Brands Hatch has been in use as a fully paved racing circuit since 1950. Back then there was only one track layout which we now refer to as Brands Hatch Indy circuit. This article takes a look at the history of the circuit and provides info on the current layout.
history of Brands Hatch Indy
In the mid-1920s the land where Brands Hatch now resides was a disused mushroom field. A group of cyclists saw its hilly terrain and decided to start using it as a bicycle track, cutting dusty pathways in the field to ride on. Cross-country runners got in the action too and there was even a riders vs runners race (which the runners won!).
Here’s an image of the circuit from 1940. You can see that it didn’t have the Druids loop that the circuit today has. Instead, Paddock Hill Bend continues all the way round as fairly constant radius right-hand bend to what is now Graham Hill Bend, but was then called Bottom Bend.
Shortly after that motorcyclists got involved and started using it, in an anti-clockwise direction, for grass track racing. Both motorbikes and sidecars ran on this circuit and it was steadily growing in popularity.
In 1950 it was decided to tarmac the circuit to turn it in to a proper motor racing venue. The 500cc Formula 3 cars were the first to race on the new circuit, one of which was driven by a certain Stirling Moss. But it wasn’t until 1954 when the Druids loop was built that it was decided racing should take place in a clockwise direction, as it still does today.
Below is an image of the circuit from 1960. You can see that by this point the Grand Prix extension has been built, and it was only when that was completed that the original track was named the Indy circuit.
Today, the Brands Hatch Indy circuit looks incredibly similar to the one that was raced on in 1954 after Druids was built. The most dramatic changes to the track itself since that have been made to Graham Hill Bend, the rest has remained pretyy true to its original form.
There have of course been a lot of upgrades to the circuit facilities and its surrounding areas for the tens of thousands of fans and spectators who attend any given event. There are now four seperate grandstands, numerous hospitality suites, a campsite, lots of parking and a number of different entrances.
Brands Hatch Indy circuit map
Below is a circuit map of the Indy circuit showing the corner names, numbers and also the names of the straights. It also shows the faint outline of the GP track.
The simple outline of the circuit makes it look like it only has 4 or 5 distinct corners, but actually it has 7 as the final corner is broken up in to three different sections. See our full guide to Brands Hatch corners for a more detailed turn-by-turn look at the circuit.
how long is Brands Hatch Indy circuit?
Brands Hatch Indy circuit is 1.21 miles / 1.94 km long. This makes it one of the shortest circuits in the UK that is used for major race events.
what is a good lap time at Brands Indy?
A good lap time here depends what car you are driving and how familiar you are with the circuit. But pretty much everything, apart from a Ford KA, will lap the Indy circuit in under a minute. Fastest race cars such as the BTCC guys will do it in around 47 seconds.
Check out our article on Brands Hatch lap records for a in depth look at the fastest lap times around the Indy circuit set by different cars, and also for the outright lap record.
what races on the Indy circuit?
Whilst some of the UK and Europe’s biggest race series attend Brands Hatch most years, not all of them race on the short Indy Circuit. Some of them, such as the GT World Challenge use the longer, faster GP circuit. As do the British Superbikes.
Some do still use the Indy circuit, however. Most notable of these is the British Touring Car Championship which has been associated with Brands Hatch ever since the series began.
Infact the first ever race of the BTCC was held here in 1958 and was won by Jack Sears. At the end of the 1958 season both Jack Sears and his rival Tommy Sopwith were tied on points. The title was decided with a shootout at Brands Hatch Indy. Two supposedly identical BMC Riley 1.5s were provided, one for each driver, but it was clear one was faster than the other. So two five-lap races were held with the drivers swapping cars between each.
Tommy Sopwith won the first race by 2.2 seconds in the faster car but after swapping cars Jack Sears won the second race by 4 seconds flat, giving him an aggregate lead of 1.8 seconds and handing him the first ever championship title. There is some brief footage of the showdown in the video below.
Since then the BTCC has been visiting Brands Hatch once or twice a year.
Believe it or not the the British Truck Racing championship also races at Brands Hatch Indy. For what is already not a huge circuit, packing it with a grid of 25 race trucks and giving them the green light is one sure fire way to make it feel even smaller.
See our list of Brands Hatch events for full details of the series that run on both the Indy and GP circuits.
There are also lots of track days at Brands Hatch Indy throughout the year.