Day Trips11th October 2013

Castle Combe Car Racing

In search of deaf friendly activities for couples and families, Sarah visited Castle Combe Race Track during the Retro weekend. Well sign posted, with plenty of space, it turned out to be a great day of fun.

by Sarah Lawrence


As a wee lass, I remember being in Monte Carlo and walking around part of the track. I remember the vibrant colours, the flash cars, the heat, and the swish as cars sped by, but I was too young to really appreciate the race track. For years since, and like millions of petrol heads around the world, I have enjoyed watching Formula 1 on the television. I love the class and wealth behind the whole thing. I find it incredibly flamboyant on one hand, and then a sport reliant on minute precision and care on the other.

I don't get the roar of the engines and the audible excitement of an Italian crowd when a Ferrari wins the race, but it is a very visual sport, and there is much in that, that I do enjoy.

As the points on my licence testify, and not having the Top Gear circuit readily available t o me, I also enjoy fast cars. I love the feel of the car hugging a tight corner, fighting the gravitational pull, the tread sucking at the tarmac with every ounce of design effort that has gone into it. I smile every time I accelerate at pace, ripping through the gears, feeling rather than hearing the power of those horses as the vibrations feed through my toes like electricity pulses into the rest of my body.

For my 50th Birthday, I want someone to treat me to a drive in a racing car, ok – got it!

My love of speed and fast cars got me thinking. Why don't I and other deaf or hard of hearing people I know, go to see car racing. There are tracks all over the UK, nearly all of us drive and enjoy our cars, but we just don't go racing. I thought it was about time I explored, so on a glorious, hot and sunny Saturday, I set off to the Castle Combe Circuit that is just off the M4 between Bath and Cirencester.

I had checked the website, and whilst the information is very basic, it had what I needed. I chose to attend what they called the Retro Weekend. Ticketing information was straightforward and I was pleased that I could buy tickets on-line and have them delivered, so that entry to the course was a quick flash, and we were in. No fuss, no hassle, and no communication barrier.

Something I instantly liked was the space. Car parking is available right the way around the track, and there are plenty of green field spaces for kids to play, or have a BBQ, it wasn’t just car racing or nothing. Toilets were plentiful and well signposted and there was good signage about the course.

We parked behind a high fence but within 10 metres of the track and we could sit in the car to watch if we wanted to. As soon as the engine in our car was turned off, I felt the vibrations of cars on track as they raced by, reaching speeds I could only dream about.

Labours of love, some of these ‘retro weekend’ cars looked like ordinary road using saloons on the outside, but turned into pocket rockets on the race track. Even a little Smart car had me screeching with delight as it hurled itself around corners at speeds you would think impossible. And this was just part of the morning warm up.

Leaving the picnic in the car to start with, we set out to have a stroll around the paddock to get up close and personal with some of the drivers, racing teams and their freakishly quick machines.

With well over 60 cars in the paddock, it was busy to say the least. Not being able to hear a car approaching certainly did not present a risk, because I could feel the vibrations of the grunting engine as soon as any car got within 50 metres of me.

It was interesting to see the contrast between the smaller budget teams and the big sponsored setups with their support mechanics. We were also able to enjoy a wide variety of cars, from small single seater racing cars to huge Jaguars that are usually coasting along our motorways.

I got to chat to a few drivers who were all happy to talk about their car, the race meet, the costs involved, and why they love racing so much. If I had taken my chequebook, I could even have bought a car or two, with several on sale. I was so tempted and would have loved to take to the track. You need a race licence apparently!

This was no Monte Carlo, and it lacked glitz and glamour, but rest assured, there is plenty of wealth involved in racing these cars.

After a quick bite during the allotted lunch break, we settled down on the viewing bank at Bobbies to enjoy eight races in the afternoon. We had a fantastic view of well over 50% of the course and I could feel when each race started by the vibrations it caused, despite the start being half a mile away.

Despite this being a low-key event on the international racing circuit, these drivers were something special, and their skills highly tuned. Whether we were watching the Formula Ford single seaters or the 6.2 litre TVR Tuscan, racing was fast and furious, with the cars being driven to test the extreme capabilities of man and machine.

My favourite race was the Jaguar Classics and not just because this provided the most off road entertainment of the day. These were huge machines and with the near 100,000 combined horse power being used by the 25 cars in the race, I can honestly say I felt every one as it accelerated away from Bobbies Chicane, through Westway and along Dean Straight before screeching around Camp Corner onto the starting straight.

With so many cars in each race and without the benefit of the on course tannoy system, I have to admit keeping track of the leaders in some races was problematic. However, despite poor communication with me when trying to arrange my visit to the track before race day, the course management do at least use twitter effectively to let followers know within seconds the result of each race.

Be warned, the bang of the turbo on some of the bigger Porsche’s will make you jump, even if you are Deaf like me. One car had so much grunt, that out of 25 cars on the track, I could turn my back on the course and identify every time that car went past me. It was exhilarating, and it was a wonderful day’s entertainment. At £10 for adult entry, it was also one of the most value for money events I have been too, and I cant wait to go back!

Photographs by Simon Deacy OBE

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Entertainment / Day Trips

11th October 2013