitted with a 24-litre
12-cylinder engine, the Napier Lion, that was in fact ...(6)...
for aeroplanes. The car, and its owner-driver John Cobb, broke 47 world
speed and endurance records in the years 1933-37. And the car still works.
It is taken out and driven at Brooklands several times a year.
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