Brooklands Mini Day 2019
The annual Brooklands Mini Day took place on Sunday 24th March 2019 at the famous Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey.
History of Brooklands Race Circuit
Brooklands was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit in 1906 and the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation. It is also home of the Concorde and the site of many engineering and technological achievements throughout eight decades of the 20th century.
The Outer Circuit and Finishing Straight
The original circuit, which opened in June 1907, was designed by Col. H.C.L. Holden to comprise a large banked oval circuit bisected by a finishing straight. In order to ensure safety at high speeds, the 2 ¾ mile long track was 100ft wide with two long straights joined by two sections of banked curve up to 30ft high. The track was built from unreinforced concrete which proved not to be robust enough and required continual repairs. The Finishing Straight is a convention borrowed from horse racing (along with terms such as Paddock, Clerk of the Course and handicapping) designed to bring the excitement of the end of a race to the crowds centred around the grandstands and Clubhouse.
Until 1933, Brooklands was unchallenged as the only motor racing circuit in mainland Britain, but in that year the track at Donington Park in Derbyshire was opened for car racing. Further competition came with the opening of a road-racing circuit at the Crystal Palace in South East London. Facing up to this, the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club (BARC) decided to construct a new road circuit at Brooklands, providing the maximum road racing track possible, without intruding on the Outer and Mountain Circuits, the aerodrome or the famous sewage farm! The new circuit, designed by and named after Sir Malcolm Campbell, zig-zagged its way across the centre of the motor-course cleverly incorporating the old banked track. Opened in 1937, it proved popular with the increasing number of drivers who wanted to experience the thrills of this sport.
The End of Brooklands Motor Racing
BARC held its last ever meeting at Brooklands on 7th August 1939. With the outbreak of World War Two, the aerodrome was requisitioned by the Government and devoted to the production of Vickers and Hawker aircraft, including Hurricane fighters and Wellington bombers. When peace returned, everyone lived in high hopes of the Track’s eventual recovery but the anticipated costs were too high. Temporary hangars had been erected on the Track, German bombs had exploded on various parts of the Track in 1940 and camouflage was used heavily in the form of tree planting and canvas houses to obscure Brooklands’ distinctive shape which made it an easy target for the Luftwaffe. The government could not see its way to releasing Brooklands until 1949 and consequently the shareholders of Brooklands (Weybridge) Ltd voted in favour of selling the track to Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd in 1946 and motor racing at Brooklands gradually became no more than a memory.
(Images and text courtesy of Brooklands Museum)
Sections of the concrete track and layout are still visible today from the nearby roads and also from the museum site itself with other sections now used for various industrial units including BAE Systems and Mercedes-Benz World. The museum now houses many exhibition areas including the London Bus Museum, The Motoring Village, The Clubhouse and the Aircraft Park, all of which would be open to the general public on the same day which made it excellent value for money for all the family as a large variety of vehicles and aircraft were on display.
For the past two years I have attended the show while a student based in London, but as I have now returned home to North Wales after completing my degree, it resulted in a 600 mile round trip and a nights stay at a hotel near Heathrow! Safe to say I didn’t mind as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the event two years running.
Sadly, my Classic Mini Clubman had to stay at home due to a few gremlins in the electrical system where the lights seem to currently decide to work when they feel like it, which resulted in me taking the daily drive. Even though this isn’t nowhere near as fun as the Mini, I suppose the only benefit was avoiding a sore back from the 600 mile journey, and the spacious interior to allow me to buy any parts which caught my eye on the trade stands and autojumble sections! Also it meant I avoided a sleepless night if the Mini was parked in the motorway services carpark!
Hundreds of Minis were queuing as far as the eye could see from both down Brooklands Road and Wellington Way to the main entrance to the museum to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Mini at Brooklands. The general public were guided through the nearby industrial estate for parking while the Minis waited patiently (or not from overhearing some talking throughout the day!) to be guided by the marshalls to their designated club and individual parking areas on site.
Some were lucky enough to park up for the day next to the famous British Airways Concorde….
…and also on the historic concrete Brooklands banking (with some added safety features in case the handbrake had a mind of its own!)
A large variety of early examples were nestling among hundreds of Minis and their variations including vans, pickups, Mokes and an early Works Mini!
But the main highlight of the show for me was a very rare Mini indeed….the Broadspeed GTS Works Mini!
At first glance, it sort of looks like the classic Cooper — at least from the front. The side profile is another story though. Rather than the distinctive hatchback, the Broadspeed uses a sloping fastback design. Due to this, it’s of little surprise that the Broadspeed gets compared to the Aston Martin DB6 – only on a smaller scale.
It started with racing driver Ralph Broad, who in 1959 started racing a BMC Mini. He quickly found success with the little car which lead to Broad to start selling racing conversion kits for the Mini to aspiring hopefuls for a mere £340. As Broad’s business grew, he eventually founded Team Broadspeed in 1962. Joining up with driver John Fitzpatrick, the duo continued to succeed in a variety of cars. BMC, the main competition to Broadspeed, took notice of this as well.
In 1964 BMC started offering factory support to Team Broadspeed. Then in 1965, it was a full works team for the BMC Mini Cooper S in the European Saloon Car Championship. As a works team, Broadspeed found itself winning fairly frequently. In 1965 it took a class win at the Monza 4 Hours, Spa, and Zandvoort events. In 1966, Broad and his partner, John Fitzpatrick, ultimately left BMC to race a Ford Anglia. Despite this, Broad still had a passion for the Mini Cooper and as a result, in 1966 he also started to produce his own car, the Broadspeed GT 2+2.
Based on a BMC Mini Cooper S, the Broadspeed GTS was two inches shorter in stature and four inches longer than the original. It also came with a choice of three different engines, all from the Cooper or Cooper S. Unfortunately, the car was rather expensive. For the base car sporting the 848cc engine, it ran £799. If you wanted the 1275cc variant though, then you needed to pony up £1,500 or about £28,000 in today’s money! As a result, only 28 of the Broadspeed GT 2+2s rolled out of the factory.
Unlike the higher-end nature of the 2+2, this GTS Works was an all-out race car and rarer than them all. This meant a stripped out interior, lightweight panels, and a stiff chassis. It also had fully adjustable suspension and a fully tuned 1366cc engine.
This GTS boasts a lot of racing history and has also received a lot of publicity through receiving a full feature in the Mini Magazine and recently being sold by Woodham - Mortimer in Essex.
Safe to say it received a lot of attention throughout the day parked in front of The Clubhouse so I was quite lucky to capture some photos without anybody in the way!
Another Mini which was receiving a lot of attention was Chris Denn’s 1988 Austin Mini City E!
It features many unique styling options including some stunning rims, smoothed bulkhead and the original LEGO carburettor!
As the sun continued to shine, Minis were still pouring in through the main entrance even around lunch time eager to be part of the show.
The sun also lead to some stunning light on the Minis which allowed me to make the most of it and capture some details….
…and the vintage buildings created some good backdrops for the Minis too!
Several Minis were causing quite a lot of attention and debate including a V8 monster, beach buggy style conversion and also a pink MK1 with a glittery roof…
Regardless of this, everyone of all ages were thoroughly enjoying the show and glorious weather…even Paddington too!
A big shoutout to all the exhibitors, traders and Brooklands staff for their hard work in organising a brilliant show once again. Last but not least the marshalls who voluntary give up their time to support these shows, as without their help and guidance these shows could not take place!
A great day out for all the family all at a reasonable price. If you weren’t able to attend this year, be sure to put it in your diary for next year as you won’t be disappointed!
Further images from the Brooklands Mini Day 2019 can be seen below.