Spectating at Aintree
We are pleased to welcome spectators to all of our events at Aintree, access being gained off Melling Road through a dedicated gate adjacent to the Blue Anchor canal bridge.
Let’s talk about Sprints first:
What is Sprinting?
Sprinting is one of the oldest forms of motorsport, having been established in the 1890’s. The cars start one at a time, competing against the clock and the fastest driver wins. Well OK, it’s not quite as easy as that. It’s obvious that someone driving a roadgoing Mini is not going to stand a chance of beating one of the Formula 1 engined racing cars, so we split the cars into classes of similar vehicles.
In the morning, following a drivers’ briefing, practice usually starts around 9.30am, all competitors having the opportunity of taking two practice runs at an interval of about an hour. Although the times for these practice runs are recorded, they do not count toward the results. Then we are normally straight into the first of the timed competitive runs after which we stop for 45 minutes for lunch. The second, third and hopefully fourth timed competitive runs start at approximately 1.45pm. If we get time, we may offer competitors a fifth timed run, although this last run does not normally count towards the results on the day.
You’ll notice that some cars are shared by two drivers, the first competing at the beginning of his (or her) class. When that driver has completed his (or her) run, they drive into a change-over area near the start where….. the drivers change over! When the second diver has had his (or her) turn, they drive back into the paddock to check the car over & wait for their class to be called for the next series of runs.
How are the times measured?
The start line crew line up each car at the start, and as the driver sets off, the car breaks a beam of light to start a very accurate clock that times the car until it passes through another beam at the finish line. The elapsed time then reveals who is the quickest driver.
Where do the cars go?
Leaving the start, preferably without too much wheelspin (doing that only wastes time!) there is a 250 metres straight before the first corner, a sharp left hander called Country Corner. 230 metres further on is Village Corner, a banked right hander which has to be taken just right to get a slingshot out along the 450 metres long Valentines Way. Bechers Bend is next and is incredibly intimidating as it starts quite tightly but quickly opens out. It lasts for nearly 450 metres, and even the slowest cars will be doing around 75mph on the exit. Get it right and you gain important extra speed to take you on to Railway Straight, over 600 metres long, but to avoid excessive speed & in the interest of safety, our finish line is just half way along, opposite Country Corner. The cars then slow down & return to the paddock. Today’s sprint course is 1847 metres from start line to finish line.
How do I know who’s fastest?
We set up two digital displays at the start. One showing the time for each car, the other its speed as it crosses the finish line. Listen out for the commentator too. He knows most of the drivers and will no doubt have his own ideas about who is likely to win each class. However, at every event there will be several drivers out there who have not been to Aintree before, so there may be a few surprises for the regulars!
That’s sprinting, so what about Track Days?
Track Days are non-competitive motorsport events where drivers get the opportunity to drive their cars in a controlled environment, as fast as they like, with no risk of being caught by a speed camera. It looks very similar to racing, but although you may see cars traveling very quickly in close proximity, racing – and timing – are specifically prohibited.
We split the cars into 4 groups for our Track Days at Aintree, where we try to place the cars & drivers into groups of similar performance & ability.
So we have Group A – Novice, Group B – Intermediate, Group C – Experienced & Group D which is for open wheel single seat racing cars. Each group has a maximum of 20 cars in it, any more than that and the track would get too busy and the drivers enjoyment would be affected.
Each group gets 10 minutes on track during which we are forming up the next group in the paddock ready to go out. As soon as one group’s session finishes and we are sure they are all returning to the paddock, we release the next group – and after 10 minutes, they get the chequered flag & return to the paddock…… and so on. Once all 4 groups have been out, we start at the beginning again and continue like this right through the day with just a 45 minute break for lunch. The only thing to disrupt this would be if we have to tow someone back in, though we try to keep the cars circulating behind a safety car if we can whilst we recover the errant vehicle.
Click here for more information about our track days.
Times & Facilities – all car events:-
07.00 – Gates open
09.30 – First cars on track
12.00 to 1.15 – A 45 minute lunch break starts
4.30 – 5.15 – Final cars finish on track depending on the event, weather etc
All timings are approximate and subject to change dependent on the prevailing conditions on the day.
The charge for admission is: Adults £5.00, accompanied children under 16 free, free programme (Sprints only) & free car parking. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
There are two main spectator areas, one close to the start areas, and another looking down onto the track from the start straight, right round Country Corner (the first corner) and along the next straight to Village corner. Unfortunately it is not possible to access some parts of the circuit. However, the entire paddock is open to spectators – so you can get really close to the drivers and their cars.
There is catering on site all day at the Golf Centre in the paddock where hot and cold food & drinks can be purchased.
Please note that for safety reasons, pets (even well behaved dogs) are not permitted at any of our motorsport events at Aintree. If you wish to bring someone who relies on a guide dog, please contact us first to make arrangements.
Do come along to watch our events at Aintree but please bear in mind that we are all enthusiasts voluntarily putting on the events for enthusiasts, and no-one gets paid for organising the events. So, why not get even closer to what we do by joining the Club and giving us a hand? It’s only £10 a year and you could be part of the only Club that runs a series of events on the historic Aintree Circuit.
Click here for directions to Aintree Circuit.
And here is a short video produced by the Champion newspaper to give you a Flavour of Aintree