Paddock Hill Bend

Jim Clark, Dan Gurney

Paddock Hill Bend, so-called because the Brands Hatch paddock lay just outside it, is a dramatic and challenging semi-blind high speed corner which drops sharply downhill. Here we are at the start of the 1964 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch on July 11, 1964 as the field rushes toward us. This was the first running of the British Grand Prix to be held at Brands Hatch, replacing Aintree which had often been used in the 1950s and 60s. Jim Clark with his Lotus 25 is at the left from his pole position with Graham Hill’s BRM 61/2 behind him having had a slightly slower start and Dan Gurney in his Brabham BT7 on the right. The huge crowd packs the grandstands all along the undulating Top Straight, now renamed the Brabham Straight.

Brands Hatch, situated in Kent some 25 miles southeast of London, started as a short kidney-shaped dirt motorcycle circuit which was later paved for automobile racing. The original circuit of 1.2 miles in length lies in a natural amphitheater and can be seen entirely from just about any vantage point. Today it is known as the Indy Circuit. In 1960 the original circuit was lengthened by a new section which went out into the woods to the south to create the Grand Prix Circuit of 2.4 miles in length on which the British Grand Prix was held, usually alternating with Silverstone, between 1964 and 1986.

In the race, Clark was initially followed by Gurney and Hill, but Gurney soon had to pit with an electrical problem, lost five laps and was never in contention thereafter. Hill followed Clark closely for the entire race, looking for any mistake by the Scotsman, and was 2.8 seconds back at the finish. The only other car on the lead lap was John Surtees in third place with his Ferrari 158/63.

Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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  1. Jim sitz · · Reply

    When i first read of this new track in the British Press, it was Spring of 1950
    and their first event just for Formula 3 cars with 500cc motorcycle motors,
    That one was April 16th and consisted of just 5 curves. Drivers Moss, Bill
    Whitehouse and Eric Winterbottom came out in advance to have a go..!

    Owner Joe Francis had it extended to 1.3 miles by 1954 Season, then by 1960
    the full course for Grand Prix cars. Remember press commenting on Phil Hill in
    outdated Ferrari ” Putting in a sterling performance”

    Also recall photo of under aged John Surtees as passenger to his fathers
    sidecar motorcycle, but being 1949 must have been on grass as printed in
    Motor Sport, magazine.
    perhaps some other keen reader can fill us in.?


    Jim sitz


  2. Seeing Nigel Snowdon’s evocative photograph of the racing field and packed grandstands took me again, ten years later, to Brand Hatch. There with Jackie Stewart for the 1974 British Grand Prix, the just-retired F1 driving champ was doing the race’s television color while my own film crew caught Jackie’s full day for a documentary film about him, Arnold Palmer and Jean-Claude Killy titled “The Days of the Champions.” I remember getting into Brands Hatch that morning was a chore, for most. But riding in the Daimler limo provided for JYS, with all the officials along the way recognizing its special passenger, made it a breeze, and afforded opportunity to interview Stewart on film in-car as we slipped past slower auto and foot traffic that took us to the paddock. James Hunt was there with Lord Hesketh, whose chef was grilling fresh lobster. There was champagne. There were marvelous people. Such a jolly day it was. We filmed Jackie here and there, all about, and at the press room’s microphone looking down on Paddock Hill Bend as the ’74 Grand Prix got underway. Jody Scheckter, driving a Tyrrell-Ford, as Stewart had done so many times on the same marque, won with a brilliant drive for his second F1 win there ahead of Emmo’s and Ickx’s McLaren and Lotus. The next day I was off to film Killy skiing the Italian Alps—a glacier; it was July!—and delightfully exciting. But I’ll always call to mind Brands Hatch as the quintessential British sporting venue that it most certainly has been since its earliest days on the land of Brands Farm.


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