May 18, 2021

Without question, sprinting along with hillclimbing is the oldest discipline of motorsport in Great Britain. It dates back very nearly to the birth of the car itself, and the oldest venues in the sport’s history go back over 100 years. The Hillclimb and Sprint Association (HSA) organises some of the most thrilling and exciting events in British motorsport, and watching a day of sprinting combines the diversity and pleasure of the top British car shows with all the edge-of-your-seat action of a Formula One qualifying session. After all, the only element you’re really trying to beat is the clock…..

From March to October, up and down the length and breadth of the British Isles there have been some fantastic circuits that double up as sprint venues and whilst some sprints take place on British race tracks such as Cadwell Park, Anglesey or Knockhill, or even karting circuits such as Three Sisters, Clay Pigeon or Teesside Autodrome, there are specific venues purely for this delightful British sport, which welcomes drivers of any level and with any form of car being permitted to compete. There are classes for specialist single seaters, rally machines, vintage sports cars, and even for those cars you sneakily borrowed from your Mum to do the weekly shop……..

So where can you go to watch these fantastic sprints? Here is your Downforce Radio guide to the best motorsport locations in Britain for pushing the limits and driving ten tenths flat out for 60 seconds or so.



By clicking the link below you'll be able to keep up to date with the HSA calendar to see when these venues will be used for sprinting events. However, there are a few places popping up or that have been around a while that cater specifically to sprinting. Of course, sadly the days at Rockingham are long gone and we really miss our times at the Rockingham sprints in 2015 and 2016 where we brought live radio coverage back to sprinting for the first time in over a decade. 

So who knows? Maybe one day we'll return to one of these venues, at the same time you'll be there.


Dalton Barracks, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

At Dalton Barracks every June, the Abingdon “Car-nival” runs a sprint, a rally and an auto solo in the same weekend. The contests take place on the site of RAF Abingdon in Oxfordshire and competitors of three seperate disciplines come to compete with all sorts of different cars entering the sprint. David and Roy Sims swept all before them at the Abingdon Sprint in June 2017 which ran with two courses: the Abingdon and Bentley runs.

Grampian Transport Museum, Alford, Aberdeenshire

Famous for being the home of singer Emeli Sande, Alford also plays host to the fabulous sprint organised at the Grampian Transport Museum, 28 miles away from Aberdeen. A popular location in the Scottish motorsport calendar, the Alford sprint takes place each August as part of the Scottish Sprint and Hillclimb Championship and in 2017 and like most events of its type is open to any type of car and doubles up as a celebration of the diversity of the automobile, where visitors to the museum that weekend are treated to an impromptu display of genuine competition.

Grantham, Lincolnshire

Used predominantly as a satellite and training field for RAF College Cranwell, three-quarters of a mile of RAF Barkston Heath became a cathedral of speed for the first time in 1964 thanks to the Nottingham Sports Car Club. Incredibly sprinting didn’t return to the course until 2006, since when it has become a staple of the Hillclimb and Sprint Association and has held an event every year over the last decade.

County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

The “Thiefs Hill” is a true community spirit venue after local resident Eddie Campbell worked with Maiden Motor Club and the local council to organise the first hill climb in 1981, and it has gained a reputation as one of the most challenging courses in Great Britain. Speeding past several houses and climbing an impressive 800ft on their way to the finish line, the weather plays a big part in the event from year to year as the course faces west towards the Atlantic, and everything from humpback bridges to fast flowing apexes spice up the action.

Rendlesham, Ipswich, Suffolk

2,500 acres of prime TV and filming space, Bentwaters Park is also a fabulous venue for sprinting and events there are organised by the Borough 19 Motor Club. Close proximity to the Woodbridge Airfield venue means that more sprints tend to be held there, but considering Bentwaters Park is used for filming everything from car chases to huge stunts, it’s no surprise that competitors enjoy the thrills and spills of the Rendlesham course.

Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland

Since 1963, karting, motorcycling, rallying and sprinting have graced the famous County Down airfield with two courses being used. Sadly noise restrictions limit the number of days it can be used through the year, but it is one of the most popular venues for motorsport in Northern Ireland and is famous for hosting the Leinster Trophy. Sprinting is a regular occurrence at Bishopscourt and the resurfacing that was carried out ten years ago have only improved the events.

Aberdeenshire, Scotland

More famous for karting, the Grampian Kart Club’s home circuit has been used for sprinting since 2002 making it one of the most recent additions to the sprinting scene, but it has very quickly become a popular long-term venue. There are usually two weekends a year on the site of the Boyndie Wind Farm Co-operative, and it provides great action and very close competition. The Aberdeen and District Motor Club are the organisers of the events and are always keen to welcome competitive racers – old and new to the sport.

Braunton, Barnstaple, Devon

Taking over from the motorsport activities of nearby Winkleigh Airfield, RAF Chivenor is a fast challenging flat-out blast of a venue, with fast competitive action kicking off at Chivenor in 1983 and despite a short spell away its return in 2003 was welcomed by all and sundry. In 2007, Tony Wiltshire pushed his Ralt RT34-Longman to an impressive 67.25 second run, and now it remains a benchmark for any single seater ace who wants that coveted BTD (best time of the day) trophy. It’s also very popular with the locals, and ideal for speed running alongside the River Taw.

Coventry, Warwickshire

Here at Downforce UK, we’re hoping that the Coventry Motofest becomes as massive an event as the Goodwood Festival of Speed as to a certain extent it showcases genuine motorsport events in a magnificent light. From stockcars and banger racing on a short oval created from a couple of traffic islands on a bypass, to the majesty of proper flat-out sprinting, the event is a hallmark of excellence as the most recent addition to Britain’s motorsport calendar and if you’re new to sprinting – or indeed motorsport in general – it is probably the very best event you could attend as you’ll learn ten times more than you imagine about the fastest, toughest sport in the world.

Lichfield, Staffordshire

Curborough positively screams nostalgia from the largely unchanged route right down to the ex-forces Thames lorry commentary box. Racers have been testing their skills in this former Staffordshire airfield since 1963, and over the years the only things that have massively changed are the cars and the track surface itself. Sprinting is incredibly popular here, and to the local fans this is their Silverstone. Some of the most prolific battles in sprinting have taken place here and it is part of the heritage of the sport, and despite several threats from developers it has fought back and won every time as a cornerstone of British motorsport. Celebrating 50 years of action in 2013, we all hope it continues for at least another fifty years.

Loughton, Epping Forest, Essex

The Herts County Auto and Aero Club oversees one of the most popular events in East Anglia: the Debden Sprint. The course was first used as a racetrack by the 750 Motor Club in 1962 and after 4 years the racing ceased after an accident forced barrier repairs that the club couldn’t afford to carry out. When the HCAAC returned in 1982 for a one-off sprint, it proved incredibly popular and 8 years later they returned for the first of three annual visits, to one of England’s fastest sprint courses. Long straights, corners need after the pre-wars stars of the Austin racing programme and 70 seconds for the fastest single seater classes makes this a no-holds barred thrillfest at full throttle.

Gilford, Craigavon, County Down, Northern Ireland

Four roads connected by T-junctions have been putting on sensational contests organised by the Newry and District Motor Club since 1998. It proved to be a fitting replacement for the historic Spelga course after a landslip ended competition there, and the new venue gives the fastest competitors a 51 second charge up the hill at Gilford past farmyards, timber yards and balustrades.  An early-season fixture of the ANICC Championship for 20 years now, it’s now a solid part of the County Down motorsport landscape.

Farnborough, Nr Aldershot, Hampshire

On Easter Sunday 1959, the 250 Motor Club (now defunct) started competitions at the Hampshire MoD training centre. In the heart of coniferous woodland, the course isn’t spoiled by the facilities of Silverstone but it certainly provides a challenge for the steely-nerved racer. Nowadays, the Sprint Royale is run by Farnborough District Motor Club and apart from the surface, the course is largely unchanged. The venue is now used as a film and TV location as well as a sprint course, and considering the speeds competitors get to around this challenging track, it’s no surprise.

