The British touring car racing series — known simply as the BTCC — started out as the British Saloon Car Championship in 1958. It's undergone some changes since then, but it has always focused on showing the potential of cars in wide production rather than hot rods purpose-built for racing.
With champions such as Matt Neal promoting its events, the BTCC is now a fixture in British racing, and large numbers of attendees to trek to the UK's premier motorsports venues on race days. They've seen competitions between cars ranging from Minis and Jaguars to Fords and BMWs.
A handful of venues are associated with the racing series, and any car enthusiast visiting Great Britain should plan to see one. These venues are worth checking out, even if there are events scheduled besides the BTCC series. Like other tracks in Britain, they also offer chances for visitors to get into a racecar and get a taste of speed for themselves.
Hampshire: Thruxton Circuit
Just off the A 303 highway, 90 minutes southwest of London, the Thruxton Circuit has 11 turns on 2.36 miles of track, ensuring that there is no bad seat. Anyone over age 15 pays £12 to £14 to enter, depending on the day's race. If you plan to access the grandstand seats, please note that children over the age of 5 require tickets. The track also offers driving experiences for those wanting to get a firsthand taste of race driving in cars or karts.
Northamptonshire: Silverstone Circuit
The Silverstone Circuit is 90 minutes north of London, near the border of Buckinghamshire. It's a multi-purpose racecourse that offers up to 18 turns and 3.67 miles of track. Plenty of racing series go for an experience that doesn't require the whole track. The National Circuit, for example, only uses six turns and 1.63 miles of available space. The Silverstone Circuit hosts Formula 1 and motorcycle races as well as the BTCC series. The track also offers a wide range of race experiences, including training for a racing license.
BTCC event tickets for attendees over age 15 are £17 for the first day of the race, while second-day tickets start at £29. Plan on attending over the course of the weekend and pay £36 or more, depending on the package you choose. Parking is free.
North Yorkshire: Croft Circuit
It is easy to miss the village of Dalton on Tees off the A 167, where visitors often go right past the Croft Circuit. Do not make this same mistake; pay close attention to the signage. You will be rewarded with access to a 12-turn, 2.1-mile tarmac course. Children under 15 enter free; all others pay ticket prices starting at £12. While you are there — and if you are a serious racing fan — consider signing up for the Ferrari 458 Italia thrill experience, which comes with a price tag of £158. It is a bit expensive, but the excitement of driving six laps on the track in a fantastic car is well worth it.
Another motor racing circuit that hosted BTCC events in the past is a must-see for any UK visitor in search of motorsports' history, even though it is not hosting the series this season.
West Sussex: Goodwood Circuit
Visit the cathedral city of Chichester and head over to the Goodwood Circuit. It features seven turns and measures about 2.37 miles. Although the BTCC does not currently run races there, the circuit is the home to clubs running historic car events as well as the famous Festival of Speed, which the track bills as "the biggest celebration of motorsports in the world." Depending on the event you visit, ticket prices start at about £36 for those over age 22 and £18 for anyone between 13 and 21.
Go to the BTCC events page for a racing schedule.
by Sylvia Cochran
Top: Andrew Jordan of Great Britain Pirtek Racing in action at Silverstone Circuit in Northampton, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)