The advent of the car towards the end of the nineteenth century, was accepted rather grudgingly in Britain and, consequently, the development of motor racing in the UK was relatively slow.
By contrast, France took motor sport much more seriously, with long-distance events run between major towns and cities as early as 1894. In Britain, motor racing was not permitted on public roads (other than on the Isle of Man and in Northern Ireland); and in response, hillclimbs and speed trials became the principal form of motor sport, along with sand racing in some coastal areas.
The first purpose-built motor racing track in Britain (and, indeed, the world) was opened at Brooklands in June 1907, but it was more than 25 years before Britain had a second track, at Donington in Leicestershire.
In 1945, at the end of the Second World War, there were about 720 military airfields in the UK (Historic England). Although the majority were returned to agricultural use, it was not uncommon for some of the remainder - with the addition of strategically placed markers and straw bales – to host a wide range of motor sport, the legacy of which has been the later growth and success of the motor sport industry in Britain.
Aintree Circuit, Merseyside
Aston Hillclimb, Bucks
Beamish Safety & Reliability Trial, Durham
Birmingham Superprix, Warks
Bo’Ness Speed Hillclimb, Lothians
Brands Hatch Circuit, Kent
Brighton Speed Trials, Sussex
Brooklands Motor Course, Surrey
Cadwell Park Circuit, Lincs
Clipstone Drive, Notts
Croft Circuit, Yorks
Crystal Palace Circuit, London
Donington Park, Leics
Dunholme Lodge Circuit, Lincs
Gransden Lodge Circuit, Cambs
Grimsthorpe Park Speed Trials, Lincs
Harewood Bank Hillclimb, Yorkshire
Harewood Speed Hillclimb, Yorkshire
Hereford Speed Trials, Hereford
Herkomer Trophy, Herts
Joel Park Hillclimb, Middlesex
Knockhill Racing Circuit, Central Lowlands
London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, Sussex
Loton Park Hillclimb, Salop
Luton Hoo Hillclimb & Speed Trial, Beds
Madrefield Speed Trials, Worcs
Mablethorpe Sand Races, Lincs
Mallory Park, Leics
• Speed Hillclimbs and Speed Trials in Britain: 1899-1925, T R Nicholson, David Charles, 1969.
• Motorsport Explorer, Julian Hunt, Haynes, 2012.
• Motor Racing Circuits in England: Then and Now, Peter Swinger, Ian Allan 2001.
• British Racing Green: Driver, Cars and Triumphs of British Motor Racing, David Venables, Ian Allan, 2008.
• The Encyclopaedia of Motor Sport, Edited by G N Georgano, Ebury Press & Michael Joseph, 1971.