Oulton Park Experience
by Richard Marsh
I’ve been to Oulton Park four or five times now, but twice for BTCC events. Oulton Park is the only circuit remotely close to where I live but even so I’m lucky as many motorsport fans agree it is one of the best circuits to get up close to the action, and offers some of the very best viewing points of any circuit on the BTCC calendar.
The BTCC experience is great, being able to walk up and down the paddock, have a look in the pits, see all the drivers and heroes you usually only ever see on TV, this stuff is unheard of in F1! And especially if you are journalism minded, getting to meet people like Louise Goodman is a bonus too!
One of the best places I’ve found to watch the action at Oulton is on the hill on the inside of the circuit as Cascades, here you can see them on the way into Cascades (one of the most challenging corners anywhere) and usually a spot for overtaking, incident and drama. You can also see the cars shoot off into the distance towards the hairpin, then an agonizing wait as you anticipate their return down to the Hislop chicane, and from the hill you can see all the overtaking action taking place.
During a Clio Cup race in 2009, one driver clipped the tyre wall on the inside of the chicane, the next guy hit them a bit harder, and the third guy hit them so hard he rolled his car and landed on his roof. The race was red-flagged, the driver was fine, and the crowd loved it.
But from that one spot at Oulton, you can see a good third of the racing lap, a rarity at any circuit.
Of course if you are after something a little different there are plenty of places to get right up close to the circuit and smell the exhaust fumes. The first corner is great for first lap action, and I’ve lost count of the amount of drivers I saw getting sideways or losing it altogether!
On the outside of the circuit just after Knickerbrook is also a great place to watch drivers trying to get the power down, this is particularly good in the BTCC where you see how each different car handles and gets traction and power down compared to all the others.
Druids is also a great place to watch them do their stuff and some pretty daunting speeds, and then of course, Lodge corner, the scene of so much action, rarely disappoints! I was there last year when Matt Neal took off Gordon Shedden on the final lap, I could not believe what I saw!
One of my best memories of Oulton was on my first visit, about five years ago now, and my friends and I began to watch some practice on the straight before the run down to Cascades, we had just got settled a few feet from the barriers when a guy lost it and slammed into the fence right in front of us, welcome to Oulton, was the message I guess!
All in all you are spoilt for choice at this Cheshire circuit I reckon, of course its place on the calendar usually means great weather too! Although 2011 didn’t prove to be the case, but nevertheless Oulton Park is one of the very best places to watch motorsport in the UK.