Little Budworth, England
Om Oulton Park:
Oulton Park Circuit is a motor racing track in the small village of Little Budworth, Cheshire, England. It is about 5 miles (8 km) from Winsford, 13 miles (21 km) from Chester city centre, 8 miles (13 km) from Northwich and 17 miles (27 km) from Warrington with a nearby rail connection along the Mid-Cheshire Line. It occupies much of the area which was previously known as the Oulton Estate. The track is set in the grounds of Oulton Hall, which were used as an army staging camp by General Patton prior to the Normandy landings. At this time the famous boxer Joe Louis gave exhibition bouts at Oulton Park in the vicinity of the Deer Leap section of the circuit.
Colin Turkington goes through Knickerbrook during the BTCC race
The track is characterised by rapidly changing gradients, blind crests and several tight corners. The full circuit is 2.8 mi (4.5 km). The highest part of the course is Hill Top. Paddock facilities are reasonable in size with large areas of hard-standing and some power points.
The race track can be adapted for shorter courses. The "Foster's" Circuit, which is 1.66 miles (2.7 km), comprises half of the "Cascades" corner followed by the "Hizzy's" chicane, it then heads onto Knickerbrook and up Clay Hill to work its way round to the start/finish straight. The British Touring Car Championships uses all of the Cascades Corner and Lakeside but then forks off into a hairpin before Island Bend. This hairpin cuts out all of the Island section of the circuit and takes the cars straight back over Hill Top.
Beginning in 2007, all the circuit's marshalling stations were redesigned with protective cages. This was to prevent incidents similar to those seen in the 2006 season when cars had collided with marshalling posts. A cage-protected marshals station was also built at the bottom of the back straight near the chicane preceding Knickerbrook.
In the early 18th Century the Oulton Estate comprised a manor house and a formal garden surrounded by Cheshire farmland. By the end of the century this farmland was converted into a park, which now is the site of Oulton Park. Some buildings that were part of the estate still exist to this day; the entrance gates, lodges and screen designed by Joseph Turner.
By the early 1950s England had a goodly number of motor racing tracks but the northwest was not well served. The members of the Mid-Cheshire Car Club took it on themselves to rectify the situation. The circuit was they developed was on the estate of the Grey-Egerton family. With Sir Philip Gray-Egerton permission, a circuit was mapped out starting early in 1953 and by August the new track was in existence, measuring a sinuous 1.504 miles, almost rectangle in shape.
The first meeting took place on 8 August, but the RAC would not allow the public to attend, wanting an opening meeting to be run successfully before allowing paying spectators; nonetheless some 3,000 club members and its guests attended as spectators. The main event of the day as the 33-lap 49.6-mile Formula Two race which was won by Tony Rolt driving Rob Walkers Connaught A Type. The supporting Formula III event was divided into three 10-lap heats (won by Don Trueman, Charles Headland and Don Parker) and a 17-lap final which went to Les Leston.
Oulton Park has a vast catchment area which includes Liverpool, Manchester, Chester and Crewe so it is little surprise that the second meeting and last of 1953 on 3 October, attracted a crowd of 40,000. It was a joint motorcycle and car event, the Wirrall 100 Motor Club joining the Mid-Cheshire Car Club in organising it. The car side of the day was confined to three Formula III races and a final which was won by Glaswegian Ninian Sanderson from Ken Tyrrell.
By April 1954, the track had grown to 2.23 miles in length and within a year of the opening meeting had grown again to 2.761 miles. At Easter 1975, another circuit layout measuring 1.654 miles came into use. Oulton Park is unique amongst the new post-World War II circuits in that it is true road circuit whilst its contemporaries were, with one exception, converted airfields (the exception being the short-lived Blandford). It has something in common with Mallory Park in that it can trace its history back a very long way (possibly as far as Roman times) and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Aleton.
The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) brought the British Empire Trophy to Oulton Park in 1954 and ran it for sports cars on the new 2.23 miles Island circuit. Alan Brown won the race in a Cooper-Bristol from Roy Salvadori, driving a Maserati A6GCS, who set the new lap record at 74.73 mph.
