I have always included in every piece I write about Brands Hatch that it is in my top list of the most intimate circuits you can go to, its small capacity makes it feel homely and pint sized in comparison to other developed racing tracks like that of Silverstone. Up until last Sunday, I truly believed that I had seen the track ‘packed’ with people at the the races that I had been to there… How very wrong I could have been!
Sunday 1st of October. We are driving off the M20 exit to what would usually be a straight drive into the main car park. Oh no! Even though it was 8:00 am, an entire hour and a half before any racing automobile even made a beautiful whistle of fuel injected noise, we were queuing on the exit! And this cue was moving slowly. We very quickly realised that this event, the BTCC final, might very well make what we thought was busy, look like a rainy day at a bouncy castle party! As we closed in we were guided off to the third overflow car park! We were both completely unaware Brands even had one over flow car park let alone acres of extra space.
On parking up and walking onto the grounds, we found ourselves hit with an awestruck look on our faces. Brands was no longer empty, it was full of stalls selling all kinds of merchandise, fun things for the kids to do and even manufacturer stands with their latest models on display. But this was not a touch on the crowds of people. There were tents, gazebos, deck chairs and even the odd lilo already draped across the start straight with hundreds of people darting about accompanied by newly purchased goodies and their children pinging off the walls (and other peoples tents) with the overwhelming sense of excitement.
BRANDS WAS BUZZING LIKE WE HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE!
With the excitement of the air we took the pit walk queue, yet another, already sprawling line of people waiting to get a glimpse of their favorite driver, freebies and even a signature! At 9:15 the gates to the pits opened for a mere half-hour and once again we were overwhelmed with the vast amounts of people flooding the pit lane! We grabbed some freebies including a big green foam hand (perfect for dueling with other willing participants) and a sun shield.
Pitlane walking and picture taking frenzy now in the past we see the racing begin! Light showers and the crew making tyre choices were the hot topic of the day, Do you take the wets, the option or the slick? Parts of the track were dry and yet others were just a tad wet, bringing fabulous amounts of dormant oil to the surface and boy did it take some casualties on the first few races of the day!
Through all of the racing and classes in the wet and dry stages, there were some brilliant battles going on between drivers and their machines. Ferocious passes and aggressive inside maneuvres were but a few of the dirty racing tricks used. But what really caught my eye was the fact that all these racing series allowed for trading of paint without due penalty. I personally think this really gives scope for some of the best racing around as drivers can truly push the boundaries until breaking point, within good reason of course. However, at the heart of this entire day for me personally was the truly remarkable display of honed skill from Colin Turkington in the second race of the day whereby he managed to glide his way up the pack from 15th to 1st place. It was a heck of a sight to behold and the crowd were going absolutely wild! With this race in the bag Turkington was now in the running for winning the entire championship! It should be here that I mention this was his first year racing in the BTCC.
The unfortunate blowout he received while trading paint in the 3rd race of the day saw him finish second on the championship podium, but never the less, this chap is one heck of a driver to watch out for in which ever class he chooses to join in on next!
The BTCC itself is a truly awesome sport! And I would personally put it just behind rally-cross for a truly thrilling racing experience. Crashes are often, corners are insane with cars going round three abreast, and the cars look superb with their wide body kits. It’s an odd sight to see an estate racing a hatchback while both are equally as competitive. I perhaps would like to see a few more saloons in place of the hatchbacks as these are what I remember from being a child, but that is of course a personal opinion on the matter.
The other series that support it are equally as pounding on the excitement factor, especially the Ginetta GT4’s which seem to have drivers that are particularly fearless! Also included are the F4s, Clio Cup, Porsche Camera Cup and the Ginetta Junior cup.
I think it is safe for me to wrap this little article up and say that not only did this adrenaline fueled, sudden following of a prolific driver make the day, but also the moment Murray Walker’s dulcet tones came emanating from the tannoy. My day was absolutely complete! As an idol of mine for his commentary mastery I have only ever heard him over the TV and radio, he unfortunately retired long before I was able to attend a Grand Prix and therefore I gave up on the idea of hearing him live. It is rare for me to go silent, but those 5 minutes saw me dead quiet and transfixed on the tannoy. I dare say I had a moment of utter bliss!
I hope that you enjoyed this article by yours truly as much as these tyre train chaps did.
Bentley Jay Perkins