OK. I finally got around to writing about the one circuit I know very well. Can anyone else do Cadwell ASAP and then can we get help with the others?
Brands Hatch notes from a local/regular.
Getting to the circuit.
Brands Hatch is situated on the A20 near West Kingsdown. Just 3 miles from junction 3 (Swanley) of the M25, and about the same distance from junction 2a (Wrotham) of the M26. Directions/map
If coming from the North (M11, A1M, M1) you will come over the QEII bridge at Dartford and return via the tunnel. Despite the toll booths being removed, the crossing is NOT toll free. You MUST pay online by end of the next day or receive a penalty notice. Worth setting up a DART account and getting a discount plus giving you piece of mind https://www.gov.uk/pay-dartford-crossing-charge
Coming anti clock around the M25 it is often better to ‘stay on’ (you actually turn off the M25 in order to carry on via the M25!) , go along the M26 to junction 2a and then go left to West Kingsdown that way. Notably on a Friday afternoon/evening the congestion around junction 3 of the M25 is well worth avoiding which the M26 route can do..
Getting in the Circuit
Except on actual race day DO NOT follow the signs for the Paddock Entrance!!
The back gate is not open on a test day or the evening before a race event and you will find yourself having to turn around.
Enter via the main Brands entrance on the A20 London road adjacent to the Thistle Hotel EXCEPT on race days when they will direct you to drive round to the Paddock gate (although usually not before about 7.30am when they still let you drive through the spectator area)!
If you come in from the main entrance then follow the road straight ahead and behind the main grandstands towards the lower outer paddock. If you are in the garages, and it is before/after racing then you can usually cross the track via the ambulance gate. This is located via a sharp right turn immediately after the main grandstand with the fancy MSV shop built into it. At other times you reach the garages through the two tunnels (mentioned later). If you have a big rig, you should expect to be ‘stuck’ in the middle until the close of racing for the day.
The outer paddock is accessed through the gates at the top of the hill , then down the steep hill past on your right, the tunnels and on your left scrutineering. Then through another gate into the main paddock. Sometimes they use the curvy white lines around the paddock for parking up and sometimes the straight yellow ones – see your paddock plan.
240v (blue caravan type plugs) and water are located all around the outside of this paddock.
The garages have normal 13amp sockets plus blue and red plug connection (available outside the back of the garage) plus a sink with H&C (sometimes) in each pair of garages.
Loo, shower etc.
In the paddock on busy test days they usually open the main loo/shower complex attached to the scrutineering bay. On race days the Hailwoods suite at the bottom of the paddock is usually open as well and has toilets (not showers).
In the centre section there are toilets under the main race control tower (no showers anymore – they got removed) that are usually always open.
Usually either in the office to the front of scrutineering in the main paddock or at the base of race control in the centre. Check your final instructions
Usually run as a one way system with cars going well up the hill then turning right to come around and form a que in the back of scrutineering. Then leaving out the front towards the tunnels
There are 2 and they operate as a combined 2 way system MOST of the time!
The upper tunnel is the low and twisty one used for returning from the centre to the Paddock.
With a sharp turn going in and a steep exit this tunnel is NOT suitable for large vans or campers. It is also a challenge for race cars and drivers need to be aware to avoid stalling in the tunnel. Low ground clearance cars can’t really use this tunnel and the ‘tunnel reversal’ method may be adopted.
The lower tunnel is the higher one and many vehicles can get through here, but are then unable to return through the upper tunnel. When this occurs the safety car and/or the tunnel marshal will stop traffic coming from the paddock and allow high vehicles (or low ground clearance race cars) to return using the bigger tunnel.
When the cross track route is open the upper tunnel entrance is closed with a sign saying “Exit across the track”. You drive up the road adjacent to the pit exit, onto the track and then exit through the ambulance gate on your left before the first (Paddock) bend. Then a turn right through the gates into the top of the Paddock – be aware of spectators and other cars who don't always realise a race car isn't equipped to do a hill start and the circuit staff will have gone so no one to help you or hold back the traffic! Getting back while the return tunnel is still open is very preferable and safer.
Be VERY aware that drivers get confused when the tunnel entrance is closed and some head the wrong way (against no entry signs) through the lower tunnel! This happens a lot with events like the Festival with foreign drivers who know they came through a tunnel from the paddock so they go through one (any one) to get back!!... and all the marshals have gone by then.
Only the larger tunnel has a pedestrian route.
There is also a pedestrian tunnel from beside the race control up to the start line grandstand. Watch out in case you might need your pass to come back through here as you are going into the general public area.
Restaurants in the circuit.
The Kentagon (top of the paddock) is usually the main source of commercial food during the race meeting with a full restaurant and bar. The Hailwoods suite at the bottom of the paddock may also be open during the main spectator times with restaurant and bar. Various ‘concession’ burger vans may be in operation near scrutineering. There is a burger type outlet next to race control in the centre.
Leaving the Circuit.
Well they do it several ways and frankly this is a mess!!
If you are in the outer paddock they WON’T let you back through the top gate and down through the spectator area (quite right) and send you out through the paddock gate – maybe from the corner of the paddock or possibly up past scrutineering and then a sharp right turn like going to scrutineering and out another gate. BUT this closes very promptly around the time of the last race and suddenly you find yourself having to go out the main gate even though there are still spectators about. If you are leaving before the end of the meeting you will need to go out the paddock gate so don’t try and go to the main gate. I see it very regularly, people who arrived for testing on the Friday night came in the front entrance and don't even realise there is a paddock gate. Then they try to leave during the meeting the same way they came in, driving up the hill past scrutineering only to be turned away at the gate at the top of the hill.... and causing chaos as they try to turn and come back down. If anyone knows of a worse paddock arrangement then let me know so I am forewarned should I go there.
Leaving from the Paddock gate, exit the industrial area and turn left (Scratchers Lane) to head back to the A20 London Road. Turn right for Swanley J3 of M25... or turn right out of the industrial area to reach the A20 at a different point and turn left for J2a of M26.
The circuits own petrol pump is at the very top of the outer paddock (almost at the Kentagon) Opening hours (race days only) are limited and should appear in you final instructions. Nearest petrol station is out the main entrance, turn left and about ¼ mile on your left.
Nearest convenience store (other than the petrol station) is a CoOp in West Kingsdown. Go past the petrol station and take the next left (Hever Road) just after the cafe (one of my crews grandad runs the cafe so a plug for them) and the CoOp is on the right in a parade of shops. There is also a takeway Chinese/chippy.
Nearest superstore is ASDA in Swanley
Several pubs in West Kingsdown.
My personal opinion, one of the best curry houses in the South is about 4 miles away in Borough Green . Look up “Zeera TN15 8AX”... Historic FF2000 seem to agree with me – they usually have a big group there. They have a big function room upstairs if you want to pre-book something.
Steven Connor March 2015