In August, Oulton Park saw its first International Meeting when the Daily Dispatch sponsored the Oulton Park Gold Cup. Apart from the 11-year period when Aintree ran International Formula One races, it fell to Oulton Park to bring the major formulae to the northwest of England and the Gold Cup was run for all the major formulae: Formula One, Formula Two, Formula 5000 and the big sport cars. Its first running over the second new circuit of the year, the 2.761 mile International circuit, and was for Formula One; the entry was entirely British with the exception of Jean Behra in his Gordini. There were 19 starters, Stirling Moss starting from the back of the grid in his new Maserati 250F which had only arrived from the factory on the morning of the race. By the end of lap one, he had passed the twelve of his rivals and took the lead from Reg Parnells Ferrari 625 on the fourth lap to win by 1min 14.4sec at the end of the 36-lap race. Bob Gerards Cooper-Bristol and Don Beaumans Connaught were the only two others car on the same lap as Moss. This was the first of Mosss victory in the Gold Cup he was it win it another four times, repeating the win in 1955, 1959, 1960 and 1961.
1956 saw the Vintage Sports Car Club brought the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy Race to Oulton Park from Silverstone, but the BRSCCs Daily Herald Trophy for sport cars was almost rained off. The race reduced from 56 to 40 laps and the Le Mans-winning Ecurie Ecosse team was withdrawn. Stirling Moss won in his works Aston Martin DB3S from his team-mate Tony Brooks.
Prior to the 1957 season Moss and Brooks tested the Vanwalls at Oulton and advised that the surface should be replaced at Island Bend. Their advice was acted on.
There was a new look to the Cheshire circuit for the 1961 season, the pits being rebuilt into a two-storey affair with a concrete wall to protect the pit crews when working on their charges. The Oulton Park Trophy was a televised event for GT cars which was won by Mike Parkes in the Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 250GT from Graham Hill in a Jaguar E-Type and Tony Maggs in an Aston Martin DB4GT; Innes Ireland fought his way to fourth in another 250GT after a poor start, setting a new lap record on the way.
The 1961 Gold Cup, saw Stirling Moss win his final Cup, but car he was driving was unique. The race was run in damp conditions and this enable Moss to take the flag, driving the four-wheel drive Ferguson P99. It was only race victory for the 4WD F1 car although the car did win the 1964 British Hill Climb Championship.
Oulton Park was bought by Grovewood Securities in 1964, to increase the Companys motor sport portfolio, and later in the year Grovewood also acquired the freehold, thereby ending nearly 500 years of ownership by the Egerton family. Grovewoods takeover coincided with the increase in required safety measures. Being set in parkland, Oulton Park was more difficult and more expensive to bring up to standard than other circuits but the decision was made that it was to be motor sport first, and parkland second.
The spring meeting that year had a distinctly Scottish flavour, Jimmy Clark winning the sports, GT and saloon car races and Jackie Stewart, starting out in International career, won the Formula Three race in Ken Tyrrells Cooper-Austin. Clark was the reigning World Champion yet had time to enter a relatively minor meeting at an England.
1965 saw the revival of the worlds oldest motor race when the Royal Automobile Clubs Tourist Trophy came to the Cheshire track, it was run for Sports and GT cars in two 2-hour heats and was won by Denny Hulme in a 2-litre Brabham.
2 April 1966, saw prospective spectators at the British Automobile Racing Clubs Oulton Park 200 being turned away, as the circuit was covered in snow! Good Friday 1969 saw the birth of Formula 5000 in Europe: Peter Gethin had a runaway win driving the Church Farm Racing McLaren-Chevrolet M10A.
The last RAC Tourist Trophy to be run at Oulton Park took place on Whit Monday 1969 and ended in tragedy. Paul Hawkins lost control of his Lola T70 at Island Bend and hit a tree; he was killed instantly and the race stopped, Trevor Taylor (who had bravely tried to save Hawkins from the blazing wreck) being declared the winner.
Good Friday 1971 saw Formula One return to the Cheshire circuit to contest the Rothmans Trophy. Victory went to the diminutive Mexican Pedro Rodríguez driving a Yardley BRM P160; he set a new highest race average speed at 115.13 mph. The fastest lap was shared with Peter Gethin driving a McLaren M10A (how had harried Rodríguez throughout the race) in 1min 25sec at 116.93 mph.
Until 1973 racing had always been restricted to Saturdays and Bank Holidays but that year the local council gave permission for four Sunday meetings but it was to last for only a year. That first Sunday meeting on 13 May was to feature F5000 as the top race of the day and it saw a 1-2-3 win for Chevron, victory going to Teddy Pilette.
