Thruxton Circuit - sweet little race track with glorious military history
Thruxton Circuit is a racing circuit located near the Thruxton village in Hampshire, southern England. The circuit was opened for racing in 1950 and re-opened in 1968 after a major reconstruction. The circuit hosted many different motorcycle races and car races in the international and British series since then. In the recent years, major competitions are British Touring Car Championship and British Superbikes.
Thruxton Circuit was constructed in 1940 as RAF Thruxton, a World War II airfield which was home to both the British and American air forces. The airfield was used in many operations, including the legendary D-Day landings.
Bikers raced at Thruxton between 1950 and 1964
After the war the venue was converted to the racing circuit and the first motorcycle races were held in 1950. After the cars came to the circuit in 1952, the length of the track was increased from 1.89 miles to 2.75 miles. The original race track was the combination of the runways earlier used by airplanes and few roads around the runways.
Race cars left Thruxton because of poor surface
First race for the four-wheelers was organized during the August Bank Holiday weekend in 1952. After that, the long layout was introduced but the poor state of the surface prevented any further car races. Motorcyclists stayed on such a track until 1964. It seemed that it was the end of racing at Thruxton, but two years later we saw the new beginning.
After Goodwood was closed, Thruxton was re-opened
In 1966, when one door was closed, another was opened. The Goodwood was closed for racing in that year and the British Automobile Racing Club was looking for another location. The Thruxton Circuit was chosen. A big renovation project started and the new track was opened in March 1968.
The circuit was 3791 metres long and had eleven turns, including Church Corner which was declared the fastest corner in Great Britain (until the opening of oval track in Rockingham).
Jochen Rindt won three F2 races at Thruxton Circuit
The main international competition in the following years was the Formula Two European Championship. The winner of the first Formula 2 race in 1968 was Jochen Rindt. As a Formula One graded driver he wasn’t eligible to score championship points, so Jean-Pierre Beltoise took maximum points and he later won the title. Rindt scored two more wins in 1969 and 1970. Unfortunately, he was killed in September 1970, so next year the Jochen Rindt Trophy was created as a reward for the winner.
International races at Thruxton until 1985
Between 1971 and 1984 twelve drivers won the Jochen Rindt Trophy, some of them was famous drivers in F1 or other series, such were Graham Hill, Ronnie Peterson, Henri Pescarolo, Jacques Laffite or Johnny Cecotto. The only double winner was Brian Henton (in 1977 and 1980).
In 1985, the Formula 2 was converted to Formula 3000 and Thruxton was included in the calendar but only for that season. The last winner of the Jochen Rindt Trophy was Emanuele Pirro. From 1986 only national events was held at Thruxton.
Only 12 days of racing during the year
Since the re-opening Thruxton faced an unusual problem with local residents which required restrictions of usage. Discussions between locals and BARC were resolved by the court and since 1972 Thruxton had a limited schedule with just 12 days of racing during the year.
With just 12 days of racing, Thruxton had to offer plenty of other activities to fulfill the schedule, so there are driving school and various amateur driving events. The airfield is also active and is using for private flights and a flying school.
Variable schedule – from bikes to trucks
After international competition left Hampshire in 1980s the main national events are British Touring Car Championship and the British Superbikes. Previously the Formula 3 also raced there since the series were folded. In recent years, the British Truck Championship is among popular series and Thruxton Circuit is one of the venues for truck races.
Brian Muir was the first saloon car winner at Thruxton
The British Saloon Car Championship came to Thruxton in the year of re-opening. The first overall winner in 1968 was an Australian Brian Muir with Ford Falcon Sprint. Since then BSCC and BTCC (renamed in 1987) regularly visited Thruxton every year, sometimes twice in one season.
The inaugural winner Brian Muir scored one more victory in 1971, his rival and multiple champion Frank Gardner has won three times at Thruxton, but the master of the Thruxton in the late 1970s was Gordon Spice, who won seven races between 1977 and 1980.
Shedden and Plato among record holders
The next of the multiple winners in the Thruxton Hall of Fame was Andy Rouse, who collected six wins between 1984 and 1990. Yvan Muller also scored six wins between 2000 and 2003. Fabrizio Giovanardi tied the record number of seven wins in 2010, mostly thanks to four wins in 2007 when six BTCC races were held at Thruxton.
Video : BTCC driver talk about Thruxton Circuit
Address: Thruxton Circuit, Andover, Hampshire, SP11 8PW, UK
Phone: +44 1264 882222
Official website: www.thruxtonracing.co.uk