If you’re a fan of the British Touring Car Championship or the UK Time Attack series, then the name Brands Hatch will no doubt be familiar to you. And for you F1 fans out there, you probably associate Silverstone with the British GP, but it’s worth noting that starting in 1964, Brands Hatch was the home of Formula One in jolly old England every other year until 1986. But with growing concerns over track safety at Brands, Silverstone took over full-time duties as host of the British GP starting in 1987.
Despite F1’s departure, Brands Hatch continues to be one of the most important motorsports venues in the UK and the busiest racetrack in all of Europe. WTCC, World Superbike, and DTM events are among the higher-profile series running at Brands these days, but there are also a ton of grassroots events and driving schools held here for enthusiasts like you and me.
A big part of Brands Hatch’s appeal is its setting, where a natural amphitheater surrounds the bottom half of the course. This makes for great viewing for spectators, and the dramatic elevation changes combined with blind apexes, off-camber curves, and several pucker-inducing, high-speed corners make for a thrilling and seriously challenging lap behind the steering wheel. It doesn’t suck that the facilities here are top notch either. From the modern timing tower and pit lane garages to the meticulously maintained grounds, spending a day at Brands is about as good as it gets if you’re a speed freak.
Paddock Hill Bend in particular has a fearsome reputation and a massive gravel trap that gobbles up drivers who misjudge corner entry speed here. And misjudging your turn-in point and entry speed is awfully easy to do given the 110-plus-mph approach to Paddock Hill and its hidden apex just past the crest of the hill. And yet to carry maximum speed through Paddock Hill down into the famous 180-degree right known as Druids, you need to commit to your line and speed long before being able to see your track out point and the gravel trap lurking just off the outside rumble strips.
As such, Paddock Hill Bend is widely considered one of the most challenging corners on any circuit in the UK. It’s one of those bends that truly test your commitment and high-speed car control as well as your setup skills, because a loose car here is not a recipe for success. The fact that you crest the hill with some right steering angle dialed in means the tail end of the car tends to get quite light, so any setup imbalances will be exposed here, often resulting in a dramatic spin-off into the gravel trap, as the skid marks across the pavement artistically illustrate.
With constant elevation changes and a fast and flowing design typical of a classic F1 circuit, Brands is a feast for your motoring senses. Part of this historic circuit’s appeal is its layout (F1 driver Gerhard Berger once called it “the best circuit in the world”), but its heritage also draws you in. Knowing that drivers such as Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, and Ayrton Senna raced here gives Brands the feel of being hallowed ground if not the epicenter of British motor racing.
Location Kent, England (20 miles outside downtown London)
Track Configuration 2.301-mile, 9-turn Grand Prix circuit
Other Facilities pit garages, media center, motorsports vision center, restaurants and bars, kart track, off-road course, racing schools, corporate and hospitality suites, helipad, campgrounds