Like many race circuits Thruxton was originally a wartime airfield. Commissioned in 1941 the airfield was host to both the RAF and USAF and played a major part in the D-Day landings as a base for troop carrying aircraft and gliders. Declared surplus to requirements in 1946, motorsport started in 1950 with motor bikes on a track comprising both the runways and perimeter roads.
Cars joined the bikes in 1952 for only one year as the deteriorating wartime tarmac was breaking up badly. Amazingly, bikes continued racing until 1965, but by then plans were under way to redevelop the site and motor racing returned on a new track in 1968. The new layout ignored the old runways and followed the lines of the perimeter road with the inclusion of the chicane and further round the track three tight corners in succession: Campbell, Cobb and Segrave, commonly referred to as the Complex.
Even with these tight corners Thruxton is the fastest race circuit in the UK, with Formula Renaults averaging well over 100mph in race conditions. Thruxton soon gained a reputation as a real drivers circuit with its seemingly never ending high speed corners around the back of the track where success required total commitment.
Thruxton's fame grew from the Easter Monday Formula 2 meetings where Formula 1 drivers of the day battled with up and coming talent. Household names like Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt all thrilled the crowds in the early races. Since then Thruxton has seen all our recent Formula 1 drivers race regularly at the track at some time in their career.
In 1993 Damon Hill, Formula 1 World Champion, drove a demonstration run in the Williams FW15C, recording an incredible 57.6 second lap of the 2.4 mile circuit, an average speed of 147.25mph.
It is now the high speed rounds of the British Touring car championship and Superbikes that regularly bring in capacity crowds. If you follow these series you may have seen Thruxton on the television or even lapped the circuit on the Playstation Touring Car game, but as always there is nothing like doing it for real.