Crystal Palace Park, London
The circuit opened in 1927 and the inaugural race was held on 21 May 1927, for motorcycles. The circuit was 1-mile (1.6 km) long, and ran on existing paths in the park, including a loop around the lake. The surface had tarmac-covered bends, but the straights only had hard-packed gravel.
Improvements begun in December 1936 increased the circuit to 2 miles (3 km), and tarmac-covered the entire length. 20 cars entered the first London Grand Prix on 17 July 1937, a race eventually won by Prince Bira in his ERA R2B Romulus at an average speed of 56.5 mph (90.9 km/h). Later that year, during the International Imperial Trophy meeting also won by Bira, the BBC broadcast the first ever televised motor racing.
With the outbreak of World War II, the park was taken over by the Ministry of Defence, and it would not be until 1953 that race meetings could take place again. The circuit had been reduced in length to 1.39 miles (2.2 km), bypassing the loop past the lake, and pressure from the local residents reduced motor sport in the park to five days a year. A variety of races took place at the circuit including sports cars, Formula Three, the London Trophy for Formula Two, and even non-championship Formula One races.
Average speeds continued to rise over the years, with the first 100 mph (161 km/h) lap average set in 1970 by that year's Formula One world champion, Jochen Rindt. Also in 1970, the injunction limiting race days expired and racing was increased to 14 days a year. However, driver safety was coming into focus in the early seventies and it became clear that racing around a park at 100 mph (161 km/h) was not safe. Expensive improvements were undertaken, but it was not enough to save the circuit. The last International meeting was in May 1972, the final lap record going to Mike Hailwood at an average speed of 103.39 mph (166.39 km/h). The final meeting was held on 23 September 1972, but club events continued until 1974. From 1997-2000, part of the track was re-opened annually for a two-day 'sprint' meeting organised by the Sevenoaks and District Motor Club. The event attracted entries from all over the country and was invariably over-subscribed, attracting many rare cars. The circuit will live again, in 2010.
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Time Zone : (GMT) Western Europe Time, London, Lisbon, Casablanca
Major Events : Classics, Grand Prix, Sportscars
Circuit Length : 1.390 Miles / 2.237 km
Turns : 9
Lap Record : Mike Hailwood @ 103.39 mph, 1972
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