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MAY 28, 2008

A date with history

Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen will drive a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 car at this year's Brooklands Motoring Festival at the weekend. The events will take place on the circuits at Mercedes-Benz World inside the old Brooklands race track at Weybridge, Surrey.

"We are both looking forward to driving at Brooklands, the birthplace of motor-racing," says Kovalainen. "It is the opportunity of a lifetime to follow in the footsteps of many racing legends where so many records were made and broken."

Sir Stirling Moss will also be in attendance.

The two-day festival is organised by Mercedes-Benz World and Brooklands Museum and aim to establish "The Double Twelve" as a unique Concours d'Elegance. Competitors will perform a series of driving tests and have their vehicles judged against the exacting criteria of a Concours d'Elegance by a select panel of experts. The tests will take place in thrilling and evocative environments such as the Members' Banking and the notorious Test Hill of the original circuit, as well as on the modern circuits at Mercedes-Benz World.

There will also be displays from the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows Display Team and a helicopter show by the Blue Eagles, the display team of Britain's Army Air Corps which this year has expanded to include not only the traditional Lynx and Gazelle helicopters, but also the new Apache Attack helicopter, plus two heritage helicopters: the Scout and Alouette.

Brooklands is the world's first permanent racing circuit, built on 700-acres of private land and opened in 1907. For the next 32 years it was the centre not only of British motor racing but also the aviation business and was the venue for Alliot Verdon-Roe's first flight in a British-built aeroplane. His company Avro went on to become an important aviation firm, notably as the manufacturer of the Lancaster bomber. Vickers, Sopwith and Bleriot all had production facilities at Brooklands. Sadly, the link with aviation would be Brooklands's unddoing as during World War II it was requisitioned by the government and part of the banking was demolished in an attempt to camouflage the facility. The track was sold to Vickers in 1946 and later became part of British Aerospace, which continued to operate a number of winddtunnels there until 1990.