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Oulton Park Circuit is a motor racing track in the small village of Little budworth , Cheshire. It is about 5 miles (8 km) from Winsford, 13 miles (21 km) to Chester city centre, 8 miles (13 km) to Northwich and 17 miles (27 km) to Warrington with nearby rail connection along the Mid-Cheshire Line set in rolling English countryside and forest. It occupies much of the area which was previously the Oulton Estate. The track is set in the grounds of Oulton Hall, which were used as an army staging camp by General Patton prior to the Normandy landings.

 

History

The circuit was originally developed by the Mid-Cheshire Car Club, with the track attracting a crowd of 40,000 during the 1950s. Oulton Park regularly hosted the International Gold Cup event which attracted many Formula One teams (Stirling Moss won it 5 times), but as the F1 calendar shrunk to include only Grand Prix events, the Cup became less well-known. The event has been run for a number of other categories including Formula 5000, sports cars and touring cars. It has now, however, been re-established as a highlight of the classic racing calendar. The British Touring Car Championship, the British F3/British GT Championship and the British Superbike Championship meetings are also highlights of the year.

The track is characterised by its rapidly changing gradients and blind crests leading into unforgiving corners. The full track is 2.8 miles (4.5 km) long, with a selection of shorter circuits also possible. Among many British and foreign drivers it is considered one of the most challenging and thrilling circuits ever constructed.

One of the short circuits is the "Foster's" Circuit which comprises half of the "Cascades" corner followed by Hislop’s, or "Hizzy's" chicane. The circuit then heads onto Knickerbrook and up Clay Hill to work its way round to the start/finish straight. This circuit is 1.66 miles (2.7 km) in length.

The other short circuit that is used almost exclusively for the MSA British Touring Car Championship. This circuit comprises all of the Dentons Corner and Lakeside but then forks off into a hairpin before Island Bend. This hairpin cuts out all of the Island section of the circuit and takes the cars straight back over Hill Top.

For the 2007 season, the marshalling stations have been redesigned with a protective cage around each of the marshalling stations. This is to prevent incidents similar to those in the 2006 season, when cars were known to "fly through" the marshalling stations. Also, the marshalling post at the bottom of the back straight, near the chicane preceding Knickerbrook, has had a proper marshals post built behind the armco barrier and has been fitted with caging similar to the other marshalling posts.

The paddock facilities are reasonable, with large areas of hard-standing and some power points.

A highly-entertaining though rather risqué monologue about the construction of one part of the circuit, "The Naming of Knicker Brook", is told by demolition expert/raconteur Blaster Bates.

A good spot for spectators is alongside either the Fogarty Moss Centre or alongside Hill Top. Most of the track can be seen from these areas.

 

Knickerbrook corner

Pre 1991: The corner was generally known as a 'racers' corner as it required courage and full commitment from the driver. The corner is notorious for causing multiple accidents. There have been several fatalities of racing drivers at this corner. One death in particular, Paul Warwick, caused the corner to be reconstructed as a chicane.

The corner led from a downhill straight [Hill top] into a fifth gear, off camber right bend. There was a deep kerbing section on the inside of the corner which combined with the off camber nature of the corner caused a car to become very difficult to control. The kerbing and camber tended to make the car veer to the outside of the circuit. The armco barrier on the outside of the corner eventually intersected with the grass verge and caused a lack of run off area.

Such is the notoriety of this corner a series of videos were produced showing clips of cars crashing and spinning primarily at this corner. The series is named Oulton Park's Greatest Hits.

Blaster Bates, a British Explosives and Demolition specialist from Crewe in Cheshire, related an account during one of his recording sessions of how he and a colleague were once removing tree stumps with dynamite close to the corner. Upon the third detonation, a courting couple were seen to run at speed and in some disarray from the cover of a bush or bank nearby. Closer investigation followed a safe interval later and the two engineers discovered a lady's underwear in the brook, and this resulted in the name of the corner.