There is an automotive gem nestled in the ultra green countryside of the leafy village of Weybridge, Surrey in southwest England. For the past 26 years, the Brooklands Museum has provided a tribute to the motoring phenomenon of the original Brooklands motor racing circuit and aerodome.
The original racing circuit, built on 30 acres in 1907, was the Ascot of British motorsport. The outer circuit was 100 foot wide and 2.75 miles long with two straights joined by two sections of banked curves up to 30 foot high at 30 degrees. The track was the world’s first purpose-built motor-sport venue and for 32 years “was the crucible for the celebration of all things motorized” where the first British Grand Prix was held in 1926.
Allan Winn, director and chief executive of Brooklands Museum states his passion was for “elderly motorcars” and notes that he “fell in love with a 4 1/2-litre Bentley in 1958 and ended up playing with old motorcars.”
In 1996, with his extensive background in vintage motor racing and aviation interests, Winn became chairman of The Friends Association of the museum. He served as a volunteer for seven years and in 2003 was became the director, and a major force in saving and restoring the museum, starting with the successful negotiation and purchase of one of the British Airways Concorde aircraft which once carried 100 passengers at twice the speed of sound (Mach 2).
Today at the museum you can have a Concorde Experience with a virtual “flight” in the supersonic icon. The success of the Concorde project drew new interest and attendance to the museum and started a new path of exciting new endeavors and projects that led the museum to new heights in everyday traffic.
Brooklands Museum displays a wide range of motoring and aviation exhibits, from the huge racing cars such as the 1933 24-litre Napier-Railton (between 1933 and 1937 the car, driven by John Cobb, broke 47 world speed records at Brooklands, Montlhéry and Bonneville Salt Flats) and the 1923 Aston Martin “Razor Blade,” to a striking collection of Vickers-BAC-built aircraft including the WW2 Wellington bomber and the Barnes Wallis Stratosphere Chamber (test aircraft components under environmental conditions prevailing at 70,000 feet altitude).
In the paddock area, the motoring village as been fully restored including the workshops, tuning sheds, and petrol pagodas of the 1920s and ‘30s with displays of historic racing cars, motorcycles and bicycles alongside photographs, racing suits and memorabilia telling the stories of the people that designed, built and maintained them.
Education is of major importance to Brooklands and offers curriculum-based activities for schools, colleges and universities.
Children especially don’t just learn about history at Brooklands but also through the technological achievements of the facility are able to stimulate an interest in science and technology.
“I want to use the legacy that Brooklands created back in the day to inspire future generations to do things!” Winn said.
The museum has been raising funds toward a $10.8-million restoration of parts of the original track. A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has already resulted in a partial restoration of the Finishing Straight, which long had been covered by an aircraft hangar.