I had one of those “hold on a second” moments recently. Tammy had mentioned the film, Grand Prix. I pulled out the DVD and was watching it. The British Grand Prix takes place at Brands Hatch. The movie shows Graham Hill, Jim Clark, John Surtees, Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren whipping around the Kent track. Then it occurred to me that when these guys were racing, those corners had yet to be named after them. So what were they called?
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been researching the answers. I have to admit I’ve had quite a tough time finding answers. As you can see, I have a couple of maps of the circuit—one of the original layout and the current layout.
What I found out was that Paddock Hill Bend and Clearways have held those names since the beginning. Druids got its name when it was installed in 1954. Graham Hill Bend was originally called Bottom Bend and was renamed in 1976 after Hill’s death. Hailwood Hill was originally called Pilgrim’s Rise and was renamed Mike Hailwood died in 1981. Surtees, Brabham Straight and Cooper Straight were originally called South Bank, Top Straight and Bottom Straight respectively. As to when they got renamed, I haven’t found out. Where I’ve hit the weeds is when it comes to McLaren and Clark Curve, which are extensions of Clearways in a lot of ways. If anyone can shed some light, I’d love to know so that I can complete the picture.
So there you have it, the changing face of Brands Hatch. I had a lot of fun playing a motor racing archeologist.
If you’ve never had the chance to see a race, then I would recommend making a trip. From a spectator’s point of view, it’s the best circuit in the world.