Brooklands Slot Racing Festival - August 16th 2009
Longest Track Record Attempt

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This was an attempt on the world record for the longest slot car track.  The plan was to follow the course of the original Brooklands circuit.  Scalextric track was used.  The record attempt featured in one programme in the " James May's Toy Stories" series on BBC2 TV.

The original Brooklands circuit was essentially oval in shape with  two huge banked turns and joining straights. The tighter and steeper Members banking was at the north end of the circuit, quite a lot of this curve survives as part of the Brooklands Museum complex. The surviving part is some 1000 ft (305m) in radius. At the south end of the circuit was  the Byfleet banking with a 1550ft (472m) radius and less steeply banked. Parts of of the Byfleet banking were demolished because of the need for aircraft production during World War 2.  Much of the original straights are now covered by modern buildings, the associated car parks and new roads.  The original track length was quoted as 2 miles 1350 yards (4.453 km) measured at the mid point of the track width. 

The existing worlds longest slot car track record of  2,563 meters was set in Germany using Carrera track in 2007.    The new track should be around the 2 miles / 4.4km length of the original  Brooklands circuit, a long way over the old record.   Obviously  modern building and roads are likely to necessitate some diversions from the exact course of the old circuit, so the exact length wouldn't be known in advance.

The existing records was set indoors, this outdoor attempt was certainly more challenging. Fortunately there was no rain that day, but there is another possibility in August - sun . Unfortunately solar heating does cause the track to expand and buckle.  I did hear stories of having to remove the occasional section of track during the heat of the afternoon.   There's the problem of tracking what's going on all round the circuit,  The first photo shows James May on a mobile phone to one of the numerous helpers round the track, beside him is the model of the circuit used to plot progress. Then there's the problem of track power, this was arranged by powering the track in many different sections, with a  battery and controllers for each section.  On the right is the track heading off from the start round the Members banking.

 James May  Battery  Members banking

    The fist major obstruction was the river Wey.   Originally the Members banking crossed the river by a massive bridge, this bridge no longer exists.  Fortunately just inside the line of the old circuit a quantity of pipes cross river.  The slot car track diverted up a bank and across the bridge.  Apparently they were able to assemble the track on one side and feed it across without actually needing to climb along the pipes.  The photos below show the ramp up from the foot of the banking to the bridge and the track crossing the bridge (on the smaller pipes to the left of the picture).

 Ramp  Over the Wey

  The track carried on along the old railway straight, to the line of the old Byfleet banking.  Below is the start of a remaining section of the Byfleet banking, shot as the track was being packed up with track boxes and a battery in the foreground.

Byfleet banking  Byfleet banking 2

The return over the river Wey after the Byfleet banking is no problem thanks to a generously wide bridge.  There were plenty more obstructions, such as where the track has to pass through a hedge.  Glad I didn't have to crawl into the hedge to lay that bit of track!

 Bridge over the R Wey    Through hedge    out of hedge

Getting local residents to agree to the track passing through their front gardens must have taken time.  Still many of them treated it as something of a street party and loud cheers were heard all along the street when the mobile phone message came through saying the first car had completed a lap.Garden  Over road Pavement

A great deal of work went into this record attempt, the small army of volunteers without whom it couldn't have happened are the real heroes.  Reports are coming through that the Guinness Book of Records have accepted its a new world record, the length has been variously reported as 2.95 miles, 4747 and 4752 meters.  I haven't seen official confirmation of  the exact length at the time of writing.   

The TV programme was shown on BBC 2, and is still available on i player.

Copyright 2009  C.Frost,  All rights reserved