Cradle of British Motor Racing and Aviation
By Nicholas H. Lancaster
(Shire Publications, Paperback, 9780747807070, 64pp.)
Publication Date: October 20, 2009
List Price: $12.95*
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Brooklands, near Weybridge in Surrey, holds a unique and highly important place in the histories of both motoring and aviation. It was the first purpose-built motor racing track in Britain and the first major circuit in the world. From 1907 to the outbreak of the Second World War, the banked circuit was the epicenter of British motor sport, and events at Brooklands - races and speed record attempts - were an important part of the sporting and social calendar.
Motor sport was not the only activity for which Brooklands was famous, however: it became an important center for aviation. The first flight of a British pilot in a British aircraft took place there in 1908, and Britain's first flying school was opened within the circuit in 1910. Several manufacturers began aircraft production at Brooklands, and the most important of these, Vickers, took over large parts of the site when motor racing stopped in 1939. Many aircraft, including the Wellington bomber, were built here in large numbers during the war.
When peace returned in 1945 the race track at Brooklands was in poor condition and built over in places. Racing never resumed, but the aviation history of the site grew ever stronger, with design and production of airliners including the VC-10 and Concorde. Today Brooklands is home to a thriving museum and, as the years pass, more and more of the old track is being restored to its former glory. This book tells the story of this unique and important site, and conjures up the atmosphere of pre-war race meetings, of wartime aircraft production, and the birth of some of the world's most famous aeroplanes.
"As a member of the Brooklands Society, Lancaster knows his subject well. Even if you already have all the other Brooklands books we have reviewed, you will find new visuals in this one, which only goes to show what care the publisher takes to give these tiny books real value... if you still don't know Shire Books, you don't know what you're missing. These small books pack a wallop of information into their few pages!" -Rolls Royce Owners' Club, Inc (December 2009)