At the close of the 2000 season the outright lap record on the International circuit stood to the credit of Gareth Rees, driving a Super Nova Formula 3000 Reynard 95D in the British Formula Two Championship on 6 July 1996. He circulated in 1min 24.68secs, at a speed of 117.91 mph. The outright lap record on the Fosters circuit was held by Luca Riccitelli in a Formula 3000 car in 50.09secs (119.30 mph).
At the start of the 21st Century, Oulton Park is still as popular as ever and still as demanding as it ever has been on drivers and riders, but, in common with so many circuits, it is no longer hosts major international events. Gone are the glory days when all the major Formula One teams (including Scuderia Ferrari) came to Cheshire, now the major events on the circuits calendar is the twice-yearly visit of the British Superbike Championship and the annual visit of the British Touring Car Championship. This is no fault of the circuit management it is just the way the sport has gone. But Oulton Park is still the great challenge it always was.
After many years of decay, Oulton was given new life when it, along with Brands Hatch, Snetterton and Cadwell Park, was bought by MotorSport Vision. MSV, headed by ex-F1 racer Jonathan Palmer, have completely turned the circuits around, tidying them up and pulling the crowds in. Oulton's Gold Cup classic car meeting is dubbed 'the Goodwood of the north'. Furthermore, the BTCC meeting on Sunday 27 July 2008 saw a crowd of 35,000 attend - a record not only for the circuit but the highest crowd at any venue of the BTCC for a decade.
In 2013 Oulton Park hosts the following major UK race championships:
British Touring Car Championship
British GT Championship
British Superbike Championship
The circuit also hosts a major event on the historic racing calendar: the HSCC Oulton Park Gold Cup.
These events recently been joined by the season-opening Masters Historic Raceday, with Modified Live catering for the opposite end of the motoring spectrum.
During the week the circuit offers some general test days and driving experiences, and can also be hired out for private testing and track days.
Oulton Park Gold Cup
Main article: Oulton Park International Gold Cup
The Gold Cup was a prize originally awarded to the winner of a non-championship Formula One race held annually at Oulton Park. First ran in 1954, Stirling Moss won the cup and he would go on the win it four more times. Although the race regularly attracted the top teams from across Britain and Europe, the increasing costs of F1 and more countries wishing to have their own Grand Prix, the Gold Cup fell by wayside with last true F1 race in 1972. The Gold Cup would continue albeit with different formulaes; Formula 5000, Formula 3000; British Formula One through to British GT and British Touring Cars. Since 2003, the Gold Cup meeting is an event run by the Historic Sports Car Club.
Jake Rosenzweig goes through Knickerbrook corner at Oulton Park during a Porsche Carrera Cup race.
Pre 1991: The corner was generally known as a 'racers' corner as it required courage and full commitment from the driver. The corner is notorious for causing multiple accidents. There have been several fatalities of racing drivers at this corner. One death in particular, Paul Warwick, caused the corner to be reconstructed as a chicane.
The corner led from a downhill straight [Hill top] into a fifth gear, off camber right bend. There was a deep kerbing section on the inside of the corner which combined with the off camber nature of the corner caused a car to become very difficult to control. The kerbing and camber tended to make the car veer to the outside of the circuit. The Armco barrier on the outside of the corner eventually intersected with the grass verge and caused a lack of run off area.
Blaster Bates related an account of how he and a colleague were once removing tree stumps with dynamite close to the corner. Upon the first detonation, a courting couple were seen to run at speed and in some disarray from the cover of a bush or bank nearby. Closer investigation followed a safe interval later and the two engineers discovered a lady's underwear in the brook, and this resulted in the name of the corner.
The outright lap record for the International Circuit configuration is 1:24.68 (117.91 mph), set by Gareth Rees, in his Super Nova Formula 3000 Reynard 95D in the British Formula Two Championship on 6 July 1996 at the circuit's last running of the Gold Cup as a single-seater event.
While on two wheels the outright lap record for International circuit, is held by Ryuichi Kiyonari He set the record abroad a Honda CBR1000RR during the July 2006 round of the British Superbike Championship, stopping the watch at 1:35.44 (101.55 mph). Källa: Wikipedia.