Castle Combe Circuit
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|Location||Castle Combe, Wiltshire|
|Major events||Formula Ford|
|Length||2.977 km (1.85 mi)|
|Lap record||0:59.387 (Dan Clarke, Räikkönen Robertson Racing, 2005, British F3)|
Castle Combe Circuit is a motor racing circuit in Wiltshire, England, approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Bristol. The circuit is based on the perimeter track of a former World War II airfield, and was opened for racing in 1950.
The Castle Combe airfield opened in May 1941 on land of the Castle Combe estate, owned by the Gorst family, operating as RAF Castle Combe for seven years before being decommissioned in 1948.
Castle Combe Circuit opened in 1950, and the first meeting was staged on 8 July by the Bristol Motorcycle & Light Car Club. Over the next few years, the circuit attracted star names such as Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Roy Salvadori and John Surtees.
The circuit's first motorcycle event was in 1952, organised by the Wessex Centre.
Castle Combe has staged many different motorsport disciplines over the years. In 1997, Nigel Greensall established a new lap record. His Tyrrell 022 lapped the circuit at 130.93 mph (210.71 km/h). However, this was the last year that the circuit would remain unaltered. A tragic accident involving the death of a spectator forced the owners into installing two new chicanes in order to slow the cars down. The new layout was slightly longer at 1.85 miles (2.98 km), and was completed over the winter of 1998-1999.
Formula Three returned to Castle Combe in 2001. However, it would not stay long. In 2005, the circuit was issued with a noise nuisance order, which meant that the circuit had to reduce its noise level. The British Formula Three Championship and the British GT Championship were both louder than permitted, and so were prevented from returning.
Races include a home-circuit championship with classes catering for Saloon cars, Sports & GTs, and Formula Ford are active and well-supported. Racing clubs from around the UK include the track in the events for their championships, including the 750 Motor Club, and BRSCC. Once a year motorcycle racing takes place over two days during the summer. The weekend proves popular, holding various classes of racing including a sidecar championship and an historic race, as well as the more modern supersport races.
As well as holding trackdays for both cars and motorcycles, Castle Combe Circuit is noted amongst the UK for the large number of diverse car shows that it holds. These shows follow a general motorsport theme and exhibit show stands, market stalls, stunt demonstrations, classic displays and on certain days the circuit is able to hold track sessions. The shows have proven to be a big success, offering the motoring community a place to display their vehicles and use them on a racetrack in a safe and controlled environment, with each year building on the last and gaining larger and larger crowds. Throughout the year, Castle Combe Circuit is the current venue for Spring Action Day, Classic, retro & kit car action day, Forge Motorsport action day and Japfest. Since 2001 Rallyday, an annual demonstration event for rally cars, has also been held.
Motoring shows Top Gear and Fifth Gear have used this circuit to race or test cars on. One such race was British motorcycle racer Leon Haslam on a Ducati 1098 vs Fifth Gear presenter Tiff Needell driving a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, the bike coming out on top. Top Gear used the circuit for their '70's Supercar challenge. In this episode The Stig lapped a Vauxhall Astra. Richard, James, and Jeremy failed to beat the Stig's time. Jeremy Clarkson said "It's a fierce track, one of the fastest in Britain."
One aspect of the circuit which has remained unchanged throughout the years is the large population of rabbits who live in the extensive tyre barriers around the circuit.
The circuit hosts a Greenpower event, one round in a series held at various racetrack-type venues. When not in use for racing, the circuit is the venue for a regular car boot sale. In May it also hosts an annual steam rally.
- Britain's Top Circuits, race circuit guide, 1966 hard copy (free supplement with Motor Cycle), Accessed 2015-04-30
- 750 Motor Club, race calendar 2015, Retrieved 11 October 2015
- British Racing and Sports Car Club events 2015 Retrieved 12 October 2015
- Greenpower races calendar, Castle Combe Heat 27 September 2015, Retrieved 2015-04-30
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