York, Yorkshire

The history of motorsport at Elvington dates back to 1962 when the BRSCC first organised racing events there. Motorcycle racing, speed trials and sprinting followed, and the former RAF Elvington airfield has never ceased its need for speed. The facility also operates driving experiences and track days, and whilst there is no more official circuit racing there, sprinting is now the mainstay of the venue. So on the right day you can experience aircraft in the Yorkshire Air Museum, then pop outside and grab a vantage point to watch the land-based screamers do battle. Or you can whizz round in a Ferrari if you’d rather get your hands dirty…..

Wymondham, Norwich, Norfolk

Say Hethel to a true petrolhead and their answer will be swift: the home of Lotus. True to the spirit of Colin Chapman himself, the base of one of Formula One’s truly great manufacturers still reverberates to the sound and smell of motorsport, thanks to the various events organised on the circuit test track at Hethel in Norfolk. BARC’s Speed Championship competes there as do various other clubs, and of course it is a permanent fixture in the Lotus Motor Club’s calendar too. Single seaters dominate there but in the spirit of Hethel the only car really to be seen in is of course a Lotus, and with plenty of vintage F3 and Formula Junior machinery still in active competition, it’s almost an unwritten rule that at least one Lotus should appear in every entry list at Hethel.

Malmsebury, Chippenden, Wiltshire

The Craven Motor Club and the Bristol Motor Club have both made Hullavington Airfield a home for sprinting since 2015. The site was originally intended to be used in 1969 as a drag racing course, although no record is clear as to whether the event ever took place. Coupled with regular track days for driving experiences, the Hullavington Airfield has become one of the most recent additions to the sprinting calendar in Great Britain and its proximity to nearby Castle Combe which also hosts sprints means that the community for the sport is vibrant in Wiltshire, and we all hope it continues with this 1.5 mile course.

Muirkirk, East Ayrshire

The Kames Motorsport Complex in Muirkirk is a truly unique facility. Used purely for autotesting, rallying and sprinting, Kames is 800m long and 3.5 metres wide which makes it an ideal location for the Scottish Sprint Championship which it has been since 1984. The British championship has visited Kames too and it’s probably the busiest sprint course in the country with the facility being used almost every weekend from March to October. A timed run is 3 laps if run clockwise and 2.5 if run in reverse, which means that competitors get to know this place better than most.

Cottesmore, Oakham, Rutland

RAF Cottesmore is now more famous for being spotted in various movies than as an army base, and has latterly given way to sprinting via Javelin Track Days. Expanding their sporting endeavours to its own sprinting series, Javelin has found a fantastic venue at Kendrew Barracks in the heart of Rutland and thanks to it being open to any kind of car it has become an instant hit. In 2017, the venue replaced Woodbridge towards the tail end of the season and it looks like the venue will continue to increase in popularity as time ticks on.

Chertsey, Surrey

2.5 miles of changing varied surfaces await the hardened competitor including changes of camber and combinations of fast sweepers and tight hairpins make this one of the ultimate challenges for a sprint racer. Driving through the Chertsey woods at top speed is quite a spectacle and since 2001 this incredible facility has seen events orchestrated by the Sutton and Cheam Motor Club. A temporary cease of racing was ended when Crest Nicholson Ltd purchased the site and transformed it into a film & TV location venue, and racing has now been commonplace since 2005. There are two courses on the site, plus three rally cross stages so there’s plenty of opportunities for the petrolhead to fall in love with Longcross.

