Whitchurch Circuit

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Coordinates: 51°24′47″N 2°35′10″W / 51.413°N 2.586°W / 51.413; -2.586

Whitchurch Circuit
Location Bristol, England
Opened 1959
Major events Formula 2, Formula III
Lap record 53.01 (72.17 mph) (Jack Pitcher, Cooper, 1959)

Whitchurch Circuit was a motor racing circuit located at the former Bristol (Whitchurch) Airport in Bristol, England.

The Bristol & Wessex Aeroplane Club first flew from this airfield in 1930.[1] During World War II it was used by the Air Transport Auxiliary and British Overseas Airways Corporation.[2] It continued as Bristol's commercial airport until in 1957 this moved to Bristol Lulsgate Airport,[3] where the Lulsgate Circuit had been.

On 1 August 1959, the Bristol Motorcycle and Light Car Club (BM&LCC) organised the first race meeting in conjunction with the Bristol Corporation, who owned the then disused airfield at Whitchurch. The course was 1.0625 miles long, almost flat, and rectangular in shape with four corners known as Dundry, Hangar, Knowle, & Goram. The meeting consisted of six races, one of which was for Formula Two cars. This race was won by Henry Taylor, at a speed of 66.03mph, from Keith Greene and Tim Parnell, all of whom were Cooper mounted. The fastest lap was set by Taylor at 66.64mph. However, the fastest lap of the day was set by a Formula III car in exactly 53secs (72.17mph) by Jack Pitcher in a race won by Philip Robinson (Stuart-Cooper). It is probable that this is the outright all-time lap record at this track at Whitchurch as this may have been the only car meeting held here, though it is possible that another was held later in this year.

The report of the meeting in Autosport speaks of indifferent weather with only the first and last races being run on a dry track, which probably accounts for the Formula III cars being quickly than Formula 2.[4][5]

The following weekend, 8 August 1959, the Bristol Motor Cycle Club held a motor-cycle race meeting, with Phil Read winning both the 350cc and 500cc abroad Nortons, taking fastest lap in both at 69.25mph and 72.07mph respectively. Note that this fastest lap was only 0.1mph slowed that Jack Pitcher’s outright lap also using a Norton engine in his Cooper.[6][7]

Back in 1937, on 22 May, the BM&LCC ran a one-off Speed Trail on the approach road to Whitchurch. The 17 foot wide course was 750 yards long with a slight right followed by a long left hand bend.[8]


Results - main events[edit]

Year Date Winning driver Winning constructor Class
1959 1 August England Henry Taylor Cooper Formula Two
1959 8 August England Phil Read Norton 500cc

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wakefield, Ken (1997). "Somewhere in the West Country": The History of Bristol (Whitchurch) Airport, 1930–1957. Wilmslow: Crécy. p. 3. ISBN 0-947554-65-3. 
  2. ^ Wakefield, Ken (1997). "Somewhere in the West Country": The History of Bristol (Whitchurch) Airport, 1930–1957. Wilmslow: Crécy. pp. 93–95. ISBN 0-947554-65-3. 
  3. ^ Wakefield, Ken (1997). "Somewhere in the West Country": The History of Bristol (Whitchurch) Airport, 1930–1957. Wilmslow: Crécy. p. 153. ISBN 0-947554-65-3. 
  4. ^ Peter Swinger, "Motor Racing Circuits in England : Then & Now" (Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 0 7110 3104 5, 2008)
  5. ^ http://www.classicandsportscar.com/blogs/james-page/rediscovering-the-race-track-at-the-end-of-the-road
  6. ^ Bristol Evening Post/News of the West, 4 August 1959
  7. ^ Bristol Evening Post, 10 August 1959
  8. ^ http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/tracks/whitchur.html