Blyton Park: F1 on Britain’s newest racing circuit

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This week, a brand-new motor racing circuit opened in the UK, with a fanfare that included laps by an F1 car during the opening ceremony.

OK, it wasn’t quite Lewis Hamilton doing things that shouldn’t be possible in a McLaren MP4/26, and its driver wasn’t fully on it, but the Larrouse Lola SC88 that graced the launch party was still a damned impressive coup that sounded the business. See?

Called Blyton Park, the new circuit is, as are most UK racetracks, a former airfield: in the second World War, it was a US bomber base. For the past half-decade, though, it’s hosted local grass roots motorsport for Gainsborough locals.

Business entrepreneur Richard Usher is the man behind the transformation into a full circuit (complete with corner names and everything): he paid for the 1.5 mile of fresh asphalt, and has done plenty more besides with the £500k he’s reportedly invested into the venue. All to help both trackday fans and lower-formulae racers.

First on his priority list is to attract Rallycross and Supermoto: within days of opening, Blyton had already hosted the second round of the MSA Rallycross Championship, and Usher is hopeful it will be sanctioned for Sprint meetings in time, too. (TOP TIP: general circuit bookings can also be made, car makers, if ever you’re in need of a press launch location.)

That May 4 launch day certainly showed a few more variations: the mix of cars was enormous. Such as? Try Lancia Stratos, Nissan Silvia S15 drifter, original rally Escorts and a Chevy-powered Vauxhall Firenza. Oh, and some bikes. Oh, and a Suzuki Swift rallycar. And, well, you get the idea. A bit of all sorts.

But not full-on racing cars, says Usher. He doesn’t want track competition there: against-the-clock sprints are his idea”. “The UK already has enough race tracks.

“I hope the wide range of vehicles that we saw here today will reflect the range of vehicles we attract to Blyton.” If this just so happens to include BTCC testing, then so be it – but actual wheel-to-wheel racing is not on the agenda.

Speaking of BTCC, it was designed by former BTCC driver Eugene O’Brian, in collaboration with one of our own, Evo journo John Barker. (His mythical mega-money Capri was actually at the opening day event, too). According to Evo, they were approached separately to design a track, but both came up with spookily similar designs. Merging the two created Blyton Park.

It’s not every day you can write about a new circuit in the UK, so I wish Blyton Park all the very best. Every motoring journalist’s dream is to earn enough money not only to buy the dream garage, but also to invest in somewhere to drive them all. Richard Usher has done just that: power to him.

Looks like I need £600k, then. The dream garage won’t cost much, given my tastes… but I now know the circuit is going to be a fair bit more on top. Best do as Usher did and get entrepreneurialising, then.

+ How F1 links BRDC to GOMW

+ BTCC: the anger behind the anguish

+ Jason Plato: real world racing car superstar

 

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