Circuit racing is on the rise in the South region this year with opportunities to take part at a wide range of venues.
Circuit Racing presents the perfect opportunity for new people to try your hand at bunch racing on tarmac, essentially a miniature version of Road racing without having to mix with other road users and long climbs, races typically last for around an hour in length and therefore require less physical demands to the open road where races tend for last for 2 hours +.
The South Region Circuit Calendar for 2023 has been confirmed and will see racing take place over a number of venues from purpose built venues to wide fast Motorsport venues and Airfields as well as short technical circuits based in Car parks.
On this page over the coming weeks we will highlight what the region has to offer on each of the circuits this year and how you can get involved in racing this year.
Winchester Park & Ride,
Normally you associate P&R sites to busses, but the local council have kindly granted access for the site to be used for cycle coaching and racing on a number of Sundays throughout the year.
As you would expect Parking is not an issue at this venue and a small building also has toilets available for riders to use on race days.
The 670 Metre circuit used for competition is essentially a long oval shape with two sweeping 90 degree corners to the south and a 180 degree almost dead turn at the north of the circuit, racing fields are limited to just 40 per race due to it’s narrow (6m) width but with 3 corners per lap to accelerate out of it can be quite easy for riders to lose contact if their cornering skills require more work.
This year a short series of races are being promoted on the circuit by Sotonia & VC Venta who are working in partnership to offer both a round of the Regional Youth Circuit Series and the Youth regional Circuit Race Championships, support racing is also offered to Women and 2/3 Cat Men.
The Airfield based venue 5km West of Shaftsbury on the Dorset/ Somerset boarder offers good access to riders along the south coast, Bath and of course the South West region.
The 900m course resembles a P shape course taking in the main runway and taxiway through some of the hangers on site. A fast-flowing course with one 180 degree turn allows for some great racing to take place during the 6 week long mid week series ran over the summer months.
Facilities are limited at the site, but Toilets are available for riders and spectators during events.
Castle Combe, Wiltshire
Following on from last weeks visit to Lyneham we now move just 7 miles west along the M4 to the Castle Combe Motor racing circuit just outside of Chippenham in one of the most picturesque villages in England and used for many film locations.
The 3 km long circuit features 12 turns including 2 chicanes on this fast flowing circuit ran in the opposite direction to that used for motorsport meaning a long but shallow climb to the finish line from around 1km to go, also often into the wind.
For younger racers the pitlane in used to create a boomerang course traveling in the same direction as motorsport with 180 degree turns at each end of the 1km course. The pitlane by it’s nature is narrow on the entry and exit to that of the width of a car but the riders race on the main circuit to cross the finish line which is slightly downhill.
Racing traditional gets underway during Good Friday for the Easter weekend meeting hosted by Chippenham Wheelers, This is then quickly followed with the start of British Summer Time with the Thursday Night Castle Combe Summer Series with racing on offer for all categories from early May to late July.
The Ministry of Defence base between Chippenham and Swindon returns to use in the region this year after a recent break.
Located near the M4 the venue provides easy access from across the south of the UK, There are a a number of courses available on the airfield with options for both Youth and senior races ranging from 1km to 7.4km in length.
Facilities are sparce at the venue with no changing areas on site so come prepared and kitted up suitably.
Racing takes place on the old airfield and taxi roads around the site offering fast flowing bends and long straights often impacted by the wind on this open and exposed area.
This year Swindon Wheelers are celebrating their centenary year by running a series of weekend races each Month starting in March, the four race series offers Youth A racing, Women’s 2,3,4 races and separate E,1,2 & 3,4 Races for men.
Entries are open now for each round and further details about the races can be found here
Mountbatten - Portsmouth
The D shaped outdoor Velodrome in Portsmouth is the next stop on our tour of the regions facilities.
The building opened in 1979 and fast become home to a wide and varied number of events with it’s numerous facilities found at the Sports Centre which include the Velodrome which is wrapped around the outside of the Athletics track. It’s slightly peculiar shape is due to the back side of the track incorporating the Floodlight structures, this means that unlike the back straight on a standard Velodrome there is instead a constant gradual left hand bend for the majority of the lap. This part of the circuit ifs often impacted by the wind blowing in off the sea, so whilst flat in appearance the effects of the wind will make it feel as they you are climbing at this part of the course.
Coming into the home straight riders will experience the more traditional banked bends but with a very gentle gradient on this 6m wide track. This venue therefore allows riders to race with Fixed wheel or standard road bikes at dedicated sessions or races.
The venue benefits from being part of the sports centre and the amenities it has such as large carpark, plenty of changing rooms, even a spectator’s grandstand to sit and watch the races.
With 43 races scheduled at the track this year there are certainly a number of opportunities to get involved with weekly Wednesday night races delivered by alternating organisers, fortnightly Friday Night races and monthly Saturday races on offer you’ll have more than plenty of opportunities to develop as a rider and progress up through the rankings.
The Motor racing circuit located near Andover in Hampshire is often referred to as the fastest motor racing circuit in the UK since it’s opening in 1950 due to it’s long lap. In terms of cycling the 3.7km Circuit allows for some fast racing on the circuits flowing bends as shown in this video from Red Walters.
The circuit includes a long gentle climb that on the final section of the lap that often causes splits to occur as riders look to gain a good position going into the final chicane and long gradual right hander to the finish line.
The Circuit is easy to access from the main road follow the tunnel through to the pit & competitors area where there is plenty of parking, toilets are also available in this area and spectators have a grandstand spot to watch the racing from the safety of the pit lane wall. Due to the large nature of the circuit this allows multiple races to run at the same time enabling the midweek series to start much earlier than other race series, You’ll also have a following vehicle with a Commissaire following you on the course so don’t panic if you hear a car whilst racing.
In 2023 the Circuit will host a new series of races and a new organiser, Starting in April the spring series will get underway on the 4th of April for four weeks with racing on offer for all senior Men’s and Women’s fields. The Bike Shed Series is now open for entries and for those racers looking to save some money on entry costs the organiser has created an enter series option saving you £8* compared to the cost of entering each round individually, simply enter Round 1 and select the series option when you get to the checkout page. (*Inc. BC admin fee).
Additional dates will be added dependant on the success of the spring events so come on down and give this great circuit a go.
Odd Down – Bath
This purpose-built circuit came into use in 2013, The 1.5km Circuit is situated at a sports centre on top of a hill to the south of the city centre. Based on a Horseshoe type design the racing on the circuit features fast downhill straight into a tight double bend into a long draggy climb across the finish line and a hairpin bend at the top of the course to complete a lap. The venue benefits from a building housing changing rooms, Toilets and Café area along with plenty of parking onsite. Those traveling to the venue by train face a 15 min ride from the Bath Spa station in the city centre uphill to the venue so would be suitably warmed up for the races.
In terms of Competition Racing in the region starts in January with the Trek Bath Odd Down Series for adult racers including separate races for women on Saturday’s. As we move into the Spring Youth focussed racing is offered courtesy of Sulis Scorpions, a Youth based club at the facility then as we reach the summer attention moves to mid week racing series provided by PDQ with racing for 3/4 cat riders and a separate race for Masters (40+ year olds) on Tuesday nights from May – August.
- Coming Next Week – Winchester, Hampshire