Nuneaton, Warwickshire

When Autocar stated in 1948 that the Motor Industry Research Association would be “fully occupied for testing and there is no hope whatsoever of using it for competition even in years to come” they clearly hadn’t reckoned with the sprinting community. Occasional events were held from 1957, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the British Sprint Championship used the Dunlop Handling Circuit at the facility and it is also used regularly for the Midlands Speed Championship. It’s a mysterious venue as thanks to the secrecy at the MIRA facility, parts of the site have restricted access and there is no photography or filming of the events permitted. So being a competitor at a MIRA sprint means to become part of one of Britain’s best kept secrets in motorsport.

Epping Forest, Essex

The love affair between the West Essex Car Club and RAF North Weald looks like it’ll never end, as the club has been running sprinting and speed trials on the airfield site since 1959. The original site of a sector station for Number 11 Group in the Battle of Britain, there have been some truly sensational battles on the airfield itself whenever there’s no flea markets or private flying in progress. In fact, the Essex course is one of the most popular in East Anglia. Added to its close proximity to London and its beautiful setting in Epping Forest makes it a wonderful part of the calendar for the Green Belt, Harrow and Borough 19 Motor Clubs just to name a few.

Redruth, Cornwall

One of the staples of the motorsport season for Truro and District Motor Club is the Portreath Sprint. The return to this charming location which first ran as speed trials in 1991 that disappeared off the calendar in 2008 was welcomed by competitors all across the South West. Utilising access roads and runways at RAF Portreath, this new sprint course has already become very popular, although the only ways to access it are as a competitor in a car or as an official wearing that famous orange suit. Spectators are not permitted, so the only way to get up close to the action is to become a marshal which you can do on the TDMC website. Or you could buy a racing car………

Aldershot, Hampshire

The Rushmoor Arena site is owned by the Ministry of Defence and the 58 acre site was built in 1923 as a military show ground. It is now a positive mecca for motorsport, incorporating a kart track, motoring, cycling, the Spedeworth Aldershot Raceway for oval racing and the sprint course. Events are usually organised by the Farnborough District Motor Club and have been taking place as part of the ACSMC Sprint Championship over the years. The course drew big names in the early days with the likes of Denis Jenkinson regularly competing for BTD, and being within a stone’s throw of Eelmoor Plain the area has motorsport hardwired into its very soul.

Ollerton, Newark, Nottinghamshire

The Nottingham Sports Car Club uses the Thoresby Park sprint course twice over the course of a season since the venue first ushered in motorsport in 1992. Resurfacing of the majority of the course in 2010 has made this a gripping exhilarating test of nerve for the racers who compete there. One of the most novel features of the course are the oil drums at the chicanes are marked with tennis balls. If they are dislodged, penalties are accrued by the competitor in question. It’s impossible not to love the charm and true competitive spirit of the venue. It defines the sport within the term motorsport and those who take on the challenge tend to come back thoroughly satisfied and although not part of the NSCC Speed Championship schedule in 2017, the hope is that Thoresby Park still has life left in it.

St Mawgan, Newquay, Cornwall

Not far down the road from Tregrehan is RAF St Mawgan, site of the Treloy Sprint. In the shadow of Newquay Cornwall Airport, one of the newest events in the sprinting scene has quickly become a vastly popular one. The Newquay Auto Club runs the sprint a few times a year, and the events also make up part of the Cornish Speed Championship. Within a short distance of Bedruthan Steps, Merlin Golf Course and Newquay Zoo, this could be the perfect holiday itinerary, especially with a few other sprinting and hillclimbing destinations nearby. The phrase “petrolheads paradise” springs to mind….

Sutton, Suffolk

Our final venue in the list is also a fairly new addition to the world of sprinting, and found in Rendlesham Forest in East Anglia. Using former service roads of the airfield at Woodbridge, the course has been part of the Association of Eastern Motor Clubs since 2009. It became part of the Toyota Sprint Series and then continued to operate through the next few seasons. Despite being cancelled this year, there is a hope that Woodbridge hasn’t heard the last of active competition, as it would leave only Bentwaters as the only motorsport facility active in Suffolk. But with track days and speed runs also available at the track it may at least still have life after sprinting, although we hope it isn’t over yet……


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