Brands Hatch - a Memory of Brands Hatch Circuit.
Soon after I began motorcycling in the mid fifties I began to take what has been a lifelong interest in motorcycle racing.
In those days it was a good trek to Brands Hatch as there were no M1 or M25 motorways and the journey from Bedfordshire was made through the center of London taking in Euston, Blackfriars Bridge and out through New Cross to West Kingsdown on the A20 and eventually to the Brands Hatch circuit.
No matter how early we left there would always be the build up of bike traffic around West Kingsdown, as motorcyclists congregated in the lay-by's and pub car parks to join the cavalcade of riders arriving from all over the Midlands. Getting to the circuit and leaving for home was all part of the adventure - in fact a lot of the ton-up boys from North London were happy to ride around the roads seeking a challenge rather than enter the circuit to watch the racing.
The majority of racing motorcycles were Manx Norton's, AJS's and Matchless's with little between them in outright speed with the edge going to those riders with the most experience or perhaps the aid of the best engine tuner. There were regular winners of course but the sport was not dominated by manufacturers or sponsors as it is now, but by private individuals who had perhaps the support of an engine tuner such at Steve Lancefield or Joe Potts.
The races were divided into 125, 250, 350 and 500cc motorcycles, and an unlimited capacity in later years aimed at encouraging the use of modified road bikes to compete in a class of their own. Sidecar racing was popular then with two races at each meeting attracting drivers from all over Europe, the best coming from Germany and Switzerland.
I still occasionally visit to watch the racing today, but nothing compares to the close racing of the 50's and 60's when perhaps ten or fifteen riders, on perfectly matched machines would jockey for position throughout the race, leaving "Clearways" for the final time with nothing to choose between them as they raced for the line - the title "King of Brands" invariably going to local rider Derek Minter, the top ace of the era. As the day drew to a close we ate our final sandwich or perhaps bought a hot dog and rode back through North London and St. Albans to home, tired and weary but happy, having had an exciting day out. Next week, and on to Mallory Park or Snetterton in Norfolk, same riders, same bunch of supporters, great!
A memory shared by on Jun 19th, 2016. Send ducatee a message
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