The Brooklands race track here in the UK has plenty of history.
I visited around 10 years ago now and it was quite sad to see that most of the banked circuit was just overgrown and decaying or simply gone.
Only a small section remained although they still have various meetings and activities going on at the circuit, it's a busy place still.
There is also a rather good aircraft museum on site aswell as the motor sport stuff on smaller circuits.
As i looked at the pictures, stood on part of the track and read up about how the circuit came about, i could only sit and ponder what it must have been like years before.
I know it's not exactly abandoned like some mentioned here, but the circuit itself and the even that was Brooklands is long, long gone.
There are various sites you can view to read all about it, this one below for example shows some great images.Here are just a few:
Aerial view of Brooklands track taken 1926
Howeâ€™s Bugatti and the Barnato-Hassan at the "bump"!
Start of the 1937 inaugural Campbell Trophy Race
"Brooklands was the brainchild of a wealthy landowner, Hugh Fortesque Locke-King who decided during a European tour in 1906 that Britain had to have its own motor testing track if it's fledgling car industry was to develop and prosper in competition with the Europeans.
Brooklands took its name from the 12th century lord of the manor, Robert del Brok. In the sixteenth century Henry VIII used it as a hunting ground, his local residence being Oatlands Palace. The 700 acres that made up Brooklands Farm and Byfleet Park Farm were owned, during the 19th century, by the Duke of York who sold them for Â£28,000 in 1830 to Peter King the 7th Baron of Ockham. Hugh Locke-King was Peter King's son; the man who was to build Brooklands.
The site, approximately 300 acres of swampy and wooded land was crossed by the River Wey, bounded to the west by a railway, even boasted it's own sewage works. In retrospect it may not sound like an ideal proposition for building a 100 foot wide egg shaped, banked concrete race track measuring about 2.75 miles around, but this was to become Brooklands, the world's first real race track, enclosing its own aerodrome.
In Europe, motor racing on public roads had been commonplace since before the turn of the century but in Britain it was actively discouraged. In 1906 Hugh Locke-King had attended both the Italian Targa Florio and the French Grand Prix, both run on public roads with not a single British car to be seen. The speed limit which on Britain's roads was 20 miles per hour was to remain in force until 1930. British car makers obviously had no chance at all of competing in Europe on equal terms and it was obvious to Hugh Locke-King that an English off-road track and testing ground was sorely needed.
Experienced race driver and car dealer, 29 year old Charles Jarrott suggested a very large high speed track. Selwyn Edge, whose London based Motor Power Company held the agency for Napier cars, was keen that the cars should be visible to the spectators for as much of the circuit as possible. The conclusion was that the track would have to be banked, 100 feet wide and nearly 30 feet high in places. To end on a high note, Selwyn Edge surprised everybody by announcing that he intended to book the track for an attempt to drive a Napier unaided at sixty miles per hour for an entire day and night - twenty four hours. A feat that was thought absolutely impossible, medical opinion at the time being that he would "lose his reason after eighteen hours".
The outcome of the meeting was that Hugh Locke-King was to spend over Â£150,000 building Brooklands and Selwyn Edge was to later attempt and achieve his 24 hour record.
For nine months over seven hundred men worked almost around the clock for seven days a week, the only breaks being on Saturday and Sunday nights. The river Wey was diverted, smallholders were re-housed, thirty acres of woodland were felled and 350,000 cubic yards of earth were moved. Seven miles of rail track was laid and 200,000 tons of gravel and cement were brought in and cast to become the race track.
During the excavations 1,600 year old Roman coins and urns were unearthed thus proving that the Romans had indeed formed a settlement at Brooklands
The top layer of the track was originally to be tarmac but ultimately a six inch thick layer of gravel and Portland cement was laid. Asphalt could only be laid on concrete and so would have been too expensive and tarmac would have had to be rolled. This of course was a near impossibility on the steep banked sections, so the final decision was to use concrete which could be laid in shuttered sections from the bottom of the banked sections upwards.
Today if you take a short walk from the clubhouse to the member's banking you will see how well this has survived in nearly ninety years of use and abuse. Bumpy because the ballast underneath has settled but largely still intact at the surface. The track surface although damaged during the first war by military vehicles was repaired afterwards but never really recovered and by the thirties was heartily disliked for its bumpiness by many drivers including the Great Tim Birkin who voiced his disapproval in his autobiography Full Throttle. The second war saw major destruction as part of the banking was demolished and trees were planted through the concrete as camouflage against enemy aircraft which could pick out the track from over sixty miles away.
On Monday June 17th 1907 the track was officially opened with an informal lunch party in the clubhouse for the various motor and horse racing leading lights of the time, with many of the press in attendance. A long procession of road and racing cars left the clubhouse for an initial tour of the track headed by Ethel Locke-King in her Itala after which one make groups of cars went out to be followed by the sight of a Darracq which ran high up the banking achieving a top speed of about 90 mph! Yes, it is true - 90 mph in 1907 while just over the fence the speed limit was 20 mph.
There are hundreds of images here, including many from the construction.
One of the time keepers huts.
Also just seen a web page that shows the hidden tunnels near the track that people used to hide in during air raids!.
Taken from here:
Modified by Boomy at 12:30 PM 10-6-2006